September 29, 2014
Introduction to Literature
Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"
Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" is a simple yet engrossing novel revolving around a man's estrangement due to his sudden transformation from human to insect. Kafka presents this absurd phenomenon with common language and a nonchalant tone. Through metaphor and symbolism, readers come to understand that Kafka strives impose the themes of alienation and a confused sense of personal identity.
While Kafka's language is certainly not "elementary," it is described as "common" due to the lack of extensive descriptions and explanations provided throughout the work. The story opens with the following: "When Gregor Samsa awoke in his bed one morning from unquiet dreams, he found himself transformed into an enormous insect" (Kafka 112). Readers immediately jump to the conclusion that this claim is hardly literal, given its outright blatancy. Kafka uses typical dialogue appropriate to waking up finding oneself to be an insect; "What if I slept a bit longer," "a man needs his sleep," "you can't just lie here in bed doing nothing" (112-115).
Denial is a natural emotion in this situation. Again, common language. Kafka describes Samsa's "many little legs" and "strangely broad" body in an offhand tone. Readers begin to wonder if Kafka has set this story in a world where waking up in insect form is common. When Samsa confronts his family, it is confirmed that this is indeed not a common occurrence; why is Kafka phrasing these discoveries as if they are? "The lack of description triggers signals in the reader's mind as Kafka begins to use description during areas of emphasis" ("The Way Kafka Wrote").
Why an insect? Why not alienate Gregor from his family by condemning him with an ugly blemish or deformed facial structure? There are several reasons that an insect is...