Similarities between Franz Kafka and Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis
It is unusual to say the least to open a book and the first line is about the main character waking up as a large insect. Most authors’ use symbolism to relate the theme of their work, not Franz Kafka. He uses a writing method that voids all aspects and elements of the story that defy interpretation. In doing this, he leaves a simple story that stands only for an objective view for his own thoughts and dreams. Kafka focuses the readers’ attention on a single character that symbolizes himself and his life, not Everyman as some authors do. This method is displayed in most of his literary works. To understand how this method is recognized, readers must study the author’s background during the period of writing and basic history to understand this author’s motive. In his short story, “The Metamorphosis”, there are multiple similarities between Kafka’s true life and Gregor Samsa’s.
Before the similarities are displayed, the justifications behind this premise are as follows. Kafka’s works demonstrates the use of a self-nulling reference system in order to void possibilities of critics attempting to use hermeneutics (Thiher, 50). Hermeneutics is the methodology of interpretation. Examples of this method can be found throughout the story in the use of the realistic and unrealistic elements intertwined in different situations. “Kafka’s Metamorphosis validates contradictory readings that cancel coherent interpretation,” is a quote by confirmed critic Gavriel Ben-Ephraim(451). A specific example can be located in Part I, when Gregor attempts to rise from bed and fails. He thinks to himself, “What a job I’ve chosen.” In truth, he did not have a choice in his occupation as he is repaying his parents’ debt to his boss by working for him at a loss. An additional example is the bug itself. Kafka describes the bug as ungeheueres Ungeziefer (“a monstrous vermin”) then the image is forgotten in certain situations as Kafka concentrates on the conflict of Gregor the man. Kafka refused to allow the image of the bug overpower the story by not permitting the publisher to illustrate it, which made the insect superfluous. There are countless other contradictions that can be found even by a novice critic if the story is read carefully.
A tidbit of history has been included to provide a background for Kafka. His upbringing is not considered normal. In 1883, he is born in Prague, Czechoslovakia to a successful Jewish couple. This combination dictated that he is neither Czech nor German, so his father sought to better the family’s name through Franz by insisting his schooling and social life be centered around the German-speaking elite of the provincial city. Throughout his childhood, he had a history of ailments that contributed to his propensity to dwell on intellectual studies instead of outdoor activities. He received a doctorate in law from the German...