Existentialism in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and The Hunger Artist

Existentialism in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and The Hunger Artist

Length: 1397 words (4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Existentialism in The Metamorphosis and The Hunger Artist

 
  Existentialism is a philosophy dealing with man's aloneness in the universe. Either there is no God or else God stands apart from man, leaving him free will to make his own choices. From this basic idea of man being alone in an uncertain and purposeless world, many related ideas have developed. One great worry of existentialist writers is that life is becoming too complicated and too impersonal. People become more and more involved with their work, which is taking them away from their friends, family, and culture. However, these provide the only "meaning" that life could possibly have. One author prominently known for his work with existential ideas was Franz Kafka. Kafka, who wrote from the mid-1910's until the early 1920's, took the ideas of existentialism and interwove them so well into his novels and short stories that they became a trademark of his writing. Two of his stories are good examples of this philosophy: The Metamorphosis and "The Hunger Artist."

 

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor, the protagonist, works as a salesman. He doesn't like his job but works very hard, making his job his life. When he wakes up one morning having turned into a dung beetle (or perhaps a cockroach?) during the night, he thinks only about how he is going to get to work, not how it happened or what he can do about it. The hunger artist is also completely dedicated to his job, which is fasting. To him it is an art, one which he works at day and night. All of his thoughts focus on how he can improve himself. At the end of forty days (which was the fasting limit set by his manager), he always asks himself, "Why stop now when [I am] in [my] best fasting for...


... middle of paper ...


...

 

In both stories, Kafka deals with existentialist ideas. He touches on the view that society is becoming too complicated, too impersonal, and suggests that in our compulsion for work we are getting out of touch with each other. When we start treating humans as inanimate objects instead of people, the results are disastrous. Although Kafka makes these dismal observations, he also provides for a brighter future. Although humans as a group are becoming less and less personal, he seems to say, an optimistic future is possible if individuals will only stop and examine themselves and their relationships with other people.

 

WORKS CITED

Kafka, Franz. "The Hunger Artist." In The Collected Short Stories of Franz Kafka. Ed. Nahum Glatzer. London: Penguin, 1983.

---. The Metamorphosis. Trans. Stanley Corngold. New York: Bantam, 1972.

 

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Existentialism Essay

- “The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.” This quote, by Anton Chekhov, seems obvious and easy to relate to. However, it perfectly describes the concept of existentialism, which is neither obvious nor relatable. Existentialism is “a modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands that they make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe” (“Existentialism”)....   [tags: Philosophy ]

Powerful Essays
2350 words (6.7 pages)

Existentialism in Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis Essay examples

- Existentialism in Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis In Franz Kafka’s short story, Metamorphosis, the idea of existentialism is brought out in a subtle, yet definite way. Existentialism is defined as a belief in which an individual is ultimately in charge of placing meaning into their life, and that life alone is meaningless. They do not believe in any sort of ultimate power and focus much of their attention on concepts such as dread, boredom, freedom and nothingness. This philosophical literary movement emerged in the twentieth-century, when Kafka was establishing his writing style in regards to alienation and distorted anxiety....   [tags: Kafka Literature existentialism]

Free Essays
1489 words (4.3 pages)

Rhetorical Analysis Of Franz Kafka 's ' The Merciless Treatment Of Gregor '

- 1. The series of rhetorical questions Kafka utilized emphasizes the merciless treatment Gregor receives at the firm. Kafka depicts the dehumanization Gregor experiences, as companies fail to recognize the individual since businesses only care about the efficiency of the individual. It illustrates that a company has suspicion of anyone who skips a day from work and assumes that he or she is dishonest. Kafka implies that businesses ignore its employees and places importance on profit and accomplishment....   [tags: The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, Existentialism]

Powerful Essays
1349 words (3.9 pages)

The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka Essay

- In Franz Kafka 's novella The Metamorphosis many ideologies and personal family relations are examined and brought to light. These include views of existentialism and estrangement, both of which that are demonstrated by Gregor 's personality and his family members. Many of these elements are found in Gregor’s personal affairs, as well as how he goes about enduring his metamorphosis. The strife in which Gregor and his family share has a particular Id, Ego, and Super-Ego-like quality to it, which later blends into a theory discovered by Freud years later....   [tags: The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, Psychoanalysis]

Powerful Essays
815 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of The Book ' Metamorphosis ' By Franz Kafka

- Gregor’s Guilt Guilt can kill even the strongest people. In the book Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Gregor Samsa chose to isolate himself from society because of his busy life and job. This book is viewed off of the term existentialism in which every choice one makes will affect them in one way or another in the future. Through this job, his family, and the transformation Gregor experiences a large amount of guilt. Gregor did not like his job but due to the fact that he felt the need to support his family, Gregor continued on with his career as long as he could....   [tags: The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, Gregor Samsa]

Powerful Essays
1257 words (3.6 pages)

The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka Essay

- Capitalistic Society and Alienation in The Metamorphosis The human psyche is a fragile and complicated entity. In the text, The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka introduces Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman that wakes up to find himself turned into an insect. There are no rhetoric or complications with the assessment. There is never an explanation given as to why this transformation or metamorphosis has occurred. Thus, due to Samsa’s transformation, Gregor Samsa is continuously isolated from the rest of his family who in turn, isolate Samsa even more as time passes....   [tags: The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, Capitalism]

Powerful Essays
1655 words (4.7 pages)

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Essays

- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a classic piece of literature. This masterpiece of stunning psychological, sociological and existential angst has blessed the minds of readers since it was written in 1912. It is the story of Gregor Samsa, a hardworking man trying to pay off the debt of his family, but transforms into a vermin, (bug). There are many parallels of Kafka’s life to Gregor’s in Metamorphosis. Both Kafka and Gregor were in family and social discord, and a bureaucracy of a work world....   [tags: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis]

Powerful Essays
1455 words (4.2 pages)

Essay about The Trial by Franz Kafka as an Autobiography

- The Trial by Franz Kafka as an Autobiography      Franz Kafka was a very intelligent writer of his times. Kafka was born in Austro-Czechoslovakia. He was mainly a writer of short stories, and complex diaries, yet he did publish a small number of novels. The works of Kafka have been interpreted as allegorical, autobiographical, psychoanalytical, Marxist, religious, existentialist, expressional, and naturalist. His novels have a wide variety of interpretations. Of his novels, The Trial is one of the more complex in aspects of literature (Bryfonski and Hall 288)....   [tags: Trial Franz Kafka Essays]

Powerful Essays
2050 words (5.9 pages)

Essay about The Castle By Franz Kafka

- To live is not just to exist. For one to exist one must live, explore, and learn about life’s ways. For some existence may be a hard thing to achieve in life. The Castle, by Franz Kafka depicts the meaning of life and existence, showing that human nature can make one’s life a difficult journey. In the novel, Kafka shows that life is never the way it seems and will always have loose ends.      Such a journey life is, especially for K. wondering around looking for a place to which he belonged, somewhere to call home....   [tags: Franz Kafka]

Powerful Essays
634 words (1.8 pages)

Existentialism in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis Essay

- Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis is a masterfully written short story about Gregor Samsa, a man who devotes his life to his family and work, for nothing in return. Only when he is transformed into a helpless beetle does he begin to develop a self-identity and understanding of the relationships around him. The underlying theme of The Metamorphosis is an existential view that says any given choice will govern the later course of a person's life, and that the person has ultimate will over making choices....   [tags: Metamorphosis essays]

Powerful Essays
615 words (1.8 pages)