In this short novel, “Metamorphosis” Kafka examines different themes and tries to convey his personal message through the characters and the plot of the book. When writing this novel Kafka was mainly influenced by many different sources, his life and his experiences.
At the beginning, Gregor was the sole breadwinner of the family. Though Gregor hates his job, he follows the call of duty to his family and goes far beyond simple duty. The family, on the other hand, takes care of Gregor after his metamorphosis only so far as duty seems to necessitate.
He is kept locked in his room and brought food. This was reflected in Kafka’s background as his family insisted that he needs to spend his afternoons in the office and Kafka himself felt that his presence at the office was pointless. However gradually throughout the story there is a transition where the family starts to depend on him less and less for their financial need.
This is reflected in the passage with the quote “and so they sat down at the table and wrote three letters of apology”. there is a common change among the family members: their new willingness to do things independently. Their bold act of writing “letters of excuse” is a clear example of their new independence as by taking the initiative and writing to their employers, Gregor’s family proves that they no longer depend on Gregor.
As a cockroach and even when he was a human, Gregor had to fend for himself emotionally.
Before his metamorphosis, Gregor was alienated from humanity, his job and even his family. This was to the extend that when he was transformed into a cockroach he still seemed more concerned about his job rather than his physical form. After his metamorphosis, Gregor feels completely alienated from his room and environment and, as a symbol of this, can’t even see his street out the window. The theme alienation is reflected in the ending where his sister was in a hurry to leave the apartment. “Bye bye, everyone, then turned around furiously and left the apartment with a fearful slamming of the door.” The way she left in a hurry reflects that everyone in the society is so busy that they only care about themselves and alienate a lot of the on going things and people around them. This is linked to Kafka’s background as when he was younger Kafka felt like an insect in his father’s authoritative presence and even developed a stammer while speaking to him. His family sort of alienated him and expected him to do whatever they wanted him to do without giving his own opinion.
In the passage, the family “left the apartment together, something they had not done for months now”. By leaving and moving to a smaller apartment it shows as though the family was trapped in the apartment and they “newfound freedom and independence” is represented by them moving into a new apartment. However for Gregor, his freedom was represented by death as Gregor was trapped in his job by his duty to his family and he kept on dreaming of the day when he could finally pay off their debts and quit his job. His need for freedom from the restrictive demands of work is expressed in his metamorphosis, by means of which he escapes. This escape, however, fails to bring Gregor freedom, for he was imprisoned by his family in his room. Thus, when Gregor works, he is enslaved by his job and, when he doesn’t work, he is enslaved by his family. For him, there was no way of balancing out freedom and duty and his only escaped from all that was death. This links to how Kafka’s family wanted him to stick with his job and that he was the sole bread
Kafka uses this physical change, which occurs to Gregor in order to show the measure opinion of the people depend on the social roles we play. This symbol is used to show how successful and energetic man can turn to social outcast during one night.
Kafka uses expressionism in the poem to convey his message to the audience. It was based on the belief that inner reality, or a person’s thoughts and feelings, are more important than the “objective” reality outside the person. He portrayed this inner reality through the use of symbolic rather than realistic characters, where he turned Gregor into a cockroach instead of keeping him as a human throughout the novel. At the same time, Kafka was also influence by existentialism. It is a belief that people are “created” by the experiences they undergo. It is action and making choices that give life meaning. This is shown in the novel when his family transitions from being very dependent on Gregor to being independent. The experience cause them to make better moral choices.
Kafka made this ending satisfying as he managed to convey his personal message throughout the novel in this ending. This ending is extremely significant as he shows how the family members had a total change in perception about moral values compared the beginning of the novel. At the same time, Kafka is also influenced by his life and experiences allowing him to add a personal touch to it by using Gregor to reflect himself in the novel. Also, he is influenced by expressionism and existentialism allowing him to engage the reader in a better way and making the novel more all rounded.
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