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27 September, 2012

The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka is, perhaps, the most ambiguous and mysterious figure of the European

and world literature of the 20 th century. Being the recognized innovator, the master of a word,

he created the unsteady dreamy world and placed his heroes in it, dooming them to the

eternal wandering in emptiness and attempt to find the answers to nonexistent questions.

Kafka, like nobody before him, showed the absurdity of the world and futility of

hopes. His books are especially popular among the readers nowadays, and his mysterious

figure does not leave the researchers indifferent, forcing them to struggle with the hundred

riddles of Franz Kafka.

“The Metamorphosis” (from the German “Die Verwandlung”), the novel of Franz

Kafka, was written in 1912. It is the most known “small” work of the author, a masterpiece

written in a “protocol” form peculiar to the author, tells about fantastic events. “The

Metamorphosis” by Kafka shows the tragedy of the lonely, abandoned man in front of the

absurd and senseless destiny. This is the drama of a small man, facing the irreconcilable,

obscure and grandiose fate, represented in various manifestations.

Metamorphoses occur in a family of the protagonist once in a wonderful morning. A

loving and careful son, the unique supporter in a family becomes sick; and his illness is not

known to the science. The protagonist changes, his behavior changes, and, as a result, the

attitude to his family changes.

“As Gregor Samsa awake one morning from a troubled dream, he found

himself changed in his bed to some monstrous kind of vermin” (Kafka: 1946).

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Kafka achieved the philosophical depth, insoluble questions concerning a trick of fate,

a divine providence, a biological nature and a social human life. The internal spring, defining

the psychology of today’s society and time, its pathological brutality and cruelty, were

revealed by the writer with the feeling of a painful hopelessness.

The fantastic image created by Kafka, seems provocative owing to its demonstrative

“not esthetics”. If to imagine a similar metamorphosis in a real life, all further events and

behavior of people around do not cause surprise. The only thing surprises greatly - how

simply, in an ordinary way the author told about the everyday inconveniences which have

begun for the hero and his family from the moment of transformation. Kafka narrated about

them with such a dry and laconic language the readers as though involuntarily forget about

the incredibility of the fact, which became the basis of the novel.

“The Metamorphosis” is the brightest expression of a tragic attitude and Franz

Kafka’s outlook. The transformation situation in this novel, as well as in other works of the

author, allows different interpretations. At the same time the most trivial interpretation lies

almost on a surface. It is the alienation in a family and society, loneliness of the sensitive

person, capable to compassion and self-sacrifice, the absolute loneliness caused by the

awareness of the dissimilarity to the others. Kafka pointed this hopelessness of the hero to a

limit by means of a terrible metonymy: he showed a complete spiritual isolation of the hero

through an improbable metamorphosis of his appearance.

The hero of the novel is Kafka, transformed by his unsociable character, his tendency

to loneliness, and his constant thoughts about the writing to a certain similarity of a monster.

He is consistently cut off from his work, family, meetings with other people, locked in a

room where nobody dares to step, and which is gradually emptied from the furniture.

“There are too many “coincidences” of parallelism between Franz Kafka and

Gregor Samsa to ignore the obviousness of the theme of Kafka’s work.

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Judging from the depth of depiction in his works, there is no other possible

explanation than Kafka’s writing is a representation of himself and his life,

that he just uses a different method of observation” (Batson: 2011).

A person exists only when he is active, i.e. he is valid as a person only in his activity,

because the activity is the fact by means of which a human life is created. Human life is the

creation of this life. A person is the subject and object of the activity, and these two forms are

not delayed in time. They exist as the uniform “subject - object”, but are not broken into two

various acts.

The open cynicism of this world is well combined with the system of the incessant

rigid clownishness mixed with a vulgar frankness of behavior of all its inhabitants, at the

same time at the observance of the obligatory strict hierarchy and rituality of the got internal

schedule, not excluding a certain infernal touch on everything.

“The Metamorphosis” is a big work about a fear, about the state of lonely human

being, victimized by the hostile civilization; about a person, doomed in each attempt to reach

the law, to achieve the justice, even if he is active.

The philosophy of a human life, standing beyond the politics and class theories,

comes from the psychology of fear. This universal absence of freedom of the mankind

entangled by chains - social, ideological, psychological, and moral - were revealed by Kafka

in his artistic images of “The Metamorphosis”.

Understanding his hero and sincerely sympathizing with him, the writer speaks of the

defenselessness of a person, facing the surrounding reality. A human being is only “terrestrial

ashes”, “a clay clod”, powerless, helpless, experiencing sufferings and continuous painful

defeats, doomed to the estrangement even in the environment of the closest people, to the

desolate loneliness and, at last, to death.

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Works Cited







Available at: http://www.kafka.org/index.php?aid=225

Kafka, Franz. (1946). “The Metamorphosis”. Mattituck: Vanguard Press.