Translating Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis” Susan Bernofsky

Categories: Family

A female artist named P!NK once sang“In our family portrait we look pretty happy,We look pretty normal, let’s go back to that. In our family portrait we look pretty happy, Let’s play pretend, act like it goes naturally.” In Henrik Ibsen A Doll’s House , Nora, the main protagonist is normally shy, possesses many doll-like qualities that adapt to her situation and ultimately come out on top just to maintain her family as a model to follow in front of society.

On the other hand in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Kafka develops an attitude towards this situation through the use of his protagonist Gregor Samsa and his opinion and feeling towards the topic of family.

Gregor’s character shows an individual that will grasps to their ideals and fail to adapt to circumstance in order to please their family. Ibsen, Kafka, and author of “On Translating Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis” Susan Bernofsky, saw in humanity the plain fact that the character Nora from A Doll’s House and Gregor from The Metamorphosis are the ones that adapt to their surroundings to please there family, are those are willing to keep a deep secret and those willing to go through difficulties for their family.

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For many the reputation of their family is by far most important and above anything in the world. For many the focus of family is very sensitive and many individuals are willing to contribute to their families adaptation to their surroundings in order to please them.

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’Nonsense! Trying to frighten me like that!—I am not so silly as he thinks. […] And yet—? No, it’s impossible! I did it for love’s sake'(Ibsen 22). Nora is under the beliefe that love over takes the law. She believes that her family status and happiness is by far more important than the law and is willing to break the law to please them.

“He felt very proud that he had been able to provide such a life in so nice an apartment for his parents and his sister. But what now if all the peace, the comfort, the contentment were to come to a horrible end?”( Kafka 5). In this passage, Gregor reflects on life as it was before his transformation when he was the outcaet income producer for the family. Now that he’s a bug, his family automatoically lose their financial and emotional security associated with his earnings. The importance of having a family is beyond explainable, no matter how serious or criminous something could be ones family must always come first.

Many individuals are willing to do anything for their family including keeping a dark secret inorder for thier families status upon society to stay the same. “He would have to lie low and, by being patient and showing his family every possible consideration, help them bear the inconvenience which he simply had to cause them in his present condition” (Kafka 6). Here the readers are witnesses of one of the first instances of the Gregors ‘consideration,’ which seems to stand for whatever is the right or the most appropriate way of dealing with the situation.

Gregor suggests here that the best thing he can do is to not be a burden and hide himself like a deep secret from society, which might be wise considering that everything he does is interperted as an attack.’It was necessary he should have no idea what a dangerous condition he was in. It was to me that the doctors came and said that his life was in danger’ ( Ibsen 193). Nora’s main concentration is keeping her lies from Torvald Helmer as an act of love. She is willing to keep her dark secret in order for Helmet to be happy and satisfied. Many believe friends and relationships might come and go but the idea of family is that they would always be there for you no matter the times of hardship.

In the article “On Translating Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’” (2014), Susan Bernofsky claims that there are many interpretations for particular aspects of the novella, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. She develops her claim by including different translations for certain words in the original novella such as the title, “metamorphosis”, has a different meaning from the German word, “Verwandlung”, which is used in fairy tales to describe transformation; she then compares the death of Gregor Samsa to how Arthur Miller describes Willy Loman’ in Death of a Salesman (1949) as a “suicide” and a “benefit for their family.” This relate to how Gregor was willing to give up his life so he won’t be a burden to his family. Towards the end, she includes that most of the time it is seen as a “tragicomic tale” because Samsa’s “naivete” and of certain details such as claiming the family is poor yet they have enough for at least “one domestic servant.” This shows how Gregor wanted to make sure that his family instability would be secured when the hard times come alone as he stays hidden at home and once he passes away.

Overall, Ibsen, Kafka, and author of “On Translating Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis” Susan Bernofsky, saw in humanity the plain fact that the character Nora from A Doll’s House and Gregor from The Metamorphosis are the ones that adapt to their surroundings to please there family, are those are willing to keep a deep secret and those willing to go through difficulties for their family. They help the reader have an understanding of what family meant in A Doll’s House and The Metamorphosis.And how the Helmers and the Samsas would do anything possible to keep their family safe and viewed as a perfect family one similar like the Holy family.

Cite this page

Translating Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis” Susan Bernofsky. (2021, Aug 13). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/translating-kafka-s-the-metamorphosis-susan-bernofsky-essay

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