Vishal S Shah
The Metamorphosis: The Potrait Of Kafka’S Li Essayfe
The Metamorphosis written by Franz Kafka is considered one of the few great, poetic works of the twentieth century. Addressing The Metamorphosis, Elias Canetti, a Nobel Prize-winning author, has commented, “In The Metamorphosis Kafka has reached the height of his mastery: he has written something which he could never surpass, because there is nothing which The Metamorphosis could be surpassed by – one of the few great, perfect poetic works of this century” (Corngold ix). There are many symbolisms and parallelisms used in the story. “Kafka’s disturbing, symbolic fiction, especially The Metamorphosis, written in German, not only prefigures the oppression and despair of the late 20th century” but also is an account of the dramatic transformations that had occurred during his own life (“Kafka Franz”, Funk…, 2000). This beautifully written masterpiece of Kafka’s is clearly symbolic of his own life and nightmare-like life experiences he had with his father.
“Suppose all that you have always valued in your life was shown to be an illusion. What if your precious beliefs, maxims, platitudes, and traditions were inverted and distorted beyond recognition? You suddenly realize that what is good is bad; what is beauty is foul; what is virtue, vice. What if all your points of reference were to shift: North becomes South; black becomes white; deviant becomes saint; saint becomes deviant. Suppose that this transformation — a metamorphosis of perception — were to come to you and you alone. Suddenly you awake, and in utter solitude you discover that
your values have reversed along with you: you are a roach!” (http://www.vr.
net/her…). Your world is abruptly and totally changed! This is Gregor portrayed in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
With the opening of the story, Kafka right away jumps into the woken yet uneasy dreamy state of Gregor, a young commercial traveler. With the rise of Gregor, Kafka describes the dull, gloomy and humid environment that foreshadows the decay and deterioration of Gregor’s life. As soon as Gregor opens his eyes, he finds himself positioned in an uncomfortable manner and transformed into a monstrous vermin or a gigantic insect, a worthless creature, with his hard armor-plated back lying on the bed: “He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his dome-like belly divided into stiff arched segments…” (Kafka 296). With this arresting opening, Kafka has set his mysterious psychological fantasy in motion.
He plainly describes Gregor’s uneasiness of keeping himself balanced in his bed. “His numerous pitifully thin legs waved helplessly in the air before his eyes” (296). Just so the readers are not left in confusion, Gregor asserts that “It was not a dream,” and sees for himself, in disbelief, that he is still in his own regular human bedroom, with a collection of cloth samples widespread on the top of the table (296). Slowly and gradually, we notice Gregor’s difficulty in getting up from his bed and his effort to get up safely without hurting hims5elf. This is clearly seen when the narrator says, “If he tried to bend a leg, it first straightened out; and if he finally succeeded in taking charge of it, the other legs meanwhile all kept carrying on, as if emancipated, in extreme and painful agitation”
(297). Through this description of his difficulties one can clearly see his miserable suffering and his slowly deteriorating health.
The use of lengthy descriptions of the difficulties that Gregor faces probably signifies Kafka’s actual feelings and pains that he suffered within his life, mainly during
his childhood. Gregor’s difficulties in getting up from his bed actually relate to the difficulties that Kafka faced the very morning of the initial composing of The Metamorphosis. In regard to this he wrote Felice Bauer, his German fiance:
I was simply too miserable to get out of bed. It also seemed to
me that last night my novel got much worse, and I lay in the lowest
depths. I’ll write you again today, even though I still have to run
around a lot and shall write down a short story that occurred to me
during my misery in bed .