A Portrait of Franz Kafka's Life in his Fictional Story, Metamorphosis

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A Portrait of Franz Kafka's Life in his Fictional Story, Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka seems to have had a tough time growing up with his father, who was apparently a domineering, unapproachable man. A few years before Franz's untimely death, he wrote a long letter to his father in an attempt to address many of the lingering issues which had plagued their relationship. He may have tried through his fictional writing to reach his father prior to the letter, using a kind of "metaphor code." Franz Kafka became other characters representing himself in his fiction. In The Metamorphosis, his character, whose name is Gregor Samsa, becomes a giant beetle as the result of an unexplained transformation at the very beginning. The fact that the author is actually the main character is so cleverly disguised and the details so carefully presented that this encoded message becomes an entertaining literary work in its own right. While many of Kafka's short stories, e.g. The Judgment, A Country Doctor, appear to be vignettes, The Metamorphosis is more or less a surreal self-portrait of Franz's life and his troubled relationship with his family. The concepts of psychological abuse, entrapment and escape are ongoing themes in Kafka's work, and The Metamorphosis contains several examples that specifically relate to his father.

The main character takes the role as caretaker of the family, is transformed into a bug and left to eventually die in his room. In The Metamorphosis, the main character awakens from "troubled dreams" into an even more troubled reality. At the beginning, the rain beating against the window of his room gives him a depressed, melancholy feeling. This sets the tone for the entire story.

According to Franz Kafka, his father c...

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...or no affect on his father and their relationship, as he still felt compelled to write a long personal letter plainly stating his feelings. Although Franz intended for the letter to reach his father, it was never sent to him instead it was returned to Franz by his mother. Ironically, even in his straightforward attempt, Franz had failed, though, in a sense his father did read the letter by reading most of his son's work. The fact that he died only a few years later, long before his father did, seems to have been eerily foreshadowed in The Metamorphosis. Franz Kafka seems to have thought that some of the most liberating occurrences are those that are beyond one's control.

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. Letter to His Father (1919)

Kafka, Franz. "The Metamorphosis." Franz Kafka: The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. N.Y.: Schocken Books Inc., 1971: 89-139.
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