Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Caught helpless and unable to meet basic needs for the family, rendering useless due to your physical condition – this is the common scene that began to present itself in the many households that were devastated by the recession. Thus why the this story and author have become one of the most discussed books in history likely due to the fact that its easily relatable and contains a peculiar but deeply intriguing view. Conflicted with anxiety and a lack of self-confidence, Kafka never seemed to be able to love life and resorted to writing literature as a gateway to his darkened mind relaying the convoluted thoughts and ideas he had about how a distorted reality might look. Franz Kafka in his short story the “The Metamorphosis” shows the predicament of a modern man through the lens of his extentialist mind conveying an almost a self-reflection.
Born in Prague in 1883 Kafka was in the midst of religious tension between the Zionists and the Czech Nationalist which would eventually lead to the World War. Although religion was perhaps the last thing on Franz’s mind, there is no doubt it shaped the atmosphere and environment he grew up in with a sub-conscious effect. His father who was Jewish as well as a very successful man had great dreams and intentions for his son, yet they were stifled when Franz’s began to show a distaste towards academics. Kafka posed a clear interest to travel into the line of literature where he exemplified a lot of talent yet his father never approved, sending him to law school instead. After graduation and a worthless law degree, Kafka quit immediately once his father had died to finally pursue writing. The tension between father and son was likely to have been the source for Kafka’s ingenuity and his clouded mind filled with these extentialist matters.
Kafka then goes on to show these views in his writings, specifically that of “The metamorphosis.” Gregor, a travelling sales man was a man who hated his job and only did it for his family so he could repay their debt and put food on the table. Similar to Gregor’s situation is Kafka, where he too was bound simply by family to forcefully take careers he was not interested in nor did enjoy but nonetheless he did it to repay his father for all the luxurious that he was given growing up and of course to respect his father’s choices. Following which he has Gregor the insect slowly disintegrate as part of the family to by himself enjoying the simple pleasures and little he has left with him. The scrutinizing pain of experiencing the rejection from his family was also the same thing Kafka experienced in his dying months in bed, being terminally ill and waiting on death’s door. Espeically with all this new religious tension arising, Kafka found it hard to associate with any religion due to his extentialism, and therefore was not intentionally but subject to being an outcast of society where his awkwardness was rejected. This can be seen in the apple scene, where Gregor’s Father starts barraging Gregor with apples due to him scaring away the renters. This is the first step that shows society (as exemplified by the renters) is now rejecting Gregor’s new physical appearance. The rejection shows the evolution of his character as he had hope that he now no longer does since the ones that are supposed to be the most accepting to you – your family – is no longer accepting, instead showing aggressive disapproval of his existence.
To add to the extentialism, the entire story was written in very neutral tone as can be seen by simple desicriptions of the scenes rather than any emotion. The words are narrated in a fashion as if it was being viewed by a heartless being who had no emotion feeling for any of the characters as Kafka never wanted the readers to sway emotion to Gregor or his Family but rather show how it never really mattered – the basis of exntetialism. This is how Kafka saw himself, as a heartless and emotionless creature, this can be further seen in his life as he broke off there engagements simply because he believed he could never develop strong enough relations for these women to uphold a husband’s responsibilities. This may be the reason he chose to have the sister, Grete get married as a contrast to what his desires are and reality.
The way Kafka is able to contort reality, such as turning a once resourceful man into a vermin showing his inability produce substance of matter that was important to society. The man, Gregor was a by-product of society being forced to go in and out without a will or a say in what direction he wanted his life to go and thus was just as useless as a bug. Similar to how Kafka lived his life, the Metamorphosis showed a self-reflection of himself and how emotionless and useless he felt, especially due to all the new conflict of religion arising and literature as a dying craft.