Franz Kafka's Novella, The Metamorphosis Essay

Franz Kafka's Novella, The Metamorphosis Essay

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One of the saddest aspects of Franz Kafka's novella, The Metamorphosis, concerns the fact that young Gregor Samsa genuinely cares about this family, working hard to support them, even though they do little for themselves. On the surface, Kafka's 1916 novella, seems to be just a tale of Gregor morphing into a cockroach, but, a closer reading with Marx and Engels economic theories in mind, reveals an imposing metaphor that gives the improbable story a great deal of relevance to the structure of Marxist society. Samsa, the protagonist, signifies the proletariat, or the working class, and his unnamed manager represents the bourgeoisie. The conflict that arises between the two after Gregor's metamorphosis renders him unable to work represents the impersonal and dehumanizing structure of class relations. Kafka's prose emphasizes the economic effects on human relationships, therefore, by analyzing the representations of Gregor, we can gain insight into many of the ideas the writer is trying to convey.
Within the first few pages of the novella, we as readers, quickly discover the proletariat in the story. He labors as a traveling salesman, while trying to support his family and pay off his father's debt due to a failed business venture. While lying in bed, he comments on his life as a traveling sales man “Day in, day out-- on the road...I've got the torture of traveling worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food, at all hours...”(Kafka 4). The words he chooses to describe his job, “torture”, “worrying,” “miserable” dramatically show his discontent with his daily labor. Having no option other then to continue working at his monotonous job because he is a member of the class of modern wage labors, who, have no means of prod...


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...which eventually becomes so meager that he starves to death. Upon hearing the news, the family did not show sadness, but instead relief. "Well... now we can thank God!" (Kafka 55). Gregor's father felt relief of the economic burden of supporting his son. Although the exact story told in Kafka's The Metamorphosis could not occur outside the realm of fantasy, it represents the real scenario of a worker being abandoned by his employer and family after becoming unable to work and support them financially. By looking at the novella from a Marxist perspective, we see that the underlying theme of the story is a conflict between proletariat and bourgeoisie. Economics supersedes everything else in a capitalistic society, a citizen who is unable to labor and earn wages is quickly abandoned. The result of this abandonment is often, as it was in Gregor Samsa's case, death.


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