This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Marxist Perspective On Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

1802 words - 7 pages

Marxist Perspective on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

On the surface, Franz Kafka's 1916 novella, The Metamorphosis, seems to be just a tale of a man who woke up one morning to find himself transformed into an insect. But, a closer reading with Marx and Engel's economic theories in mind reveals an overarching metaphor that gives the improbable story a great deal of relevance to the structure of society. Gregor Samsa, the protagonist, signifies the proletariat, or the working class, and his unnamed manager represents the bourgeoisie. The conflict that arises between the two after Gregor's metamorphosis renders him unable to work represents the impersonal and dehumanizing structure of class relations. The metaphor of the story can be divided into three main parts (although they overlap within the story.) First, Kafka establishes the characters and the economic classes which they represent. Then, he details Gregor's metamorphosis and the way in which it impedes his labor. Finally, he describes the final results of the worker's inability to work: abandonment by his family and death. Although a man cannot literally be transformed into an insect, he can, for one reason or another, become unable to work. Kafka's novella, therefore, is a fantastic portrayal of a realistic scenario and provides us with a valuable insight into the struggles between economic classes.

Within the first few pages of the novella, we as readers quickly discover Gregor's role as the proletariat in the story. He is forced to labor as a traveling salesman, trying to support his family and pay off his father's debt from a failed business venture. While lying in bed, he comments on his life as a traveling salesman, "Day in, day out--on the road... I've got the torture of traveling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours..." (Kafka 4). The words he chooses to describe his job, "torture," "worrying," and "miserable" dramatically show his discontent with his daily labor. But, he has no option other than to continue working at his monotonous job because he is a member of "the class of modern wage-laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour-power in order to live" (Marx and Engels 769). Gregor knows that his only means of survival is to continue laboring, even though the labor gives him no benefit other than a meager paycheck. He says, "If I didn't hold back for my parents' sake, I would have quit long ago" (Kafka 4). It is only economic necessity that keeps him going to work everyday. Conflict exists in Gregor's life between his human desire to work for his own direct benefit and the economic demands that alienate him from his labor by forcing him to work for someone else.

Soon after meeting Gregor, we are introduced to his manager, a typical member of the bourgeoisie or "the class of modern Capitalists, owners of the means of social-production and employers of wage-labour" (Marx and Engels 769)....

Find Another Essay On Marxist Perspective on Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

Social Analysis of Franz Kafka's the Metamorphosis

3867 words - 15 pages Social Analysis of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka was not Jewish; Franz Kafka was not Czech, Franz Kafka only identified himself by his own perception of life, and a reality of his own creation. Kafka's family, a prosperous middle class home of economic strivers, embraced the German Jewish circles of Prague, seeking to assimilate with language and Jewish culture. Kafka, in the traditional manner he is remembered, was born into a

Analysis of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

1746 words - 7 pages Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis is so strikingly absurd that it has engendered countless essays dissecting every possible rational and irrational aspect of the book. One such essay is entitled "Kafka's Obscurity" by Ralph Freedman in which he delves down into the pages of The Metamorphosis and ferrets out the esoteric aspects of Kafka's writing. Freedman postulates that Gregor Samsa progresses through several transformations: a transformation of

Standards in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

855 words - 3 pages In Franz Kafka’s story The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa falls victim, to some strange affliction which somehow turns him into a colossal insect of some sort. His bizarre and tragic story takes place in a European apartment in the early twentieth century; a time in which much stock was placed in both etiquette and the appearance of propriety. These standards found throughout the society in which he is placed leads to his ultimate downfall

Metamorphosis of the Family in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

1171 words - 5 pages The Metamorphosis of the Family Before the caterpillar can transform into a butterfly, it must go through a metamorphosis. The cocoon in which the caterpillar hibernates is in fact just a conveyance towards another life form. Gregor, in Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis, is similarly a vehicle for such an important transformation, in this case the reformation of his family. The metamorphosis of Gregor facilitates the gradual change

Franz Kafka's Life Reflected in his Work, The Metamorphosis

2376 words - 10 pages Franz Kafka's Life Reflected in his Work, The Metamorphosis The Metamorphosis written by Franz Kafka is considered one of the few great, poetic works of the twentieth century. Addressing The Metamorphosis, Elias Canetti, a Nobel Prize-winning author, has commented, "In The Metamorphosis Kafka has reached the height of his mastery: he has written something which he could never surpass, because there is nothing which The Metamorphosis could

Aimee Bender's The Rememberer and Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

1063 words - 4 pages The characters in Aimee Bender's “The Rememberer” and Franz Kafka's “The Metamorphosis” are all adjusting to life after their love ones started to change. On each story the characters behaviors change and the reaction to each citation take a different perspective on life. Bender’s “The Rememberer” the narrator and Ben are lovers presenting a physical and intellectual connection to each other sadness “He was always sad about the word. It was a

This paper is about Franz Kafka's role in "The Metamorphosis."

