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The Metamorphosis And The Life Of Franz Kafka

2218 words - 9 pages

       In his novel The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka describes his own life through the life of his protagonist Gregor Samsa.  Careful study of Franz Kafka's life shows that Kafka's family, workplace, and reaction to the adversity in his family and workplace are just like those of Gregor.  So we might ask why Gregor was transformed into a bug since Kafka obviously never turned into a bug.  The absurd image illustrates how Gregor lacks self-respect and feels like he's a bug in the eyes of his family and society.  Franz Kafka was unhappy and never found his place in life, either.  Therefore, he might have felt just like Gregor, like a bug.  Furthermore the novel describes Kafka's expectations of his own future and he was partially correct.

            The most obvious similarity between Kafka and Gregor is their
negative relationship to their fathers, which is a major theme in the novel and
in Kafka's life.  The Kafka and Prague Website describes Kaka's father as "a
notorious tyrant, both to Franz Kafka and to his mother, Julie Löwy."  Gregor
fears his father, which is evident in the fact that he keeps working as a
salesman, like his father wants him to, even though he hates that job (Kafka,
2000).  Gregor refers to his father as "the father," which signifies that he
feels distant to his father.  The father, in turn, acts like a tyrant when he
uses a stick to get Gregor back into his room (Kafka, 2008-9) and throws apples
at him (Kafka, 2019-20). The Kafka and Prague Website concludes that "Kafka's
father was the very opposite of Kafka himself" and that "Kafka's relationship
with his father comes out in some of his books as a hopeless conflict against an
overwhelming power."  The Metamorphosis is one of these books.

            As a result of that "overwhelming power," Kafka and Gregor are
pressed into their occupation by their fathers against their will.  Evan Godwin
writes: "[Kafka's] domineering father placed great pressure on his shy and
sensitive only son to grow up into a robust businessman like himself."  Gregor,
too, works as a salesman because his family requires it and needs him to support
them (Kafka, 2000).  Kafka abandoned literature even though it interested him,
and pursued a law degree (Godwin).  But not surprisingly he "struggled his
entire life under the shadow of his father's disappointment" (Coulehan),
presumably because he didn't do well on a job he hated.  Gregor has to deal with
his father's wrath and disappointment as well when he succumbs to his emotions
and can no longer work to support his family.  The inability to work because he
can no longer handle the stress is symbolized in the transformation into the
bug, and the father has no affection for his son Gregor after he fails to
overcome his transformation and go to work again (Kafka, 2001). 

 

            Both Gregor and Kafka lack the strength...

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