Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is an important novel by this famous Austrian author. It’s also one of the most brilliant and stunning pieces of contemporary literature. The tale’s central theme is family ties and a person’s sense of legitimacy in society. Gregor Samsa, the book’s protagonist, awakes one morning to find that he has become a horrible insect.
This remarkable transformation of the protagonist is simply an artistic device that serves as a foundation and background for subsequent events and metamorphoses in his family and society. The story’s focus is the “metamorphosis” of a person and society. The Metamorphosis essay shall look at the major themes of the short novel.
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The author investigates and examines such social issues as a person’s worthiness and society’s problems, utilizing a blend of fantasy and reality, allegories, and psychological studies of the society. In The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka explores the human soul and family ties in a middle-class Australian family.
Analysis of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis from Modernism Perspective
In the novel, the author emphasizes that society is inhospitable and would be better off without people who are not contributing. The author depicts the protagonist’s ties with his family in order to illustrate social relationships. It’s a distinctive and yet typical work of modern literature.
The Metamorphosis is a text that combines many of the characteristics of contemporary writing. It considers the ideas of individuality and contradiction in human nature and society. Modernist literature focuses on such issues as modern society’s problems and the part played by individuals in combating these problems.
What is the common theme between The Metamorphosis and other works of literature? Modernistic writings are characterized by pessimism and response to urban life and society. The stream of consciousness is the most common literary device for conveying the absurdity of existence and an individual’s attitude toward it.
The use of comparisons, personifications, intertextuality, and psychoanalysis are all modernist characteristics. “Kafka often used a plainly described world of persecution in which one irrational element would be introduced to complete the narrative down an absurd path” is how Childs describes The Metamorphosis (125).
A fantastic example of Kafka’s writing is this work, which can be difficult to analyze for the uninitiated reader. Various readers may discover different themes and meanings in this book since there are several of them. The line that every reader notices is the change discovered at various levels, which is a physical transformation of the protagonist “When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from distressing dreams, he found himself transformed into a horrible worm.” (Kafka 13).
The protagonist’s mental state changes when he becomes alienated from the outside world, and “he was displaying so little consideration for the others” (Kafka 22). Finally, his family’s attitude to him is also altered. All of these adjustments happen in both real and fantastic settings, and “Kafka’s talent for successfully integrating the fantastic with reality has been recognized as a source of his genius” (Bloom 34). The material is organized in a logical order and proceeds from beginning to end. The narrative begins with the moment when Gregor Samsa, a young man from a middle-class family, awakens in the morning and discovers that he has become an extraordinary insect.
The opening of the tale immediately floods the reader with interest and anxiety. What is remarkable is that despite his impending metamorphosis, Gregor does not appear worried about it. He’d never missed a day in fifteen years of employment, and “Gregor had never yet been sick in his life.” (Kafka 16). The notion of change is an important literary device that allows the author to delve into key themes in his writing.
Symbolism in the Novel: Summary
After becoming a horrible insect, Gregor maintains his human spirit and is still anxious about his family, and he requires assistance and support from them. However, neither his parents nor his sister offers him any help or support. It’s the only thing they’re worried about: their single “source of income” won’t be able to generate money for them. Gregor receives just anger, fear, and even rage from his relatives.
Even the fact that this is their son and brother fails to persuade them. Gregor understands his family members and does everything in his power not to burden them. When one reads the book, one sees that behind the bug’s appearance hides a king and a delicate soul of a young man.
Gregor tries to keep his parents and family from having too many issues, but he does not come out of his room because to frighten his mother. When Grete, Gregor’s sister, states that the insect in the room isn’t really Gregor anymore and is only a bug, they have to get rid of him, a tense atmosphere develops in the house.
“Things can no longer go on like this. Perhaps if you don’t comprehend that, well, I do. I won’t say my brother’s name in front of this monster for fear of provoking it, and so I’ll only say that we must try to get rid of it. We’ve done everything humanly possible to look after it and be patient. No one has the right to put us down in any way.” (Kafka, 137).
Nobody misses him the night after he dies, and his death goes unnoticed. The problem of an individual’s worthiness is addressed in the text. Gregor was dissatisfied with his work while he was still a human, but he did it to pay off his father’s obligations. As a result, the author explores the tension between society and human existence in the novel. Gregor’s metamorphosis into an insect was necessitated by his involuntary dependence and unhappy life as a man. The insect allusion was not intended to be there.
The bug is exposed to society, as well as Gregor’s life. The lifestyle in the family altered drastically following the metamorphosis: “The house soon began to fall apart; the household was reduced more and more.” (Kafka 111). It wasn’t for long, though. Soon, other family members began to change as well. Gregor’s father “went from a lethargic, unsuccessful businessman to a productive, active worker” (Bloom, 44). The family no longer requires Gregor’s services.
