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Books

Critical Review Of The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, was written in 1915 and is understood to be one of his best works of literature. It presents a connection between his personal life experiences and the character, Gregor Samsa. Franz Kafka was born in 1883 and grew up in Prague as a member of a financially stable Jewish family. As a Jew growing up in German culture, he was ignored and alienated. This environment affected him in such troubled was the reason that he transferred his feelings into is character, Gregor Samsa. Using his life experiences as a traveling business person, as well as the roles his parents played in his life, Kafka is able to express his opinions. These opinions about business and work in society are rebuild through his character, Gregor Samsa. “The novella’s sections are divided into three clearly identifiable parts. These parts show Gregor in relation to his occupation, his family, and his divided psyche.” (Gerhard Brand) Through examination of Franz Kafka’s life, we see that Kafka’s home, work, and response to his hardships are just like Gregor’s in The Metamorphosis.

The Metamorphosis was published originally in English, but it has been translated into many other languages over the years. It has been mentioned as one of the important works of fiction of the 20th century and has been used by numerous colleges and universities across this globe. The novel is written about the character named Gregor Samsa who undergoes the striking change not just with himself but with his family. At first, Samsa is being positive about his condition, and he even wanted the support of his family as Kafka did in his time. At this point in time, he realizes that he may never be the individual that he used to be.

Franz Kafka was born into a middle-class Jewish household in 1883 in Prague. Throughout his life, Kafka described powerfully with characters of his Jewish heritage — intellectualism, religion, and commitment to learning — but was culturally German. Kafka’s relation to his dad and his conflict with depression and cultural anxiety dominated his time. He never married. Despite getting three other lovers, he seemed isolated all the time and unable to commune with different humans or a deity of any kind. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1917, which caused his death in 1924.

The main theme of this book is the struggle between good and evil. Kafka uses this theme to show how people are affected by their environment. This theme of good versus evil is also used to show how society affects them. In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Gregor is not the only person in the story who undergoes a full transformation. Sometimes the change in one area of life will give way to changes in multiple areas of life, but the resulting changes could not have come about without a catalyst. When Gregor turned into a huge insect, the dung beetle, the whole thing turned into motion. This resulted in an argument that Gregor has with his family frequently.

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis begins when Gregor has awoken from his troubled imagination as a giant dung beetle. Gregor, the main character and Kafka himself, had vulnerable behavior, isolation and unhappiness in their relationships and in life. For Gregor, these symptoms had an enormous effect on his self-concept. This led to a depressing and barren ending for Gregor. Kafka’s unhappiness at his real world was reflected in the Gregor ‘s change of a dung beetle. This Metamorphosis reveals the effect of negative self-concept and the lack of happiness that Gregor experiences throughout his life. He is unhappy with his life because he does not have a job or a family that supports him. He feels nothing can be done about his situation. The Metamorphosis as a depiction of Franz Kafka’s Life is said to be one of Franz Kafka’s best works of literature, in that it shows the difficulties of living in a modern society and the struggle for acceptance of others around them when in a time of need. In this novel, Kafka directly reflects upon many of the negative aspects of his personal life both mentally and physically. The relationship between Gregor and his father is in many ways similar to Franz and his father Herrman Kafka. According to Biography.com, Kafka had a strained relationship with his father.

Kafka’s father had a profound impact on both Kafka’s life and writing. He was a tyrant of sorts, with a wicked temper and little appreciation for his son’s creative side. Much of Kafka’s personal struggles, in romance and other relationships, came, he believed, in part were often coming up against an overbearing power of some kind, one that could easily break the will of men and destroy their sense of self-worth. 

His father had a domineering attitude towards the family and Kafka used it in his work. He never understood Kafka’s love for writing. In The Metamorphosis, Gregor’s father is the same way. There are several instances where we can see and imagine how Gregor felt about his father and what he had to endure. There are several passages throughout the story that shows a domineering father. It was not only Franz’ father that disapproved of his writing and his creative side. His entire family did not believe in his writing. In this same way Gregor’s family did not believe in him and belittled him for being a bug like Kafka’s father did during his life.

“Look, Father,” she suddenly broke into a scream. “He’s coming again!” And in an access wholly incomprehensible to Gregor, his sister even quit her mother, actually pushing herself away from her chair, as though she would rather sacrifice her mother than remain anywhere near Gregor, and dashed behind her father, who, purely on the basis of her agitation, got to his feet and half-raised his arm to shield the sister. (Kafka, 1232) With his left hand, his father picked up a large newspaper from the table and, stamping his feet on the floor, he set out to drive Gregor back into his room by waving the cane and the newspaper. No request of Gregor’s was of any use; no request would even be understood. No matter how willing he was to turn his head respectfully, his father just stomped all the harder with his feet.

