Metamorphosis and Existentialism

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Existentialism and Metamorphosis
Existentialism is defined as a modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of one’s experience and accountability. Its focus is the make on the personal reflections that these make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe. Its philosophy is meticulous that, in a nutshell, advocates a diverse arsenal of responses and solutions to the ‘existentialist attitude’; which, essentially, is what an individual feels when confronted by the absurdity of life. Throughout humanity, rumination and self-proclaimed ‘ultimate’ truths have assumed various forms: poetry, religion, and numerous other doctrines and textual works.

In The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka narrates the ramifications of a metamorphosis in which the subject and protagonist, a man named Gregor Samsa, is transformed into a bug. Despite the novella’s literary methods and influences, the most prominent being the way Kafka so nonchalantly describes such irregularity in his life, The Metamorphosis is also hailed as a prime textual work of existentialism, the previously mentioned philosophical movement. Both prior and subsequent to the transformation, Kafka portrays Gregor as a man who seems lost within himself, and lacking identity. The reminiscences of his past are neither nostalgic nor poignant: his human life is seen to revolve solely around trivial matters. His social life pays the price from this, his failure to assert a concrete and consistent existence. The extent of his lack of individuality is further exemplified by his reaction to the metamorphosis: finding himself “transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect” (Kafka, 296), he prioritizes work over all else, even in his newly equated insect form. Furthermore, he panics because “the next train went at seven o’clock; to catch that he would need to hurry like mad and his samples weren’t even packed up” (297). Gregor’s identity crisis is a device for...
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