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Modernism in The Metamorphoses
The modernist movement in literature began around the turn of the century and createda dramatic change in the way that author's viewed their work. The new breed of writers were extremely affected by the new perception of the world and our place as human beings in it. WWII was on the verge of beginning, and the literary world was expressing their fears and attitudes toward their impending doom through their writings. Modernism has a few key themes that Franz Kafka follows throughout his piece, "The Metamorphosis." One of the most common themes among popular modernist literature are the rejection of literary tradition through experimentation with a darker style of writing. Surrealism was common among pieces which often involved the decaying of the human existence that was occurring in the (at the time) current, more face-paced, disconnected society.
In "The Metamorphoses," Kafka has his main character, Gregor Samsa waking up one morning only to discover that he is a giant insect. Despite his bizarre state, Gregor still feels as though he is well enough to go to work. Unfortunately, his new burden of being an insect leaves him having quite a difficult time getting himself out of bed and out the door of his bedroom. Gregor is always distressed to find that no one can understand or even hear what he is saying to them from his room because they did not understand his "bug language" This is Kafka's way of showing his inner feelings of uncomfortableness within his own body not only due to the impending war but also because his livelihood (writing) began to take on an overall theme of sadness and hopelessness as a result of the changing desires of society within the literature that they preferred to read. Not many people during the Modernist period wanted to read stories of happiness and success when they could not achieve these things in their lives. Misery loves company, and the public majority who read Kafka's works wanted just that from his literature.
Kafka's portrayal of Gregor as a disgruntled salesmen who was unhappy with his position in work and in life even before he somehow metamorphosed into an insect.
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I wonder if Kafka wanted us as readers to assume that Gregor has really turned into an insect, or whether the pressures of the world around him, including his debts, his need to support his family, and the job that he has been forced to take in order to pay off his father's debts as well caused him to dehumanize himself in his mind only. The only evidence that I see to support the first theory rather then the second is the response that Gregor got from his parents and his boss when he was finally able to exit the room. His father goes so far as to drive Gregor back into his room with his cane, further adding to the isolation that Gregor feels from society.