The Metamorphosis From A Marxist Perspective Essay

The Metamorphosis From A Marxist Perspective Essay

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This essay will look at Franz Kafka’s 1915 The Metamorphosis from a Marxist perspective. Although on the surface The Metamorphosis is a science-fiction like story of low-income, travelling salesman Gregor Samsa (the protagonist who lives with his parents and sister) being transformed into a giant insect, this close reading of the novel will argue that Gregor Samsa and his transformation are symbolic of the proletariat/working classes under a Western capitalist society. Similarly his boss (who is left unnamed during the whole story) represents the bourgeoisie. Their abusive relationship, as well as Gregor’s passive acceptance of his conditions (before and after the transformation), are indicative of how Kafka perceived the behavior of the working class in Western societies in the 20th century and how they were treated by the middle-upper classes whom they worked for.
The story is traditionally seen as being divided into three parts: Part one being Gregor first waking up to his new body; part two depicts him slowly adapting to his new figure and how his family handles the situation; and part three depicting Gregor’s death and its seemingly positive consequences to his family. However to fully understand the Marxist allegory present in the novel we have to read into Gregor’s life before the book begins. For the sake of convenience let’s call it ‘part zero’. Part zero is never directly depicted in the book, but its presence is very important to the narrative and can be linked to all three parts of the plot. A glimpse of part zero can be seen at the very beginning of the book, not only on the setting depiction (low income household who depends on Gregor’s work to survive), but more importantly in Gregor’s reaction to his new transform...


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...can also be directly related to Karl Marx’s idea that the classes with power only use the working classes as a way to secure the means of production by forcing the proletariat to dedicate their lives to labour. The degradation of Gregor’s professional life extends to his personal life as well, seen as how his family (even his sister who was the closest family member he had) also gradually abandons him. According to Marx and Engels: “The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation into a mere money relation” (222). Once Gregor is unable to provide for his family, he becomes useless to them and all the “sentimental vein”, as put by Marx and Engels, is lost in favour of the more affordable option, which is simply to get rid of him and his expenses and move to a smaller house where Gregor won’t be ‘taking up space’.

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