Franz Kafka, the Czech writer of twentieth century, is one of the most controversial philosophical authors in the history of literature. His novellas and short stories are admired all over the world for their surreal depiction of common life. “The Metamorphosis” (Die Verwandlung) is of no doubt the most famous work of Franz Kafka. Published in 1915, this novella caused a great interest of readers. The author portrays human beings put in absurd circumstances with his unusual manner, later named “kafkaesque”. The Metamorphosis, surreal and strange for the first glance, reflects deep human feelings and emotions, hidden inside the soul. Kafka portrays human beings, their strange controversial nature, and their attitudes to neighbors. The unsteady features of human character described in The Metamorphosis present the strongest aspect of this work.
The story unusually starts with its culmination. Gregor Samsa, the traveling salesman, wakes up one morning to find himself transformed to a monstrous bug. His family – sister, mother, and father hardly understand him, as Gregor can not normally talk. They are upset, as Gregor was the only working person containing the family. All the family members have to find jobs since now, besides, they take few lodgers. Gregor stays in his room most of time, and his sister Grete takes care of him. Imprisoned in his room, the bug starts annoying and depressing the family. One day Gregor comes out of his room to listen to Grete playing her violin. However, the family sends him back to his room. This night Gregor dies. The family members could not stand the test of loving the creature of unusual form.
The author does not say about the reason of this strange situation. None of the family members are surprised with Gregor’s transformation as well. The attitude of family towards Gregor changes throughout the story. The only thing they care about after finding the giant beetle in Gregor’s room is their livelihood. Only Grete decides to take care of Gregor, bringing him food and helping him. Nobody thinks of Gregor’s feelings after his strange transformation, yet this issue is the most important. The family started treating Gregor as real giant bug that needs only to eat, not as human being, their son and brother, who somehow has to suffer from dramatic changes in his life and to adapt to them. This attitude is mistaken. Gregor is alienated imprisoned in his room; he does not want to burden his family. As long as none of members want to spend time with him, he never asks them of it, spending all his time alone.
With some time, Samsa’s realize they can contain themselves without Gregor. Moreover, Gregor starts depressing and even disgusting them. They try to avoid seeing this monstrous vermin. Very soon the family forgets that this bug is in fact their dear son and brother. Gregor is only transformed to different creature, staying the same person inside. However, the family members treat him by his appearance only. Gregor in not a human being any more, he can not contain the family and even speak normally. However, it does not mean that he is not capable of normal feeling, thoughts, and relationships. Any regular loving family would try to help Gregor undergo this hard and painful period of his life. Gregor is already depressed with his transformation, and it was very mean of Samsa’s to hurt him even more by their attitude. The way family treats Gregor shows that he had only meaning to them for his job and appearance. However, true and sincere love is not based on material factors. People love each other for their soul, heart, and mind, not for their physical and material embodiment only. Samsa’s became tired of their burden, and they do not treat the bug as Gregor any more. Gregor dies of indifference, neglect, loneliness, and insult.
In this novella Franz Kafka depicted painful and offensive attitude of family members to the person who became helpless and useless. Transformation to the bug is not a main aspect here. The author shows unsteady relation of human being, its selfish and indifferent nature. The Metamorphosis is an acute story about a tragedy of human identity. This novella is understandable for everybody. That is why The Metamorphosis gained sound popularity all over the world.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Bantam Classics, 1972.
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