The Real World Essay

1035 words - 5 pages

In Franz Kafka’s novella, The Metamorphosis, the main character, Gregor Samsa, turns in a “monstrous vermin” and becomes isolated from his family (Kafka 1). The reason for the transformation is unclear, but his strange predicament can be used as a microcosm to the early twentieth century. The dismal mood and setting, dehumanization and paranoia, and competition for power depicted throughout the novella suggest that the early twentieth century was dreary and routine.

The uninviting mood and setting of the novella contribute to the connection to the dreary and routine of the twentieth century. The story begins on a foggy and rainy morning, as Kafka wrote, “Gregor’s eyes then turned to the window, and the overcast weather…completely depressed him” which contrasts with the end of the novella when the family “took the trolley into the open country on the outskirts of the city. The car… was completely filled with warm sunshine” (4, 55). This contrast suggests that being in the city is despondent because once they leave the city the sun comes out and everything is great. The urgent mood of the city is depicted through the visuals of the alarm clock and train schedules. Alarm clocks and schedules are universally known to cause stress. One second a person is in a deep sleep then the next they awoken by a loud obnoxious beeping. The train schedule cause stress because of the monumental consequences of missing it. When Gregor realized that he slept late and is contemplating catching the next train, he thought to himself that “he would have to hurry like a madman, and the line of samples wasn’t packed yet...And even if he did make the train, he could not avoid getting it from the boss” (5). The use of the polysyndeton, the repetition of a conjunction, emphasizes the urgency that Gregor feels. This illustrates the stress and that the new modern city created because more and more workers were starting businesses and moving to cities. Also, the recurrence of a locking door in The Metamorphosis, aid in connecting the novella to the early twentieth century by demonstrating the distrust that now occurred. Gregor’s family locks his door because they do not want him ruining their possessions or other people seeing him, such as the boarders. When the roomers “had their supper at home in the common living room, the living-room door remained closed on certain evenings” demonstrating the embarrassment that the family must feel about Gregor (44).

The dehumanization and paranoia depicted by Gregor demonstrates the workplace environment. The way that Gregor’s boss treats him shows that office managers are accusing rather than understanding. When Gregor refuses to come out of his room the manager says, “I thought I knew you to be a quiet reasonable person, and now you suddenly want to start strutting about, flaunting strange whim” (11). This is followed with more ranting about Gregor’s irresponsibility, without any question about his wellbeing....

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