They have money, and it is all they wanted from Gregory. It may appear that the family’s attitude toward Gregory altered after his metamorphosis. However, it’s evident that this revelation only confirmed the truth. As a result, Gregor was simply a “money machine” in the family. His most important function within the family was as an income producer. His family regards him as a functioning “bug.” Not only his relatives but also the society in which he grew up treated him this way. He finds out that he was unworthy of anything, and even if he died, no one would care. Gregor lived as a bug before becoming one himself.
Even the perspective of the reader is affected. We feel compassion for Gregor and his family, and their behavior infuriates us. It appears that a terrible everyday existence and attitude of parents toward their child are unendurable. However, it is a harsh fact that demonstrates a genuine social order.
What Aspect of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis Can Readers Mostly Relate to Today?
The author’s main concern in the persona of Gregor Samsa was not just one young man’s individual issue, but rather the nation’s entire predicament. This is definitely one of Kafka’s most brilliant works, with a tragic vision of the world that was a hallmark of all his work.
The theme of metamorphosis can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It might represent a family’s or society’s estrangement, as well as the loneliness of someone who is capable of compassion and self-sacrifice. Kafka depicts the protagonist’s mental and spiritual isolation as a result of his change.
You are a component of society while working and offering your services, according to the author. If you are unable to do so, though, society does not require you and may even discard you.
Gregory is a fruitless person, and his family is a symbol of a society that does not want to accept one who does not contribute anything. In this novel, Kafka emphasizes humanity’s vulnerability in society. A person is just a powerless and helpless “toy” destined to be lonely, even among the closest people, his/her family.
The Metamorphosis is a bold experiment in the realm of fiction. It is packed with symbolism and metaphor, emphasizing the tragedy of a person’s destiny, personality alienation, and helplessness before society. The environment in which Standiford lives is hostile. It’s one of those tales that make people consider life’s “questions.”
As a result, it is one of the greatest 20th-century novels and the most studied and criticized works. Different people can find various themes in this text, according to The Metamorphosis analysis essay. Nonetheless, the main theme is alienation from society and its interactions with individuals. In Gregor’s family, the author alludes to modern society’s connections via descriptions of family ties.
The author implies that society is vicious, and useless people are unnecessary. This idea is closely linked with the issue of a person’s acceptability in the world. The author describes his view on society’s responsibilities for individuals, based on the bug’s fantastic metamorphosis.
The story “The Metamorphosis” (1915) is about Gregor, a workaholic who becomes an insect and must then deal with his current existence. For him, the worst part of being an insect was being separated from his family, which eventually leads to his death. It’s easy to see how small the distinction is between Magical Realism and Fantastic when one reads Franz Kafka’s short narrative “The Metamorphosis.” This Austrian writer’s piece is frequently discussed.
In fantastic fiction, the mystical components should be obvious, as they should be in good literature. It is unusual for individuals to become insects. After someone has accepted his or her new reality, he or she and his or her family must face it head-on. The rest of the narrative follows a person’s life after this transformative event.
The relationship between the fantastic element and the rest of the world creates a significant problem as in all good writing. Rabkin remarks on how the world as individuals know it does a 180-degree spin. Gregor’s family was entirely reliant on him before his metamorphosis. Mr. Samsa now works as a bank guard, Mrs. Samsa sews underwear, and Grete is a saleslady, and the family has nothing to do with Gregor. When he required their help, they turned against him. He died from this sense of worthlessness.
Even though magical realism is a feature of Kafka’s fantastic narrative, it is utilized in his narrative. “Magic Realists employ defamiliarization to highlight common elements of reality,” as stated by Simpkins (150). Through the telling of the tale of Gregor, Kafka uses defamiliarization.
Gregory, a workaholic who always puts his family’s interests first, becomes miserable at a job he detests. He is constantly putting others before himself. When his family finds out what he has become as a result of his employment, he experiences loneliness. Everyone in this narrative undergoes a personal transformation.
In “The Metamorphosis,” Franz Kafka depicts the transformation of Gregor, but his family also undergoes significant changes. The most distressing aspect of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is that Gregor genuinely loves his family. Even though he is the one who appears to change initially, his family grows considerably different. Metamorphosis is a transformative event in which individuals or things transform.
Mr. Samsa’s job as a traveling salesperson caused him to estrange himself and forced him to support his family, which is seen by the fact that he is continuously thinking of his family, even when his physical form has altered and causes discomfort. Mr. Samsa, Mrs. Samsa, and Grete, on the other hand, change in that they become independent of Gregor and learn to rely on each other and their own capabilities.
The story of Grete Samsa is very similar to that of Kafka’s. The protagonist, too, becomes alienated from her society after she must care for a brother whom society would ostracize. When seen in the beginning, she appears to be a very concerned individual. After a while, she becomes weary helping her sibling.
