“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”– Franz Kafka
Change is a catalyst of varied spectrum. For some it brings excitement, while for others it is stifling. But for Gregor Samsa, the change he witnessed brought nothing but dread and agony.
It so happens, that one day when Gregor wakes up, he finds himself transformed into a giant insect; a monstrous vermin, a literal translation from the German. This throws him into distress at first, but he soon recuperates from this unexpected and bizarre transformation and opines that his current predicament might be just an ordeal of a short period and he will recover soon.
The self-assurance brings much needed solace to him, and when the panic ebbs, the time arrives for Gregor to reflect upon his life; and reflects he does. He thinks of his life of a salesman; a job he hates to his core. Something, which he would’ve left a long time ago had it not been for his family’s debt to his chief, a person he despised. It’s for the sake of his bond with the family, he continued to endure the pain of this dissatisfaction. But it was soon to come to an end.
As Gregor’s malady continues, the aloofness that he experiences with his family, especially with his father, increases exponentially. His mother and sister, the two members, whom he holds close, also grow distant from him. In fact, his sister, with whom he shared a thick bond, was the one who insisted to throw him out. Gradually, Gregor descends into an irrevocable gloom.
What fate befalls Gregor at the end? It will be better to find out for yourself by reading this exquisite piece of literature.
The blend of absurd, surreal and mundane which gave rise to the adjective “kafkaesque”. ― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
Franz Kafka wrote ‘The Metamorphosis’ at the end of 1912, soon after he finished ‘The Judgement’. It was first published in the year 1915. During its initial years of publication, it managed to garner barely any attention, but over the years, it captured several minds and has found a nook in the hearts of several booklovers. Considered as one of the finest pieces of literature ever crafted, even Vladimir Nobokov held this work in high regards.
If we go into the allegorical aspect of Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’, then several interpretations have been made by various critics and writers alike. Some are of the notion that it has roots in Kafka’s religious perspective, while some, like Nabokov, believed that it stemmed from his morbid experiences and his outlook. However, one thing is certain, that Kafka’s haunting work is somewhat a reflection of the relationship he shared with his family.
Kafka had a strained relationship with his family. The only solace for him was his writing. So, after his graduation, Kafka joined a huge Italian insurance company, but remained unhappy. The reason for this being the time crunch didn’t allow him to write much, as he desired to. He soon resigned and found a suitable employment with Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia. This proved beneficial for him, as he could smoothly do his work and immerse himself in the evenings towards his writings. He accumulated the experiences of his life and poured it into this piece of literature.
I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness. ― Franz Kafka
Take Gregor’s father for example, everyone is aware of the fact that Kafka’s father was a harsh, authoritative figure, who didn’t shy away from using strict disciplinary conduct to turn his son into a man. An act which only catalysed Kafka’s reserved and timid behaviour. In the same way, Gregor’s father also exhibits cold behaviour towards him, which adds to his plight. Likewise, Gregor’s mother is a close reflection of Kafka’s own mother and sister, and like them, these two also found themselves helpless in helping Gregor.
In short, I would like to sum it up that ‘The Metamorphosis’ is a brilliant work of absurdity and surrealism. A evocative blend of fantasy and realism. It has inspired many writers and paved the way for a literary genre which we all know as ‘Magical Realism.’ Mirroring Kafka’s personal reservations and agony that he suffered throughout his life, this literary piece is simply to not be missed.