The Metamorphosis of Frank Kafka

R.Preeti 6/5/2008 THE METAMORPHOSIS Frank Kafka was born in a middle Jewish family and was raised in a period when there was much unrest and division in society. He was a Jew in the German land and a German in the Czech land. All along, he had been through psychological and physical turmoil, which is quite evident in his work.
"The Metamorphosis" is the story of a man, Gregor, who transforms into a giant bug! This is the beginning of the story—Gregor transforms into a bug and is therefore, on his way to becoming an outcast. Gregor is the sole earning member of his family and when he transforms into a giant bug, the whole situation turns upside down and starts transforming slowly.
His family is initially shell-shocked but later accepts it as a part of life. However, Gregor’s room is slowly turned into a go-down of unwanted items. He ceases to be given any importance and is slowly considered an outsider within home! He cannot possibly come out of the room and sit down to spend time with his family. He is shut up in a tiny room that is a mess. One day, as the family leaves his door slightly open, so that he could listen to his sister, Grete’s singing that entertains lodgers in the house, Gregor comes out of the room and sends a shock wave in the room!
This is when the family decides that Gregor is nothing but a burden on their shoulders. Gregor passes away that night. The metamorphosis here is not solely physical. It is symbolic and signifies the transformation of the world.
The giant bug here, is symbolic of the mere pettiness of this mammoth world, where life has been transformed and rendered nothing but a social circus of activities! The metamorphosis is a depiction of the human condition in today’s world. It is representative of the degraded existence of man’s life in general. Today’s world is one that has reached an advanced stage. Science and technology, profound studies in various avenues of life and life-supporting activities have resulted in a complete luxury and comfortable lifestyle. Machines perform activities that would take hours to perform otherwise and man’s life has been rendered easy to live!
However, with the advancement in the conditions of living, man’s life has become contrastingly empty. The shallow emptiness has been brought about by high levels of isolation, lack of genuine social obligations and a more materialistic approach towards life. Happiness has become characterised by social acceptance and possession of material goods. Contentment and satisfaction depend on the same.
When one does not fall into the parameters set by the society, one tends to become an outcast. This is shown clearly in The Metamorphosis, wherein the bug that represents shallow emptiness and pettiness in the eyes of humans, is castigated and made feel all the more minute, by society.
The Freudian way of interpreting this shallow representation of man through a creature that is considered so, could mean a strained relationship, which the author did have with his father.
The end signifies the destruction of humanity, as a result of the shallowness and the materialistic approach to life. Life has become a man-made event, in today’s concrete jungle and genuine happiness is lost!
REFERENCES
‘The Metamorphosis’, Frank Kafka.

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