Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” With the Consideration of His Personal Experiences
Returning to the completed writing and considering its primary characteristics is necessary for creating a comprehensive understanding of the work. My chosen novel, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, is an intriguing piece that regards the subjects of surreality, human alienation, and betrayal within the story of Gregor Samsa. The narrative follows the events occurring after the protagonist’s bizarre transformation into a giant bug, ultimately resulting in his family’s rejection and the man’s death. According to the writing, Gregor’s family was unable to accept his metamorphosis, which leads to significant revulsion towards him. Disregarded and unwanted by his closest relatives, the protagonist chooses to commit suicide by starvation, thus ending his suffering in the form of an insect.
From my point of view, Gregor did not undergo an actual physical transformation but was rather a victim of a mental affliction, a condition that forced him to believe in the reality of his new shape. Under the constant pressure of working and supporting his family, as well as interacting with a cruel supervisor, it is possible that he became overwhelmed emotionally. For instance, the man reminisces about his employment, stating that “during his five years’ service Gregor hadn’t been sick even once” (Kafka 4). The following conclusions, coupled with the protagonist’s fear of being a miserable son, present a compelling argument for his potential exhaustion and extreme stress.
In comparison with previous stories by Kafka, this writing appears to be more engaging and mysterious, as it is unclear what fate awaits the main character. The narrative significantly captured my attention as I was especially interested in how the events transpiring would conclude and what explanation would be given. Even though this work is considerably longer, I was much more invested in completing it than the other pieces.
I believe that Kafka’s decision to write The Metamorphosis might be based on various intentions. First of all, the overall idea of an absurd transformation highly resonates with his previous publications, as it encompasses the themes of absurdity, limitations, and alienation. The two last notions are fundamental, given that Kafka was greatly influenced by the specifics of his surrounding, being a Jew who spoke German in a Slavic community (Stephens). Gregor realizing that “people did not understand his words anymore, although they seemed clear enough to him,” clearly adheres to communication issues encountered by Kafka during his life (Kafka 11). It is possible that the author hoped to represent the conflict that he was involved in, a person becoming so distinct from his environment and experiencing adjustment problems.
Secondly, the topic of complicated family relationships is extremely evident in this work, suggesting that the writer desired to address these issues through literary expression. According to the narrative’s events, the protagonist “knew from the first day of his new life that, as far as he was concerned, his father considered the greatest force the only appropriate response” (Kafka 32). Abuse from Gregor’s father, coupled with his family’s absence of loving feelings towards him, is similar to the complications that Kafka had to endure: being tormented by a short-tempered father and lacking parental attention. The aforementioned resemblances indicate that Kafka needed to express his grievances and emotional traumas, leading to the creation of The Metamorphosis.
Examining Kafka’s Writing Style and Potential Readers
The sophisticated nature of the events discussed within this work is manifested in the types of content and writing style chosen. As the novel explores substantially grim and underwhelming subjects, the technique employed by the author corroborates the narrative by representing a withdrawn overview. Explaining the occurrences from a third-person perspective, Kafka presents a cold evaluation of the absurd events. “‘What’s happened to me?’ he thought”, this is Gregor’s initial reaction to his transformation that lacks any emotional expression, further establishing a sense of confusion (Kafka 3). The author describes surreal manifestations dismissing any notions of surprise or abnormality, resorting to precise and simplistic sentences that merely state the facts of the reality created.
A particular story often has its target audience, which it is devised to impress. In The Metamorphosis, the primary emphasis is on the struggles of a middle-class worker who is entirely devoted to his occupation. As the narrative progresses, the reader learns troubling facts regarding Gregor’s life and beliefs, which hinge on being a successful employee and satisfying his boss. After waking up as a vermin, the protagonist is still certain that he is qualified to work: “Apart from an excessive drowsiness after the long sleep, Gregor, felt quite well” (Kafka 5). Thus, the work addresses a wide range of adult individuals who are indulged in such activities, negating meaningful actions and directing all efforts towards their careers.
Nevertheless, creating an aversion to the glorification of a working lifestyle is not the sole purpose of The Metamorphosis. In addition to the aforementioned need to express personal conflicts and experienced complications, the literary piece may serve as a testament to the meaninglessness of life, constant physical and emotional obstacles, and loved ones’ betrayal. Gregory’s life goal gradually diminishes as the story progresses, leaving him with little to live for. Constant pain and misery, as well as his family’s negligence, portray grievous and depressing circumstances that await a person who does not seek a meaningful existence. I believe that demonstrating the necessity to lead a purposeful life and make valuable decisions is another aim of Kafka’s writing.
In conclusion, the reflection on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis was presented in this work in consideration of the author’s purpose, writing style, and potential audience. Although the nature of the events procured in the story is drastically bizarre, it significantly corresponds with the writer’s previous publishings, perfectly aligning with his unique writing style. The content included in The Metamorphosis greatly resembles Kafka’s own experiences, suggesting that he attempted to display his inner conflicts through writing. Furthermore, as the narrative follows a middle-class worker exceptionally devoted to his career, the author probably wished to inform the reader of the consequences connected to extreme commitment to the working life.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Translated by Ian Johnston, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.
Stephens. Franz Kafka’s Personal Life Reflected in The Metamorphosis. The Kafka Project. 2021. Web.