Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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Metamorphosis is an illustrious short story, which manifests Kafka’s complex character, his beliefs, and real-life dilemmas. It highlights the existentialist credo by elucidating the quandaries faced by an individual in the face of absurdity. Kafka critiques the impersonal and materialistic society around us, which mitigates individualism, restricts freedom, and engenders alienation. A whirlwind of redundancy and absurdity pose Gregor with an identity crisis. Initially, his individuality is tethered by social obligations where as in due course, he is socially marginalized by virtue of his outrageous appearance. Either way, he is isolated. By means of this clock, my oral presentation aims to chart Gregor’s progress through life, which essentially follows a circular trajectory. I will begin by explaining some of the key ways in which Kafka portrays non-fictitious concepts with stark clarity…

Kafka vividly manifests abstract canons using an array of literary devices. The lack of causality is conspicuous, which symbolizes the superfluity of existence. Furthermore, Kafka employs a medley of extended metaphors to assist him with conceptualization; Gregor’s diminutive human room delineates the extent of his freedom, food represents familial relationships and hunger the thirst for social connections. Color imagery is adopted to symbolize the depth of Gregor Samsa’s state of cognizance, while kinesthetic imagery is used as a touchstone to measure the degree of Gregor’s freedom. Owing to his submissiveness, Gregor’s life follows a circular trajectory, which in technical jargon is forced individualism. Also circular motion lacks a decisive direction, which suggests that Samsa is unable to achieve self-actualization. Hence to represent such characteristics, the diction employed connotes redundancy and compliancy. Other than Kafka’s nonchalant tone, the text’s innate irony is rather gripping; even though Samsa surpasses a monumental metamorphosis, in actuality, his life returns to status quo.

Sartre embodied the essence of existentialism where “existence precedes essence.” Originally, Gregor was an impotent travelling salesman whose worth was calculated in fiscal terms. Fettered by familial obligations, his identity was vanquished, which ensnared him into a vicious cycle of submissiveness; he even says, “I am in a jam, but I will work myself out of it.” Gregor possessed locomotive freedom, but lacked individualistic leeway. By six o’clock, Gregor has transformed into a giant insect; “When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous cockroach in bed.” The stark absence of exclamation marks and hyperboles disconcerts the reader who is informed about Gregor’s acquiescence of life’s inanity. At this stage, Gregor is in a nebula; from half past six to quarter to seven, he ruminates about futile issues while planning his next step. The questions that perturb him are recurrent and “baseless”, illuminating his indecisive nature; he oscillates from complaining about his grueling occupation that has “no continuity, and no affection” to contemplating about how he must get out of bed; “Whatever I do, I mustn’t loaf around in bed.” Words such as “dense, morning fog” irradiate Gregor’s obscure state of realization. Furthermore, Gregor’s physical struggles illuminate his emotional weariness; Gregor was unable to control his numerous, feeble legs and saw “no possibility of brining any order or calm to their randomness,” and “however vigorously he flung himself to his right he kept rocking on to his back.” Gregor’s continual efforts are ineffectual. Kafka’s use of symbolism where physical mastery corresponds to Gregor’s freedom of choice manifests Kafka’s literary wit and ability to represent a metaphysical change in concrete terms, which substantiates its gradual occurrence. Ironically, the story’s first real climactic scene commences when the Chief Clerk visits Gregor’s residence to enquire...
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