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Friday, July 13, 2012

Frank Kafka's Metomorphosis

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A substantial number of authors of great literature write from personal experiences. Franz Kafka (188�14) seems to be the core of modern-day estranged authors and anxiety; Kafka’s work depicts the tribulations he himself dealt with throughout the course his own existence. From the beginning of his life, it is apparent that he was out of place. Being Czech in the Austro-Hungarian empire, a German-speaker among Czechs, a Jew among non-Jews; distanced from his overbearing entrepreneurial father, from his bureaucratic job, from the opposite sex; caught between a desire to live in literature and to live a normal bourgeois life; acutely and lucidly self-critical; the physically weak Kafka was unable to find a suitable atmosphere to suit his own preferences. The discomforts of his life are expressed accurately and imaginatively in “The Metamorphosis,” a novella that illustrates the many underlying themes of Kafka’s life both with symbolism as well as characterization. Two of the distinct themes that are conveyed in this story include Abandonment/Neglect and Economic Affects On Human Relationships. Abandonment and neglect appear as themes that genuinely reflect the mindset of Kafka himself. It is unmistakably obvious that such strife with human connection has been a focal point of Franz Kafka’s writing. In “The Metamorphosis,” Gregor Samsa, the main character and embodiment of Kafka himself, is traveling salesmen whose experiences are similar to that of Kafka’s life. Gregor is the sole breadwinner in his family, and provides for his mother, father, and sister Grete; all of who rely on Gregor to work of the debt Gregor’s father created when his entrepreneurial business venture failed. Gregor in no way enjoys his job, which consists of long hours and tedious work, although he does enjoy being the provider of the family income. After being abruptly transmogrified into a vermin beetle, Gregor soon realizes he can no longer provide for his family and notices a sharp disinterest in his well being; unlike before where his family showed affection towards Gregor. A few of the ways Gregor felt isolated before his transformation include how he was constantly traveling for his job and had not roots or ties to any location. This is very symbolic of the isolation and neglect substituted for social interaction in Gregor’s life. One instance of Gregor’s self-inflicted abandonment is how he used to lock himself in his room. After being turned into a bug, the disgust and abhorrence he received multiplied the feeling of abandonment. “But even of the sister, worn out by her job had grown tired of caring for Gregor as before still the mother would not have been compelled to take over for her, and Gregor would not have needed to be neglected.” This quote illustrates when Gregor transformed into an insect, the once laid back family undertook the task of providers which once Gregor’s. The second theme of many in this intriguing novella, is that if economic affects of human relationships. After Gregor realized he could no longer provide for his family, his role in the family diminished until it was essentially worth nothing. Only the essentials were provided to him, which included whatever food was around, and an insignificant cleaning of Gregor’s living space. “But at other times he was no longer at all in the mood to worry about his family; he was filled with nothing but rage over how badly he was looked after…His sister now hastily shoved any old food into Gregor’s room with her foot before running off to work in the morning and at noon; in the evening, not caring whether the food had perhaps been just merely tasted or � most frequently � left completely untouched she would sweep it out with a swing of the broom.” This quote explains the vehement abhorrence Gregor feels for his former family. The insect Gregor becomes is quite symbolic of the “pest” or “vermin” he represents to his family. The economic affects on human relationships are a crucial underlying theme in Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” When Gregor finds he can no longer provide income, his family neglects him as well as ceases to care for his well-being. “In this overworked and overtired family, who had time to be concerned about Gregor beyond what was absolutely necessary.” Throughout the book, Gregor feels the overall attitude and attention towards him sink into a decline. Each of his three family members has a distinct issue with Gregor, all which is centered upon Gregor. The majority of attention Gregor receives is the result of him “being in the way.”


Hobbled and neglected, Gregor begins to waste away in his room. The combination of sleep deprivation and lack of nutrition coupled with the apple lodged in his side from his father’s aggravation would lead to his unfortunate demise. The family needs money and agrees to house three lodgers in exchange for money using Gregors room to store excess furniture and other random items adding insult to injury. This insult is a branch of social neglect. The family did leave Gregors door slightly open in the evenings, so he could listen and watch in on the household functions in a minute way. On one particular evening, the lodgers heard Gregor’s sister Grete practicing her violin. Since they were paying rent and assumed the home was essentially theirs, the lodgers called her into the dining room for a show. Grete agrees and upon hearing the music, Gregor crept out of his room towards Grete in order to illustrate he could still appreciate her music. The lodgers are inevitably and unbearably disgusted at seeing the beetle; this becomes limit of the family’s strife. Gregor steals back into his room. During the night Gregor dies. Most likely, the cause of death is a combination of neglect, abandonment, social dissension, economic tribulations and self-pity. It is also apparent Gregor’s conscious attempts to show his admiration for this family that does not acknowledge him are indeed futile.







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