After he transforms, she is the one who says they must get rid of him, and after his metamorphosis, she must find work in order to have a home. She becomes a more responsible person as well as a more callous individual regarding Gregory. It appears that she may become what Gregor was to the family: a supporter.
The father of Gregory is a tyrannical individual. He attempts to appear like an unhealthy person, but he is in fact a healthy one. Because he does not work or support his family as the father in a family should, the father is alienated from society. He expects his son to look after the household for him.
He does not want anything to do with his son, even before the metamorphosis. When his father discovers him alone in the house, he asks: “But was that truly his father?” (Kafka 447). Before and after his change, there was no closeness. Gregory’s father is forced to get a job to assist support the family, increasing the distance between them even more. He feels betrayed by his kid.
The mother is an ineffective figure at the start of the narrative. She has asthma and can barely do any housework. At first she appears to care for her son, but he needs to work and care for the family later on. She aids Grete in moving Gregor’s furniture out of his room because she believes he will be happier without it, but she can’t bear to look at him. By the conclusion of the tale, she too has transformed herself, as she now operates a shop and completes tasks for herself rather than depending on Gregor to look after her.
“The Metamorphosis,” according to Peter F. Neumeyer, has a “shock value for the family’s adjustments.” The concept of shocking the reader is nothing new. The first sentence of the story is meant to shock. When one considers that a person has transformed into an insect over night for no apparent reason, there is some shock value in this notion alone.
The last line, “Squirrels are neither North American nor European,” is a clue that the squirrels in Kafka’s novella may be representative of humans. The truth regarding their nationalities is debatable, but there are certain distinctions between them and us: they’re both rodents who live in trees with one exception.
Nina Peliken Straus’ study of “The Metamorphosis” is primarily focused on feminist interpretations. She claims that gender-based theories were not mentioned in literary circles until 1980. The characters’ experiences are those of European, urban, twentieth century male perspectives throughout the tale. Gregor is the main breadwinner for his family; his mother and sister look after the rest of the family.
The roles of father and son are debunked as the narrative progresses. Gregor’s father throws apples and smacks him at the end of the tale, revealing his Oedipus complex. His death is caused by this event. In the end, Grete blossoms into a lovely woman, and she is exchanged for her brother.
“I did not create the world, I merely inhabited it.” ‘says Mark Spilka. “The Metamorphosis’ is based on the idea of another author. The tale “David Copperfield” is said to be a source for “The Metamorphosis.” Both are concerned about losing their jobs. In both stories, the major characters emerge from troubled dreams to discover that they have been transformed into sick individuals by an illness.
“In Spilka’s words, the stories in ‘The Metamorphosis’ are about humanity and relate to a special fiction. Furthermore, the setting prepares readers for the changes that family members will go through. A little bedroom filled with dirt, a beautiful lady, and terrible weather are among them. In ‘The Metamorphosis,’ days were gloomy until the sun finally appeared at the end. This implies that their lives were quite dull until Gregor departed. It’s the urban, dreamlike aspect within a real-world narrative that draws people into caring about what happens next.” (Spilka 289).
Everyone in the Samsa family changed during the course of the narrative, including Gregor. The family, particularly included Gregory, is close at the start of the tale, but as time passes and they must find employment, they become more and more disconnected from each other. This makes Gregor believe he was to blame. “These were not now the animated conversations of former days,” confesses Gregor in a tone that implies some remorse,” which he had once referred to in his exhausted state in a damp bed in a cramped hotel room.” (Kafka 478)
“The father now feels that he has control of the family again as head of the household. This is evident in the following passage: “Then he called out, “Well now, come over here.” Leave that old business behind you. And pay attention to me for a moment.” The women came straightway, kissed him, and continued writing their letters.” ” (Kafka 488). Because she can sew and bring money into the family once again, the mother is more self-assured.
Grete now knows she can take care of herself even if she doesn’t live with her parents any longer. This sentence, for example, demonstrates their self-reliance: “His father fell asleep in his armchair not long after supper was over; his mother, sitting well forward under the lamp, sewed fine linen for some haberdashery; his sister who had taken a job as salesgirl studied stenography and French in the evenings in the hope of perhaps one day obtaining a better position.” (Kafka 478).
The family, nevertheless, may now relocate to a smaller house since they no longer have the burden of Gregor on their shoulders. Although the family does not have to endure any guilt since they do not have to live in a larger house due to Gregor’s death, they should still be feeling some remorse. After Gregory dies, his parents and Grete depart the apartment and take the train journey that they had been unable to make for years.
The mother and father’s conversation implies that when Grete marries, she will be able to replace Gregor in supporting the family since she has gone through a metamorphosis as well, and is now a beautiful woman. She will support the family either by working or by marriage (Straus 657-658). Throughout the narrative, it’s clear that everyone is going through their own metamorphosis. Just as a caterpillar discovers it has transformed into a breathtaking butterfly after emerging from its chrysalis, each individual transforms into something other than what they were before.