Literary Analysis of Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’
‘Metamorphosis’ is one of Franz Kafka’s known works. Written from the vantage point of Gregor Samsa, Kafka provides readers with an individual’s sudden transformation into a bug and the corresponding impact it creates to his family, identity and state of consciousness. By utilizing his approach, the story moves to emphasize the author’s inclination to focus on a single character with the aim of highlighting numerous ways where readers can interpret the story. Based on Walter Sokel’s assertion, “Kafka’s literary uniqueness lies in the fact that he dramatizes conventional figures of speech and endows them with full consistent detail; his tales act out the implications of metaphors buried in the German idiom” (203). Seeing this, the story provides a good indication of Kafka’s life in the past and advances the symbolisms evident with his experiences in the past.
One of the key themes presented by Kafka in this piece corresponds to the persona’s transformation. As readers uncover the physical changes happening to Gregor Kafka utilizes the insights happening inside his head to develop understanding how he feels as this transformation is taking place. Clearly, Gregor’s change to a bug brought forward questions surrounding its significance and the impact it can create to his life. Evident in this change of course is the shift on how he was treated by his family members. Compared to the past wherein he is considered to be essential because of the ability to provide for his family, this gradually changes as he becomes an insect that lacks a specific purpose and relevance to the household (Batson 1). As the story tries to develop awareness to the transformation of Gregor, Kafka also brings forward the impact it creates to his family, consciousness and existence in the world.
Also evident in the change happening to Gregor is the apparent isolation and alienation he felt during the change. With the metamorphosis taking place, Gregor finds out the feelings of isolation and how his decision to let go of his obligations to his family further distanced his relevance to them. Given the potential consequence of his actions, the protagonist also had to endure the impact of his appearance and its appeal to his family members. Though initially, they found ways to show pity and compassion for his change, it eventually led to other members moving on with their lives without his old physical form (Kafka 1). This in turn led the consciousness of Gregor to feel alienated and isolated from the rest of the world. Rather than finding ways to connect with others in his new form, he has to struggle alone to understand his condition and its consequences to his existence.
Lastly, there is Kafka’s attempt to portray the traditional notion of family and how the case of Gregor deviates from such reality. Looking closely, prior to his transformation, Gregor Samsa is the main provider with his job in sales. Given his father’s weak physical state, the family had to depend on his income to sustain their everyday needs (Kafka 1). However, when Gregor transformed into an insect, Mr. Samsa re-assumes the position as patriarch of the family and exerts control even to Gregor’s life. Though this may seem to be the case, Kafka also challenges the response of Gregor’s family during his transformation. In particular, it questions the abandonment and their ability to turn back to someone who has sacrificed most of his life trying to provide in the family that in the end chose to neglect and accept his change as a bug.
Overall, Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ seeks to put forward numerous interpretations and meanings to readers. The multitude of themes conveys man’s interaction with changes in his identity and the impact it creates to both his consciousness and the people around. With the story’s ability to highlight the perspective coming from Gregor Samsa, readers are able to identity important symbolisms that can altogether be related to Kafka’s identity and also emphasize its relevance in shaping individual transformation and metamorphosis.
Batson, Robbie. ‘Kafka~Samsa. Reality Through Symbolism’ Kafka Project. 8 Jan. 2011. Web. Accessed 28 August 2014.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Web. Accessed 28 August 2014.
Sokel,Walter. ‘Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”: Rebellion and Punishment’ Monatshefte, 48.4(May 1956): 203-214.