“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” ― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
Hardly any authentic reader might be alive who hasn’t lost himself in the metamorphosed world of Kafka’s magical words. Now an icon of twentieth-century literature, Franz Kafka was never famous in his own lifetime having an audience of admirers within a small circle of German-reading intellectuals. Little did Kafka, the man who had famously asked his long time friend Max Brod to burn most of the manuscripts after his death, knew that Brod will ignore his request and instead get them published thereby making his works established classics of the twentieth century. W.H. Auden has rightly remarked, “Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man.”
The novella begins as a travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa, wakes one morning from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. The story moves as he tries the difficulty to make his own family understand his condition who in turn refuse to accept him. Kafka with such a bizarre beginning not only stresses upon the inevitability of absurdity existing in the world but also the man’s adamant attitude to accept what is different about others which results from human alienation and failed communication. Not once in the novel Gregor is seen struggling to find out why he has been transformed into the insect like creature. The struggle he further faces is to communicate with others, in this case, with his very own family members. He tries to make them understand his situation without scaring them but fails. It is not so much the visible matamorphosis of Gregor Samsa in the novella that writer wants us to focus upon but the “metamorphosis” that happened to the family after Gregor’s transformation. Although prior to his transformation, Gregor was successful in providing to his family to the degree that they ceased to be surprised by his success never showing how grateful they were, yet after his transformation when he can’t earn for them anymore, each one of his family members begin to find the existence of Gregor as a great burden that must be ended.
Highlighting further the almost unconditional adaptability of humans and their very little effort of questioning why things are the way they are (let alone change them) is inevitable throughout the plot. Gregor denies his transformation at first and then tries to find the best way to walk, the best place to sit and sleep, the best food to devour. Not once he wonders why he became what he is now. The way the family is – including Gregor – horrified at the possibility that he would lose his work, and after they find out about his transformation, money still remains the main issue they take into account while making decisions as they continue to glorify their employers, the way they deal with the clerk from the beginning, the boarders from near the end of the story, the way the father never gets out of his uniform! On the other hand, the family does not seek by any means to cure Gregor or find a solution to what happened to him and again, almost never question the sense beyond this incident. The whole predicament foreshadows how humans, only deal with suffering by embedding more suffering in their lives.
Everyone seems shut out from seeing anyone else’s perspective but their own! Gregor is doomed without knowing the charges or the verdict, and all he can do is bow to a powerful Unknown. And this is all the reader can do. Kafka powerfully dictates the essence of the being and the absurdity which blurs our understanding of it. The story doesn’t limited to the parchment but comes out alive manifesting it in one’s own life.
About The Author
Currently pursuing Masters from Department of English and Cultural Studies, Panjab University, I have a knack for writing as well as reading and wishes to develop her skill-set to be utile to society.