The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Like most Kafka works, The Metamorphosis tends to require making use of a spiritual (Max Brod) or psychological analysis by most of its interpreters. It has actually been especially common to read the story as an expression of Kafka’s daddy complex, as was first done by Charles Neider in his The Frozen Sea: A Research Study of Franz Kafka (1948 ). Besides the mental approach, analyses focusing on sociological elements which see the Samsa family as a portrayal of basic social situations, have gained a large following as well. [5]

Vladimir Nabokov rejected such analyses, noting that they do not measure up to Kafka’s art. He rather selected an interpretation guided by the artistic detail but unconditionally omitted any and all attempts at figuring out a symbolical or allegorical level of meaning. Refuting the popular father complex theory, he observed that it is the sister, more so than the father, who must be thought about the cruelest person in the story, as she is the one double-crossing Gregor. As the central narrative theme he constructs out the artist’s battle for presence in a society packed with philistines that destroys him step by step. Commenting on Kafka’s style, he composes: “The transparency of his style underlines the dark richness of his fantasy world. Contrast and harmony, design and the illustrated, portrayal and myth are seamlessly linked” (German: “Pass away Durchsichtigkeit seines Stils betont den dunklen Reichtum seiner Phantasiewelt. Gegensatz und Einheitlichkeit, Stil und Dargestelltes, Darstellung und Fabel sind in vollkommener Weise ineinander verwoben.”) [6]

In 1989, Nina Pelikan Straus composed a feminist interpretation of Metamorphosis, giving the leading edge the change of the main character Gregor’s sister, Grete, and foregrounding the household and, especially, younger sis’s change in the story. Typically, critics of Transformation have actually underplayed the reality that the story is not only about Gregor but likewise his family and especially, Grete’s transformation as it is primarily Grete, woman, child, sis, on whom the social and psychoanalytic resonances of the text depend. [7]

In 1999, Gerhard Rieck mentioned that Gregor and his sister Grete form a set, which is typical for many of Kafka’s texts: It is made up of one passive, rather austere person and another active, more libidinal individual. The appearance of figures with such almost irreconcilable characters who form couples in Kafka’s works has actually appeared given that he composed his short story Description of a Battle (e.g. the narrator/young male and his “acquaintance”). They likewise appear in The Judgement (Georg and his good friend in Russia), in all 3 of his books (e.g. Robinson and Delamarche in Amerika) in addition to in his narratives A Country Medical professional (the country physician and the groom) and A Hunger Artist (the appetite artist and the panther). Rieck views these pairs as parts of one single person (hence the resemblance in between the names Gregor and Grete), and in the last analysis as the 2 determining elements of the author’s character. Not just in Kafka’s life but also in his oeuvre does Rieck see the description of a fight in between these two parts. [8]

Reiner Stach argued in 2004 that no clarifying comments were needed to highlight the story which it was persuading by itself, self-contained, even outright. He believes that there is no doubt the story would have been admitted to the canon of world literature even if we had actually understood absolutely nothing about its author. [9]

According to Peter-André Alt (2005 ), the figure of the vermin ends up being an extreme expression of Gregor Samsa’s deprived existence. Reduced to performing his professional obligations, anxious to guarantee his improvement and vexed with the worry of making commercial errors, he is the animal of a functionalistic expert life. [10]

In 2007, Ralf Sudau took the view that particular attention ought to be paid to the concepts of self-abnegation and neglect for reality. Gregor’s earlier behavior was characterized by self-renunciation and his pride in being able to provide a secure and leisured presence for his household. When he finds himself in a situation where he himself is in need of attention and support and in danger of becoming a parasite, he doesn’t want to admit this new role to himself and be dissatisfied by the treatment he gets from his household, which is becoming more and more negligent and even hostile with time. According to Sundau, Gregor is self-denyingly concealing his nauseating look under the canapé and slowly famishing, thus practically complying with the basically outright dream of his family. His gradual emaciation and “self-reduction” shows indications of a deadly cravings strike (which on the part of Gregor is unconscious and unsuccessful, on the part of his family not comprehended or ignored). Sudau (p. 163-164) likewise lists the names of picked interpreters of The Metamorphosis (e.g. Beicken, Sokel, Sautermeister and Schwarz). According to them, the narrative is a metaphor for the suffering resulting from leprosy, an escape into the disease or a symptom beginning, a picture of a presence which is defaced by the career, or a revealing staging which cracks the veneer and superficiality of daily situations and exposes its terrible essence. He further notes that Kafka’s representational design is on one hand defined by a distinctive interpenetration of realism and fantasy, a worldly mind, rationality and clearness of observation, and on the other hand by recklessness, outlandishness and misconception. He also points to the grotesque and tragicomical, silent film-like aspects. [11]

Fernando Bermejo-Rubio (2012) argued that the story is typically seen unjustly as inconclusive. He obtains his interpretative technique from the fact that the descriptions of Gregor and his household environment in The Metamorphosis contradict each other. Diametrically opposed versions exist of Gregor’s back, his voice, of whether he is ill or currently going through the metamorphosis, whether he is dreaming or not, which treatment he should have, of his ethical perspective (false allegations made by Grete) and whether his household is blameless or not. Bermejo-Rubio emphasizes that Kafka ordered in 1915 that there ought to be no illustration of Gregor. He argues that it is exactly this absence of a visual storyteller that is important for Kafka’s job, for he who depicts Gregor would stylize himself as an omniscient storyteller. Another reason Kafka opposed such an illustration is that the reader ought to not be prejudiced in any method before his reading process was getting under method. That the descriptions are not compatible with each other is indicative of the fact that the opening statement is not to be relied on. If the reader isn’t scammed by the first sentence and still thinks of Gregor as a human being, he will see the story as conclusive and understand that Gregor is a victim of his own degeneration. [12]

Volker Drüke (2013) believes that the crucial transformation in the story is that of Grete. She is the character the title is directed at. Gregor’s transformation is followed by him suffering and ultimately dying. Grete, by contrast, has matured as an outcome of the new family situations and assumed duty. In the end– after the bro’s death– the parents also see that their child, “who was getting more animated all the time, had blossomed […] into a lovely and voluptuous girl”, and wish to search for a partner for her. From this perspective, Grete’s transition, her metamorphosis from a lady into a woman, is the subtextual style of the story. [13]

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