Frank Kafka was the oldest of six siblings. He grew up in Germany as a son of a conformed Jew. He had two of his younger brothers and all three of his sisters die in concentration camps, unfortunately. He went to the University of Prague to study law and received his doctorate in 1906. He worked in insurance until 1917 then was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was forced to quit. He passed away in 1924. His home life stood out in most of his writings and the description of how his parents treated him and how they lived their life are needed to understand the full meaning behind most of his literature’s true meanings. His father figure was an angry man who would sometimes direct his anger at his son whose only escape was in the books he read. The Mother of the household was a busy body and worked a lot, so the children rarely managed to get time with her. The kids themselves were raised by nannies and servants.
“The Metamorphosis” is a short story written along with several other short stories by an Austrian writer Frank Kafka. It was originally written in German and translated later into English. It’s one among the top few and one of the more remarkable works of 19th-century contemporary literature. The story is metaphorical in nature and seems to be more satirical towards modern society normal in regards to how you look like how rich you are and what you contribute to society much like today’s modern celebrities. The novel shows the inner workings of a family and the problems and relationships they have with each other. This story seems to show that Kafka was using this as an outlet to show his true inner workings of how he felt about some things going on in his life at the time period. He felt alone and alienated from his family he was depressed and down on his luck just like the main character in this novel. It explores the ideas of individualism and contradiction of personal and social.
A traveling salesman by the name of Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning and realizes that he transformed into an appalling bug. His family disowns him after Gregor’s physical transformation and locks him into a room alone until he dies of starvation and neglect. As the story goes on, it’s clear that Gregor’s negligence began at first before his physical transformation. The condition of Gregor in the story is essentially representative of the author’s life, Franz Kafka. He was working for the Kingdom of Bohemia at the Workers’ Accident Compensation Institution and worked for long, strenuous hours before his battle with tuberculosis forced him to take a sick leave and retire. ‘The Metamorphosis’ is a tale based on Franz Kafka’s life and reveals how Kafka’s wellness and inability to establish good relationships with others contributed to loneliness and isolation in a world of indifference.
In the novel, Gregor’s relationship with his boss leads to the alienation of Gregor, since he is seen as an accessory and not a human. On the day of Gregor’s physical shift, he did not turn up to work for the first time in his five years of service. As a result, his boss turned up without warning at his home. He then goes on to state that even with these five years of loyal service he is replaceable and not an asset to them. Gregor was an outstanding employee and never missed a day of work and for being late one day is suddenly is expressed by his boss as being “pigheaded” and inconsiderate. “The New Yorker” had a good line about Gregor and how his boss treated him:
“Gregor is a salesman, but what he’s sold is himself: his own agency and dignity, making him a sellout through and through. For this reason, I occasionally use the word “drummer” (commercial traveler) to describe his profession, referring back to another of his ilk, “a hard-working drummer who landed in the ash can like all the rest of them.” That’s Willy Loman as described by Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman (1949). The Metamorphosis is Kafka’s own Death of a Salesman, with all the sad, grubby tragedy, all the squalor. Like Willy Loman, Gregor is a suicide, though of a different sort: he dies a hunger artist, perishing of starvation because nothing tastes good to him anymore. And like Willy’s, Gregor’s death is the final service he performs for the benefit of his family.” (Bernofsky)
This relates to Kafka’s life because when he started to show symptoms of tuberculosis, he was unable to work as much as he used to. When he started to miss work because of his illness his boss may have been disappointed and not understanding of Kafka’s predicament. He may have simply believed that Kafka could return to work like nothing was wrong as if he was a machine. Kafka’s ongoing struggle with work which started prior to the setting of the book and his illness which caused tension between him and his family and is expressed through the physical transformation in Gregor’s life. Prior to his physical change, Gregor started to work heavily at which point his parents began to see him as their main provider rather than their son.
This sparks the beginning of his alienation. his boss only sees him as an accessory and not a person. In relation to Kafka, this exemplifies his problematic work-life after his signs of tuberculosis began to show and he was no longer able to work to the point he once had. Also, similarly to Kafka, after Gregor began working a lot his parents no longer saw him as their son but as their main provider. Once Gregor, like Kafka, was unable to work due to his illness, his family had to further take up the responsibility of supporting the family someone they were completely capable of doing on their own. Finally, once Gregor lost literal communication with his family his alienation and isolation sank in entirely. This and the entire book symbolize Kafka’s deteriorating feeling of his humanity when he was unable to function properly due to his battle with symptoms of tuberculosis The character and the author concentrated not only on one young man’s individual problem but on the whole society’s problem. This novel is the strongest manifestation of the world’s tragic experience which was a feature characteristic of all Kafka’s works.
This can be viewed in different ways referring to a family and social isolation, a person’s loneliness capable of compassion and self-sacrifice, one’s difference from another. Kafka portrays the intellectual and emotional alienation of the story as a result of its metamorphosis. He reveals the true and believable nature of society: you are a member of the community so you can work and do your job. If you can’t do it, however, society doesn’t need you anymore. Also, he highlights the insecurity of humans within society. A human is just an impotent and helpless ‘toy’ doomed to be alone. “The Metamorphosis” is a revolutionary story it is full of symbolic and metaphorical images that underline the tragedy of a person’s life, the isolation of the individual, his impotence before society. This is one of the stories that will get people to talk about many of “life’s problems.’
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