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The Importance Of Symbolism In Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka

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Franz Kafka was born into a Jewish family on July 3, 1883, and passed away on June 3, 1924. During his youth years, Franz spent most of his time focusing on his writing. However, he died shortly after of tuberculosis. The fictional novel 'the metamorphosis was written by Franz Kafka and is commonly known for Kafka's best literary works because of his strategy to embody his own life in connection with the protagonist in metamorphosis. This novel mentions Kafka's personal life into a fantasy story with fictional characters. It demonstrates the difficulties of living in the modern world which at that time was and the struggle for acceptance of others when at the moment of need. During Franz's years, different motives have led him into writing this novel and relating the characters with his own life. The author, Franz Kafka himself, uses descriptive words to emphasize his emotions towards the character. The main motives include Franz's relationship with his father and family, his job, and symbolism which has a major impact on the book.

The Metamorphosis is a short story in which a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, turns into a monstrous vermin as he woke up. The story mentions self-disgust about the betrayal of his family and regarding the horrid arbitrary power. As this monstrous vermin crawl on the floor, he is at risk of being stepped on by his father. His family oversees very well without him. They confine Gregor to his room and throw rubbish at him. The family holds a gathering and concludes that this ‘creature' has to be gone. Gregor listens discreetly and dies after. The family becomes slightly ashamed of themselves, but only slightly.

Franz had a difficult relationship with his family, mainly with his father. His mother, Julie Kafka, was a committed homemaker who lacked the intellectual depth to comprehend her child's fantasies to turn into a writer. His father, Hermann Kafka, had a strong commanding character that frequently overpowered the Kafka home. He was successful in his business, making his living retailing people's clothes. Throughout the novel, the relationship between Gregor and his father is in some ways related to Franz Kafka and his father, Herman. By writing this novel, Franz makes these similarities and difficulties apparent and he uses specific expressions to describe each character. The protagonist, Gregor, is shown to be pushed by anonymous forces which in this case his father is the force. Thus, showing that he went through loneliness depression and implied his feelings to the character. As the reader meets Gregor Samsa's father, it is indicated how easily he is provoked to anger. The father, Mr. Samsa, went murmuring like a wild man when Gregor first left his room in his new state as a bug. 'With a hostile expression, his father clenched his fist, as if to drive Gregor back into his room, then looked uncertainly around the living room, shielded his eyes with his hands, and sobbed with heaves of his powerful chest.' Simply, this indicates how indistinguishable Mr. Samsa and Hermann Kafka are. During Franz Kafka's years, he was exposed to abuse and constant hollering from his dad since he was a disappointment in his eyes and could not meet his expectations. When Mr. Samsa sees what has occurred to his son, he is promptly outraged. Gregor's father was retired and his younger sister was as yet youthful and not working. 'Besides, I also have my parents and my sister to worry about. I'm in a tight spot, but I'll also work my way out again. Don't make things harder for me than they already are.' It is shown that Gregor felt as if he had let the family down. He figured it would be hard for his family to be financially secure without him working. Ad this indicates how he does not have any human rights and is slowly being dehumanized throughout the story. 'If only his father did not keep making this intolerable hissing sound! It made Gregor lose his head completely.' The feeling of aloneness and not being accepted entered his thoughts as no one seemed no care about him. These feelings could have been similar to feelings of loneliness that Kafka felt in his own life after mistreatment from his father. Throughout the metamorphosis, it is obvious that Franz Kafka was writing a story of his own twisted life. The mental and physical abuse that Gregor went through is the same as what Kafka has experienced. Both Gregor and Kafka were abused and neglected by their fathers. Kafka uses Gregor changing into a bug as a way of exaggerating himself, attempting to express his emotions through Gregor. Therefore, the story of metamorphosis is related to Kafka's personal life and how he interpreted his feelings to the characters.

Throughout Kafka's life, he has been to many different jobs such as a lawyer, insurance broker, screenwriter, and author. Whenever Kafka advised his dad that he wanted to become a writer, not a shop owner, his father got very irritated and mistreated him. Thus, Kafka spent most of his life living the expectations of his father which he couldn't fulfill in some cases. During the metamorphosis, Gregor is shown to have no human rights as mentioned before. 'What a grueling job I've picked!', 'if I didn't hold back for my parent's sake, I would've quit long ago.' This indicates that Gregor's parents do not care about the emotions of their son and only want him for his work. Thus, Gregor becomes dehumanized and cannot live with his freedom. And it is shown that Gregor is only working for his parents and has given up on his own human life. The character, Gregor, isn't living for himself, he's been DE individuated.

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The metamorphosis mentions different symbols such as the picture of the woman in furs, the father's uniform, and food. As mentioned in the beginning, the image of the lady in fur is a symbol of Gregor's previous humankind. 'Over the table, on which an unpacked line of fabric samples was all spread out – Samsa was a traveling salesman – hung the picture which he had recently cut out of a glossy magazine and lodged in a pretty gilt frame. It showed a lady done up in a fur hat and a fur boa, sitting upright and raising against the viewer a heavy fur muff in which her whole forearm had disappeared.' This represents feminity and has a sexual view. In this case, this image of the charming lady was appealing towards Gregor and his desires while the fur she wears could represent wealth to Gregor. He views this image as one object from his previous life that he could spare and shows that he once had a life with his manhood.

The uniform the dad wears for his job symbolizes his pride and dignity, as well as Gregor's feelings of pity and respect for him. During the story, the reader mainly views the father from Gregor's perspective and how he describes the father as short-tempered. Throughout the chapters of the book, we find out the failure of the father's business and he was in debt. Through Gregor, it is shown that he views his father as a discouraged man whom he does not respect. As the story goes on, the father is seen wearing his uniform in the evening as he is sleeping. Therefore, the dignity the uniform passed on to the father disintegrates, and Gregor once again looks at him with pity.

Food symbolizes the way the Samsa Family members feel towards Gregor. Grete is the only family member Gregor feels closest to and cares very much. Grete is seen in chapter two where she leaves milk and bread for Gregor, representing sympathy to him after his transformation. When she realizes that Gregor hasn't eaten anything, she brings out various foods for him to eat. However, the family starts losing enthusiasm towards him and eventually stop caring about him. Eating is a symbol of greed, pleasure, and enjoyment. As shown in the story, Gregor eventually likes eating a lot and he starts to enjoy it. Franz has suffered from an illness during 1924, he developed laryngeal tuberculosis that prevented him from eating anything without huge pain. He shortly died after.

In conclusion, we've learned that Kafka's world isn't very pleasant through his writings such as The Metamorphosis. The psychology of each novel he wrote is directly related to his family, specifically his father. There were different motifs as to why he wrote metamorphoses such as his relationship with his father, his job, and many more. The story also emphasized different symbols such as eating, the father with his uniform, and the lady in the fur coat. Kafka has once mentioned that literature must reconnect us with feelings and emotions that may be unendurable to ponder yet need our attention. His stories were the most touching, heartbreaking, and disheartening stories.

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The Importance Of Symbolism In Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka. (2021, August 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 9, 2023, from
“The Importance Of Symbolism In Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka.” Edubirdie, 19 Aug. 2021,
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