Naguib Mahfouz's The Metamorphosis And Zaabalawai

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What is the meaning of life? Many philosophers and religions have attempted to answer the question of what, if anything, gives an individual a purpose. Nevertheless, contrasting metaphysical interpretations have created a perpetual discussion on the ontology of an individual. Consider western monotheistic ideology, existentialism and nihilism. Western monotheistic ideology outlines the purpose of existence as living to the standard of perfection defined by the religion’s god and exemplified by the religion’s messiah1. Contrarily, Existentialism is based on the proposition of existence coming before purpose: an individual will give himself purpose through his own consciousness2. While Nihilism argues that life is without purpose or objective meaning: with respect to the universe, an individual has no intrinsic value3. Each presented ideology contradicts the others’ basis; still, this is not inherently bad, as it allows the individual to ground himself into an intellectual tradition larger than his own beliefs. Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis and Naguib Mahfouz’s short story Zaabalawai are examples of philosophical fiction on this subject; yet, both literary pieces present different arguments towards the same question. Zabaalawai is an allegory regarding a man searching for the personification of enlightenment, whereas Metamorphosis showcases the absurdity of life as a man is transmuted into an insect and must face the meaninglessness of his own existence. Through

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