Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a novella that follows the story of Gregor Samsa who, one day, wakes up as an insect. On the surface, it’s just a story about a man who’s transformed into a bug; but, when deeper analyzed, you come to understand that it’s a about a man who was always a bug conflicted by his identity in a class struggle between what is known as the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. Kafka’s work was written in a time in history when the struggles between the classes were becoming more defined due to the rise of industrialization and other changing social structures. This story can best be interpreted though a Marxist lens. In Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, his Marxist ideology comes through in the way the characters represent the struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie classes during the turn of the century.
It’s apparent in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis -as with any author- that his own personal experiences influence his work. His socio-economic status matches up with that of the Samsa’s. Kafka had a Jewish, German-speaking family. They were middle-class and lived in Prague, which was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at that time. Where Kafka lived, there was disunity between Czech- and German-speaking people. The Jewish community found themselves stuck in between, which probably left Kafka in search of an identity considering he was fluent in both languages. Gregor had a similar experience when his father was no longer able to work and he had to support the family. They went from being upper-middle class to lower-middle class and perhaps even poor. The family was conflicted by their transition from the bourgeoisie to the proletarian class.
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...tical citations for The Metamorphosis follow the format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). If it’s unknown where the quote is from, it’s cited as (Kafka). The Communist Manifesto is cited by its page number.
Bourgeois. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 06 Apr. 2014.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. New York: Bantam, 1986.
Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. "The Communist Manifesto." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: Norton, 2001. 769-773.
Proletariat. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 06 Apr. 2014.
Reese, Robert J. "Marxist Theory in The Metamorphosis." CaSaWoMo. N.p., 2004. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.
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