Symbols and Abstractions in Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"
"The Metamorphosis" is a unique and intricate novella by Franz Kafka. It is peculiar in any work for the main character to wake up as an insect in the first line of the story. Kafka's symbolism is unlike most authors who use symbolism to relate to the theme of the story; Kafka tends to focus the reader's attention on a single character which symbolizes his life. His uses of bizarre symbols make the reader question, "What does Kafka mean through this symbol?" The interpretations of these symbols differ between readers yet all seem to represent how life is destroyed when people focus is on existence alone. To fully appreciate the symbols and abstractions in his works, it is important for the reader to have knowledge of the author's history to understand the reasoning behind the story. As observed in "The Metamorphosis," there are many similarities between Frank Kafka and his protagonist, Gregor Samsa.
Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of Bohemia. His father, Hermann Kafka, was described by Kafka himself as "a true Kafka in strength, health, appetite, loudness of voice, eloquence, self-satisfaction, worldly dominance, endurance, presence of mind, [and] knowledge of human nature ...". (Nervi) Admitted to the Charles University of Prague, Kafka first studied chemistry, but switched after two weeks to law. This offered a range of career possibilities, which pleased his father, and required a longer course of study that gave Kafka time to take classes in German studies and art history. He later was hired at an Italian insurance company, where he worked for nearly a year. His correspondence, during that period, witnesses that he was unhappy with his late shift working schedule as it made it extremely difficult for him to concentrate on his writing. Later, he resigned, and two weeks later found more congenial employment with the Worker's Accident Insurance...
Cited: Nervi, Mauro; Kafka 's Life (1883-1921). 12 March 2006. The Kafka Project. 18 May 2009. .
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