Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’

4 April 2015
A discussion on Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ focusing on his emphasis on the metamorphosis of relationships – familial and societal.

The following paper discusses the way in which Kafka through the character of Gregor Samsa, attempts to resolve his conflicts with a patriarchal and overbearing father, conflicts that plagued him all his life. The writer argues that Franz spent his whole life in his father’s shadow and ‘Metamorphosis’ thus is argued to be an expression of his relationship with his father.
Franz’s father’s chronic cruelty is also evident in the guise of Gregor Samsa’s father. While his mother and sister demonstrate concern and despair, Gregor’s father’s interaction with his now metamorphosed son are acts that could potentially kill Gregor. The first instance is the initial reaction the father has: he grabs the nearby broom and sweeps Gregor who tumbles back into the room slamming into a wall; the second instance is even more murderous: the father flings apples with the intention of killing this bug (Kafka, p. 122); Gregor manages to evade them all, except one. The apple lies lodged (rotting) in his back; and the resulting injuries may have been the cause of Gregor’s death.
One can imagine Franz’s sensitive being always plagued by guilt and conflict. The physical burden of being at the mercy of his father’s cruelty and ridicule, the burden of maintaining the integrity of being himself, and the burden of being like his father. While Franz does succeed in becoming alpha male in the story, it is possible that he did not particularly relish this role he did not derive his identity from his malenes.
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