Answer all of the following questions.
Please use no more than the recommended number of words for you answer to each question.
1. How does the narrative perspective of either ‘Metamorphosis’ or ‘The Judgement’ impact on the reader’s understanding of the story? (150 words)
In both cases, the stories are told from a third-person perspective, nevertheless, it only focuses on the protagonist's point of view. In ' The Metamorphosis' there's a limited omniscient narrator who despite being well aware of the circumstances, only tells the story from Gregor's thoughts, feelings, and perception. No other insight is given, readers never know what other characters think or feel as their reaction to the metamorphosis is only described through Gregor's eyes. This technique allows the reader to dive deep into Gregor's dimension and become fully aware of the depths of his inner self. No other reality is highlighted except for Gregor's, we never know what happens out of his visual rage, we read the story only through his mind almost going through the metamorphosis with him. The narration creates a claustrophobic atmosphere where we become engulfed in Gregor's enslaved condition, his alienation and his constant sense of guilt.
2. To what extent does a knowledge of the context in which either ‘Metamorphosis’ or ‘The Judgement’ was written affect our reading of it? (150 words)
The context and historical period in which both texts were written have had a relevant impact on their structure and the choice of themes. Being influenced by the cultural movement of the time, Modernism, both texts present some of its typical traits.
For instance, 'The Metamorphosis' deals with the concept of alienation introduced through Gregor's job that he feels obliged to perform in order to sustain his family and earn enough money to access the bourgeois lifestyle of his society. Therefore, he becomes an example of those dehumanized individuals who are oppressed by capitalism. His metamorphosis can be interpreted as the loss of his place in the world which suits the sense of uncertainty and loss of fixed values during Modernism as well as his detachment from the world caused by a materialistic and industrial society. Also, the highlighting of the individual thoughts and observations is typical in modernist prose.
3. Did you read the stories in German, English or another language? Do you think the language in which you read them affected your interpretation of them? Can you support your conclusion with any specific examples? (100 words)
I've read both stories in English and I do think that languages are textual, certain words or expressions are simply untranslatable therefore the loss or alteration of their original meaning compromises how we receive the narration. In ' The Metamorphosis' Gregor becomes an 'Ungeziefer ' which in English is translated as 'beetle' or 'vermin' but Kafka didn't choose that term only because it describes a bug but also because ' Ungeziefer' was used as an anti-semitic insult in a period of tension between Christianism and Judaism. Kafka himself was Jewish and clearly this choice of words provides a double meaning that only exists in German.
4. Do you think reading either ‘Metamorphosis’ or ‘The Judgement’ via a psychoanalytic, a sociological or a gender studies perspective can add something to our reading of the story? If so, what, and, if not, why not? You may refer to only one of these perspectives in your answer. (200 words)
I believe reading 'The Judgment' through a psychoanalytic prospect guide the reader to its real meaning. According to Freud's archetypes, Georg's friend may represent the Id: Gerog’s opposite and most unstable side, who fled home, who's financially unsuccessful, and who's escaped his obligations to pursue his career away from any parental grip. Therefore, he could also be a reflection of Georg's oppressed inner desires. On the other hand, his father symbolizes Freud's archetype of 'superego': he's a figure of authority who accuses Georg of trying to step over him, taking his business while neglecting him. He accuses Georg of choosing his fiancee, Felicia, over his father and of having replaced his mother with her. Felicia, in Freud's terms, could represent either an object of 'sexual desire' or the kind of well- established life he's conquered. The superego sees past the facade of the respectable man Georg pretends to be and unravels his most 'devilish' side revealing Georg's unfaithfulness to his fiancee, his plans to dispose of his father, and his lack of financial skills. Therefore, Georg, who symbolizes the Ego, torn between the two sides, succumbs the superego's judgment and commits suicide carrying out his father's death sentence by drowning.
5. ‘Metamorphosis’ has been described as having ‘the flavour of a personal nightmare with a wider symbolic meaning.’ (John Hibberd). The same could be said of ‘The Judgement’. To what extent do you think this is an accurate description of either ‘Metamorphosis’ or ‘The Judgement’? What evidence can you offer to support your view? (200 words)
'Metamorphosis' has, indeed, a wider symbolic meaning as Gregor's condition is also a reflection of social and cultural issues of the time. The way Gregor's withering is necessary to his sister's blossoming can be a demonstration of how in a capitalistic society one builds his fortune at the expense of others.[footnoteRef:1] His metamorphosis in a vermin might symbolize an attempt to redeem himself from the hegemonic male stereotype imposed both by his family and his society. His need for freedom from an enslaved and alienated life, from his obligations, leads him from being the carer to the one who needs care. It is, therefore, a quest for identity which eventually terminates with loss. Becoming a bug confines him in estrangement, he might escape the pressure of expectations but fails to find fulfillment and recognition. Losing his role as son, as a brother, as an employer deprives him of all he was ever known for, leaving him to nothingness. The need to have a role in society is another meaning of the story, so as the incapacity to resolve the dualism between 'want' and 'must' in a society that plagues us with guilt and regret. Redemption ‘from the world in the world’ is not possible .[footnoteRef:2] [1: Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis”. The Metamorphosis (A Norton Critical Edition), translated by Susan Bernosfky, Columbia University. Edited by Mark M. Anderson. W.W Norton & Company, 2014] [2: Hibberd John, “Kafka: Die Verwandlung” (Critical Guides to German Texts,3) London, Grant & Cutler, 1985, 69pp.]