?The way he lived is what he wrote?
?The tremendous world I have inside my head. But how free myself and free it without being torn to pieces. And a thousand times rather be torn to pieces than retain it in me or bury it. That, indeed, is why I am here, that is quite clear to me.”
Reading such an imaginative author can make you think about the different reasons this author expresses himself in the way he does in his writings. In the above quote we can see clearly Kafka was troubled by the way he grew up and the way he was treated by his parents. He says he has a tremendous world inside his head, meaning all the thoughts of his childhood. He also tells us it is better to be ?torn to pieces? and get it out of his head, than to die with that thought in his head. This is how ?Metamorphosis? came alive. Franz Kafka?s ?Metamorphosis? can be given such a deep thought, reasoning and understanding because of the way this man lived his childhood and young age. It is more than a literary work. It is a representation of the inner fears the author has in a not so tragical as to be called tormented, but traumatic childhood. Kafka disguises himself in the character Gregor Samsa, and makes the reader aware that even though he has no fault in what has happenned, his family, specifically his father, who is the one who represents and makes him live a traumatic childhood, makes his life a living hell. The reader can find out about this, once it is known that Mr. Samsa wants to ?knock Gregor back into his room? . Mr. Samsa, just as Hermann Kafka, represents the bad giant, the man whose violence overpowers any kind of sympathy he might have for his unfortunate son. Even though Hermann Kafka never physically abused his son, he severly punished him at times and this is why young Kafka was so afraid of his ?huge father?, as he called him (http://www.levity.com/corduroy/kafka.htm).
There is an obvious bad attitude the reader can find in Gregor?s father towards Gregor. There is also a comparison to Kafka?s childhood and relation with his father and mother as to find it a way of escaping his fears. But, the reader can find another person in ?Metamorphosis? who played an important role in Kafka?s life. This person is his sister, and she played a positive role. In Kafka?s childhood, his mother did not play an important role in raising him (as we will see later). This is why when his three sisters were born, he felt no rivalry towards them, but felt he had companions to talk to (http://www.levity.com/corduroy/kafka.htm). This is represented in ?Metamorphosis? in Gregor?s younger sister, Grete. This young lady is the one who takes care of Gregor, even though he is a bug. This action of caring about his brother, as we saw in the story, fades in time when she gets tired of taking care of that repulsive thing and tells her parents it is time to get ?rid of it?. Even though the reader can see Grete takes care of her brother, it is also clear in Kafka?s life there is some resentment towards him from his sisters. That is why, as the story progresses, it is informed to the reader that when Gregor (the bug) gets close to his sister to listen to her playing the violin, she gets scared and rejects him. This is a poor attitude towards his brother since as we saw in the story he was the one who payed for all her violin classes.
As said before, Kafka?s mother did not play an important role in his life. It is clearly shown to the reader, that as in Kafka?s life, Gregor?s mother does not play an important part in his ?Metamorphosis?. This is due to the fact that Julie Kafka is a woman devoted to the care of her husband. This is to the extent that she does everything he wants, and always takes his side, leaving young Kafka with no mother aid. In ?Metamorphosis? this is clearly portrayed to us when Gregor shows himself to his family as a bug, and when his father wants to make him go back in to his room, his mother makes no intent in helping him. Instead, she is in favor of doing such a thing.
Although Gregor?s mother is portrayed as a character with no importance, the reader can see Kafka portrays finally a good aspect of his mother. Maybe this is because he never had her intense care and was raised by servants, and he wanted to write something good that never really happened. In other way, Kafka lets his imagination fly, and idealizes himself as having a good, caring mother to talk about. The good aspect portrayed to the reader is the way Gregor?s mother ?begs for her son?s life? in some part of the story and also refuses to take Gregor?s furniture away from the room because she is confident that her son will some day, become human again.
Throughout the course of the story, many aspects can make the reader think of all the social aspects also involved in the writing of ?Metamorphosis?. These social aspects are seen as the normal standard of those days and can be understood now, but not accepted in our days.
The most important one of those aspects is the incredible submission Gregor mother has toward her husband. Not only in the story, but also in actual life, Julie Kafka was always into what her husband wanted, and never really had a chance to say what she wanted or do what she wanted to do. This is something in our days has changed, since women now have the opportunity to better there education, go out for jobs, as well as take care of there houses and family. That is a very important way of evolution in our days, since it is very important for men to have division of work and equality in all ways.
Honig, Edwin. Dark Conceit: The Making of Allegory
New York: Schoken Books, 1966.
Kafka, Franz. The Diaries of Franz Kafka Ed. Max Brod
New York: Schoken Books, 1949.
Spann, Memo. Franz Kafka Gen. Ed. Sylvia E. Bowman, Indiana University
Ed. Ulrich Weisslein, Indiana University
Boston, Mass, USA: Twayne Publishers.
John E. Novak (1992) Franz Kafka
Available HTTP: http://www.litstudies.com/novakj/kafka.html