Franz Kafka & His Relationship with His Father Revealed in His Writing

Topics: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, Schocken Books Pages: 7 (2975 words) Published: October 3, 2008
Franz Kafka:
How his relationship with his father was revealed in
“A Letter to My Father”, “The Judgment”,
& “The Metamorphosis”

Franz Kafka is an icon of dark existentialist and absurdist literature that frequently wrote about themes of isolation, alienation, and authoritarian oppression. His well-known work includes the short stories "The Metamorphosis", and “ The Judgment.” as well as his prominent "Letter to His Father", in which he attempted to clarify the tense relationship and his emotional oddness. Franz Kafka was born in Prague on July 3rd, 1883. Prague was a perplexed city, a great deal like Kafka himself. With several languages and ethnic groups struggling for a position in Prague, it was apparent in the late 19th century that Jewish residents were relatively low in social status. Kafka was a Czech-born, German-speaking Jewish boy. Franz had a complex time while living at home because he suffered from hypersensitivity to noise and a yearning for solitude. His father Hermann was an importer and ran a store specializing in “fine goods” for the rising middle- class. Hermann was a self-made man, extremely aware of his own success and his son’s lack of success. His father quite often, verbally abused Franz, a truth revealed in a good deal of Kafka’s stories and within his diaries. Kafka never did rebel openly against his father; however, he did express his feelings towards his father in many pieces of work.

In “Letter to My Father”, Franz Kafka openly expresses his feelings and emotions towards the relationship he had with his father. Hermann Kafka was a major influence in the writer's life, commonly described as big, loud, impulsive, and authoritarian. He stated: "My writing was all about you; all I did there, after all, was to bemoan what I could not bemoan upon your breast. It was an intentionally long-drawn-out leave-taking from you." Kafka's hesitant take on authority-his capability to respect it, rebel against it, and blame himself for everything seems to come mostly from his relationship with his father. Always disturbed by feelings of inferiority to his father, Kafka also faced his father's disapproval of his writing, which Hermann thought was a waste of time, never hesitant to throw it at his son that he thought he was a disappointment. The letter is a masterpiece, reflecting to everything he had written in which a protagonist struggled with a superior power and cautiously sorted every aspect of his view of their relationship. The letter, which he gave to his mother to pass on, never reached its addressee. One main difference is that in “Letter to My Father” Kafka courageously admits “behind everything that I have written there was of course always a struggle with you.” Kafka’s letter is an accusation filled with near-hate for his own father. The letter tells of the reprimand he received for irritating his father one night, by relentlessly asking for a drink of water. His father locked him out of the house for a short time. Although the punishment wasn’t violent, nor did his father leave him outside, Kafka’s sensitive character was forever marked. “Even years afterwards I suffered from the tormenting fancy that the huge man, my father, the ultimate authority, would come almost for no reason at all and take me out of bed in the night and carry me out.” The bewilderment for Kafka, the devoted son and emotional victim, is confirmed in the words. Kafka directly attacks one of the most important people in his life, knowing that in doing so he is also attacking himself with shame.

Unlike “Letter to My Father”, “The Metamorphosis” is an indirect portrait of Kafka’s life. It is an explanation of the dramatic changes that had taken place throughout his life (symbolic of his own life and nightmare-like life experiences he had with his father.) Franz Kafka is greatly known for unfolding bizarre situations with simple, cold words. Kafka did not try to surprise readers with detailed descriptions of...
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