1191 words - 5 pages both Franz Kafka and Gregor Samsa. On page 21 of "The Metamorphosis," Gregor Samsa is describing his room, when he comes across "a photograph of Gregor that dated from his military service, showing him as a lieutenant, hand on sword, with a carefree smile" (Kafka 21). Clearly the military was a large part of Gregor's life. Franz Kafka, however, did not serve in the military, but he was inspired by it. One of Kafka's novels, the Penal Colony, "is a

The Metamorphosis as a Depiction of Franz Kafka's Life

1189 words - 5 pages The Metamorphosis as a Depiction of Franz Kafka's Life The Metamorphosis is said to be one of Franz Kafka's best works of literature. It shows the difficulties of living in a modern society and the struggle for acceptance of others when in a time of need. In this novel Kafka directly reflects upon many of the negative aspects of his personal life, both mentally and physically. The relationship between Gregor and his father is in many ways

Existentialism in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and The Hunger Artist

1515 words - 6 pages for a brighter future. Although humans as a group are becoming less and less personal, he seems to say, an optimistic future is possible if individuals will only stop and examine themselves and their relationships with other people.   WORKS CITED Kafka, Franz. "The Hunger Artist." In The Collected Short Stories of Franz Kafka. Ed. Nahum Glatzer. London: Penguin, 1983. ---. The Metamorphosis. Trans. Stanley Corngold. New York: Bantam, 1972.    

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis"

1482 words - 6 pages Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" contain many similarities. They both have the common theme of the deterioration of the main character's life and mind, as well as the theme of the ostracism of outcasts in society. They also both deal with the main characters gaining a freedom through the demise of their previous lives. The woman in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is slowly deteriorating in mental state

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

2066 words - 8 pages This essay explores the experience of estrangement and dislocation in Franz Kafka’s, ‘The Metamorphosis’ and Joseph Conrad’s, Heart of Darkness. Generally speaking, estrangement is a form of exclusion whereby readers, and characters within a story are alienated. In contrast, dislocation is a disturbance caused due to a change in place or state. ‘The Metamorphosis’ looks at how the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, is ostracised through his

Similar Essays

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Essay

1189 words - 5 pages In this paper I will interpret the short story, The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. My purpose is to explain to my classmates the short story’s goal what Kafka wanted to transmit to people. I want to expand more why this short story is considered one of the best poetic imagination works. In my research I expect to use Kafka’s work, The Metamorphosis as my primary source. Important other sources include essay critiques from

Franz Kafka's Novella, The Metamorphosis Essay

1395 words - 6 pages One of the saddest aspects of Franz Kafka's novella, The Metamorphosis, concerns the fact that young Gregor Samsa genuinely cares about this family, working hard to support them, even though they do little for themselves. On the surface, Kafka's 1916 novella, seems to be just a tale of Gregor morphing into a cockroach, but, a closer reading with Marx and Engels economic theories in mind, reveals an imposing metaphor that gives the improbable

Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis Essay

2582 words - 10 pages Kafka, The Complete Stories. Schocken Books, New York, 1971. Hughes, Kenneth “Franz Kafka An Anthology of Marxist Criticism.” University Press of New England, Hanover and London, 1981. Corngold, Stanley “Kafka, Franz The Metamorphosis.” Bantam, New York, 1972. Thiher, Allen “Franz Kafka A Study of the Short Fiction.” Twayne Publishers, Boston, 1990.

Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis": A Report

1707 words - 7 pages Given a copy of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, interpretation proves to be a challenge because his profound use of language establishes symbolic significance that is tough to decipher. "The Metamorphosis can be seen as an intensely introspective work, relating to itself and providing Gregor Samsa as a concrete metaphor for metaphor itself" (Way 267). Kafka's pessimistic view on society and the struggle to find one's identity are overriding