The Metamorphosis


The Metamorphosis is Kafka?s portrayal of the negative mental and physical aspects in his life. It is clear that Kafka?s low self-esteem stemmed from the lack of acceptance from his family, especially his father. The relationship between Kafka and his father can be seen in the relationship between Gregor and Mr. Samsa. This paper will use various texts to show that The Metamorphosis is a story about the impact of his negative father-son relationship on his self worth.
Kafka?s relationship to his father was parallel to that of Gregor and his father. In Kafka?s younger years, his father constantly criticized him, especially about his physical appearance. His father would brag about his awesome strength and would say something derogatory towards Franz because of his frail like body. In Crawford?s biography about Franz Kafka, it is told that by the time he was six, he was convinced that he was a weakling: his own fathers attitude did this. (17) An example of his fathers attitude is portrayed in the Metamorphosis when Gregor turns into a diseased bug. The depiction of turning into a bug is a display of Kafka?s subconscious. It is how he felt about himself based on the treatment he received from his father. The transformation of Gregor symbolizes Kafka?s fathers opinion of him.
For example, the reaction to the transformation by Mr. Samsa is not one of pity, but one of anger. From the first time you meet Gregor?s father, we are shown what a hot temper he has. When Gregor first reveals himself from the bedroom, already having transformed into a bug, pitilessly his father came on, hissing like a wild man. (Kafka 19). Gregors father then chases him back to his room kicking him on his back as he reached the doorway. This situation is very similar to what Franz went through as he was maturing. Kafka was verbally abused by his father because he was seen as a failure. He was supposed to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a businessman. Instead, he wanted to pursue his passion for writing which his father seen as a waste of time. The example above from Metamorphosis shows the similarities between Mr. Samsa and Hermann Kafka. It shows that instead of Gregor?s father showing great concern for him, he chooses to chase after him with a cane and newspaper. This proves his fathers lack of respect for him and his ability for displaying violence.
Another portrayal of violence by Kafka is when Mr. Samsa throws an apple at Gregor and it becomes lodged in his back. It is the apple that symbolizes the beginning of an exile, or suffering. The apple makes Gregor aware that his life has changed and that he no longer holds the status of son; he isn?t of use anymore because he cannot earn money to support his family. His family also realizes this, and his father?s attitude towards his job is that of exile, because he is hit by reality when he has no choice but to become employed. It was at this point when Gregor mentally and physically starts to deteriorate. Not only is he rejected by his father, but his sister, who was his favorite, also begins to resent him. Just like Gregor, Kafka was isolated from his three sisters. Gregor?s mother begins to ignore his existence as well. But it is not just the transformation that the anger stems from, but the stress of financial stability. Just as Hermann did to Franz, Gregor?s entire family depended on him for support. Gregor was expected to get up everyday and go to a job that he hates, just to support his family. He felt used and taken advantage of. But when he transforms, he begins to think about he let his family down because he can no longer work to pay for the debts. These events are exactly the same as what Kafka went through with his family and their financial situation.
Kafka had to take on an additional job to support his family which took away his free time to write. He began to resent his family because of his loss of free time to which he devoted to his passion. This caused him to become severely depressed and even suicidal. In reference to Gregor and the apple (above), I would like to note that as the apple started to