One of the honors for ‘greatest theories’ in contemporary civilization has to be awarded to Marxism. Invented in late 19th century by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Marxism has had great influences on the development of modern society. Despite its eventual failure, Marxism once led to numerous revolutions that working classes raised against the ruling parties in different countries. Consequently, it paved the way for the erection of the Berlin Wall, the formation of the Warsaw Treaties—communist camp confronting NATO, and the establishment of a world super power, the Soviet Union at the dawn of this century. Even decades later, after all those Marxist milestones have collapsed, China, with one fifth of world’s population, still faithfully believes in this theory. It is certain, then, Marxism’s effect on people’s thoughts is deep and profound. It is natural for people living in the birthplace and at the birth time of Marxism, Franz Kafka for instance, to have been affected by this theory to a greater extent.
As an author, Kafka’s affiliation with Marxism was revealed in his novella, The Metamorphosis. It tells about a German travelling salesman Gregor Samsa, who awoke one morning only to find himself transformed into a bug. Thereafter, Gregor was soon deprived of his job and was no longer able to financially support his family as he had been. Confronted with this sudden change, the family members started to discard Gregor one after the other. Not only the father, who was eager to get rid of his bug-shaped ‘son’ right after Gregor’s disaster, his mother and sister finally retracted all their love and care as well. Ending with Gregor’s miserable death, ...
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...ncy of interest lies in the fact that Gregor’s family members have to sacrifice leisure and go on work after his transformation while Gregor himself switches from a provider to a consumer. Thus, it is easy to observe a match between Gregor’s outcome and that of proletarians.
Gregor is not a bug physically, but mentally he is. A story about his denial of a life in oppression, Gregor’s metamorphosis is as well a story about his pursuit of a life with fairness. Marked by Marxist characteristics, the transformation conforms to a proletarian struggle in that they have 1) like motives--unjust social and economic position; 2) like natures—both the target and the form; and 3) like outcomes--a wretched collapse. Though noticed and commented on by few critics, Marxist thoughts are clearly presented by Kafka in terms of Gregor’s decisive turning: to live in a vermin’s world.
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