HOW FRANZ KAFKA MANAGES TO TEACH US THE IMPORTANCE OF EXISTIAL ALIENATION
THE METAMORPHOSIS BY FRANZ KAFKA…A STORY ABOUT EXISTENTIALISM, ABSURDITY OF LIFE AND ALIENATION
How would you feel if you wake up one fine morning and see yourself transformed into a monstrous vermin? What would you do next and how would your family members react to it? Sounding quite strange, isn’t it? Well, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is about this strange transformation which the protagonist of the novella, Gregor Samsa goes through, however, several underlying meanings and themes are attached to this apparently simple and weird outer lining.
Kafka is a famous author, who was born to a middle class Jewish family. He was not in good terms with his father and had a disturbed childhood. His feelings of alienation and sufferings are highlighted in almost all his works, with The Metamorphosis being the most famous among all. Kafka was always under an authoritative power who came into his life in the form of politicians, judges, aristocrats and most importantly his psychologically abusive father. His childhood and his entire life at large was very disturbing and gloomy, especially due to his lack of communication and an unhealthy relationship with his father. Kafka has not mentioned about him directly in any of his works, but the indication is quite understandable. He was constantly neglected by his father and his mother was quite inferior in front of him.
The Metamorphosis is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family. He is treated like an outsider in his own house, deprived of proper food and was constantly attacked by others. Finally, the story ends with his demise and his father is shown to be completely unaffected by this. The Samsa family goes out for a vacation and talks about the marriage of their beautiful daughter. If their daughter is married in a well-to-do family, they can start dreaming afresh since their son-in-law would be there to help them in every way. The demise of their son is fully neglected and thus, he is not given the respect that he deserved.
The novella is written in a simple and lucid language but there are several inner meanings behind the veil of simplicity which the readers need to unravel. Though it might seem to be a strange story at the beginning, the real essence of it can be felt soon. Even the names of the characters are symbolic, for instance, Gregor Samsa…the name Samsa is a cryptogram for Kafka and also there is a phonetic contraction of the Czech word “sam” meaning alone and “jsem” meaning I am, hence it means “I am alone” which is a cry of the inner pain. The readers will enjoy a lot while revealing the original flavour of the story and its themes. Though a deep sense of melancholy will be felt after reading this work, it is worth reading to make oneself aware of several things.
Life plays absurd games with us, sometimes it makes us feel depressed and alienated and we suffer from existential crisis, which must be taken care of at the earliest. Family is said to be one’s place of security but that family of our own can turn into our biggest enemy one day and push us to the darkest corner from where we can never come out. Kafka has deconstructed the entire system of family and father-figure in his work, which is definitely worth appreciating!