Symbolism in the Metamorphisis by Franz Kafka

9 September 2016

The Metamorphosis, a novella written by Franz Kafka, the author demonstrates a connection between the transformation of the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, into dirty vermin to he isolated condition of human kind. The similarities between Gregor’s isolation and humans’ is revealed through symbolism. And through many symbols, the entire novella depicts an allegory of isolation and alienation. Throughout this allegory, Kafka does not reveal the meaning of the story outwardly.

Instead his use of symbols guide the reader and help to reveal the hidden agenda of the novella. A major symbol used in The Metamorphosis, is “vermin” or the dung beetle. The transformation of Gregor into the dung beetle is chosen opposed to something else due to the fact it is a repulsive, unhygienic creature. Humans have a natural aversion to organisms such as these thus portraying his enhanced isolation from his family. This also relates to the overall isolation of the human condition.

Symbolism in the Metamorphisis by Franz Kafka Essay Example

Lansburg states “When in society any group of men characterized by anomalous taste or social or racial heredity is de-nounced as “vermin” there will always be one group that will from then on see nothing but the other others’ rottenness,, and another fraction within the scorned group that will think and act as if they had truly been transformed into vermin,” this quote relates to how Gregor felt. In the beginning of the novella, the reader is informed that Gregor is undertaking a great psychological stress, he has devoted his time to supporting his family with his demanding job as a traveling salesmen.

His job of deep isolation and no human relationships results in Gregor actually becoming or perhaps believing he is a “vermin,” just as Lansburg described in the quote, when one is treated like “vermin” they will begin to act like it. Another symbol used to depict isolation and a need for a human relationship is the picture of the women in fur, “which Gregor cut out of a glossy magazine and lodged in a pretty frame. It showed a lady done up in a fur hat and fur boa, sitting up right and raising up against the viewer a heavy fur muff in which her whole forearm had disappeared.

This photograph depicts an allegory of Gregors link to humanity. In the first chapter, Gregor’s relationship with a magazine cut-out, rather a real women, portrays his alienation from other humans, representing his personal human identity he’s lost. The glass in the frame, acts as a block between humanity and himself, reminding him that humanity is out of his reach. Furthermore this symbolizes human loneliness and longing for contact with others, for Gregor can not actually interact with the photo. The entire novella, The Metamorphosis, is in itself an allegory.

The reader is left to infer many different events in the novella, which is due to the many interpretations of it. The reader could infer that Gregor is only an insect in a moral or psychological sense, and that perhaps this “metamorphosis” occurred as a subconscious way to escape his obligations for his family. However, the many symbols throughout the novella depict a strong message that human kind over all falls victim in many ways to isolation. Gregor is the main allegory which demonstrates human kinds alienation and loss of human connection, the author does so by transforming Gregor into a filthy dung beetle.

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