In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the nature of Gregor Samsa’s world does not change in spite of his drastic personal alterations. Gregor’s time before this transformation was restricted to working and caring for his family. As a travelling salesman, Gregor worked long, difficult hours that left little time to have ‘fun.’ He reflects on his time acknowledging the ‘plague of traveling’: The anxieties of shifting trains, and the chaotic state of mind, which is characterized by an inability to concentrate on anything else.

According to Kafka: A Life In Prague by Klaus Wagenbach, his only major autobiographical statement is the ‘Letter to his Father’ from his later years (1919), a vain attempt ‘to reassure us both [Kafka and his father] a little and make our living and our dying easier’. However, Kafka’s desire in this letter to ‘reassure’ his father – who viewed his son’s writing with suspicion and incomprehension – led him to falsify many of the facts, and Kafka himself, a year later, referred to the ‘lawyer’s tricks’ of this letter.

Growing up in a Jewish family was difficult for Franz, because, at the time Prague was majority Catholic and for most of his childhood, Jews were excluded from society. This can relate back to how Franz felt like an outsider in his life and in his family. According to the chapter Franz Kafka in The Norton Anthology of World Literature, it says “And yet he (Franz) felt himself to be an outsider- a German-speaking Jew among Czech-speaking Christians.” Using The Metamorphosis, he shows how Jews felt in the society. “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.” We might ask why Gregor was transformed into the bug since Kafka apparently never turned into the bug. This ridiculous picture exemplifies how Gregor lacks self-respect and feels like he’s the flaw in the eyes of his family and community. Franz Kafka was sad and never saw his place at time either, so, he might have felt exactly like Gregor, like a nasty bug.

Ying- bei’s view on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is that on the surface, The Metamorphosis, appears to be simply the story of the person who woke up one morning to find himself transformed into an insect, a dung beetle. Upon closer interpretation with Marx and Engels’ system theories in mind, reveal the overarching figure that makes this improbable story a good deal of relevance to the system of society. In Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Gregor is used to represent Christ from the Bible. Kafka uses the allegorical method to compare Gregor’s sacrifices to those of Christ. Finally, both Gregor and Christ give their lives so that they can make the lives of their loved ones better, even with all of the betrayal. Kafka uses the biblical parable to depict Gregor’s Christ-like activities. In the book, God gives his single son the good, revered ‘divine’ figure who allows Christ to live amongst sinful people throughout his life. Christ treats the ordinary people’s illnesses and performs miracles to improve them; most importantly, he cares for them and knows them. Christ is unselfish and continuously dedicates himself to helping his fellow man. This shows how Christ is a loving father who loves his children unconditionally and never forgets them. Upon Gregor’s death, he is left with only love and respect for his family. He does not care about what others think of him nor what they say about him, but rather, he lets go of all that has been done to him.

In Franz Kafka’s short story, Metamorphosis, the purpose of existentialism is brought out in a subtle, yet very distinct manner for the audience to identify. Existentialism is defined as the notion in which a single individual is fully in charge of putting meaning into their life and that living alone is pointless. They do not believe in any kind of supreme force. A vast majority of their attention is on concepts, such as, fear, boredom, freedom and nothingness. Franz Kafka’s short story The Metamorphosis, it centers on the idea of isolation. In the lead character’s change, he has a profound isolation towards society. What the isolation contributes to is to the series of events that cause Gregor’s isolation to become worse and then the isolation leads to Gregor’s demise. Isolation and its after effects are the central themes involved in The Metamorphosis. Isolation is the state of the individual being separated from different people and that is what Gregor, as well as Kafka, endured in their life.

Upon first looking at the last four pages of Franz Kafka’s book, The Metamorphosis, they appear to be pointless and not useful. The truth, however, is that these pages are anything but pointless. The last four pages, although appearing to be of no value or point, help to show the audience how the Samsa household changed as a consequence of the main character’s, Gregor Samsa’s, death. His death resulted from starvation and infection from an apple lodged in his back that was thrown at him. In this way, the reader can see that Kafka was able to create an atmosphere in which he could make his readers feel sorry for Gregor and even pity him for the struggle he endured.

Kafka’s The Metamorphosis has multiple meanings but is mostly thought of as being uninterpretable to most. Kafka has invented a conflict within Gregor and the story that is seemingly universal to the development of mankind. “The Metamorphosis” is a book which can be read in a few hours, but it may take a lifetime to understand the trouble Gregor faced.   

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