Kafka uses symbolism in his short story, Metamorphosis. He uses this technique to make the reader try and figure out what was going on in his head. He brought out in this story many things about his life, including his father/family, love life, and his future. He used metaphors to show his love for people in his life. This story is autobiographical about the forces that control Franz Kafka’s life. In this paper I will explain how Kafka relates his life to the readers through the story in Metamorphosis.
Franz Kafka had trouble at home with his father. His father wanted him to become a lawyer, but Franz did not want to be a lawyer, he wanted to be a writer. He went to law school against his will, because his father wanted him to go there. He then took a high paying position with the government of Czechoslovakia in an insurance post. In the story, Gregor’s father had very little respect for him, and Gregor had to work to pay off the family debts. That is an example of Gregor’s father’s control over his life and Kafka’s situation was similar.
He eventually was forced to become a lawyer, whereas what Kafka wanted was a literary degree. Franz Kafka made his character, Gregor, transform into an insect in the story. Nobody wants to associate themselves with an insect, which is a lowly creature, a pest, or nuisance. This symbolizes Kafka’s depression and his poor self image. Since his family treats the insect like an outcast, that must be how Franz felt about the treatment that his own family gave him. It showed the control that his father put on him. He was not allowed to leave his room.
Gregor’s parents were so afraid to take him out of the house, because he was the family secret, and they thought that would bring shame and ruin the family. Gregor’s becoming an insect symbolizes the changes in Kafka’s life from being a slave to his father and doing everything that his father wanted him to do (for instance being a lawyer) to doing nothing at all. Gregor’s death symbolized that Kafka had failed to communicate with his family. They thought of him as an insect, and he too thought that he was an insect, because he was looking at himself through their eyes.
Through his family’s eyes they saw Gregor as an insect. He wished that they could love him for his true self, even though he was in the form of an insect. If Gregor was able to be accepted as a insect, by his family then maybe he would have been able to metamorphosis back into a human. They could not except him he was different than them and people are afraid of change and someone who is different. Same thing with Franz, writers were unknown to the Kafka family in a way almost bug like or alien to them. They could not handle the change.
Gregor could not be accepted or understood by the ones that need to understand him most. He died from a lack of love and respect from his family, the ones whom he needed love from the most. Franz was hurt from being considered an outsider by his family. Both Franz and Gregor both did not get the love or a understanding from their fathers that they needed. They never had any love or understanding from their arrogant fathers. Kafka had many other things in his life besides his constant arguments and battles with his father.
He loved for Frulein F. B. (Felice). Though they never married because Kafka believed that he was not suited for marriage, and that Felice was to ordinary, and she made demands of him that he could not meet. In the story, the sister Grete represents Frulein F. B. When Gregor’s sister, Grete played the violin, Gregor wanted to walk up to her and grab her and take her off to his room, and she would just agree with him and follow his lead and go off to his room with him. There she could play for him and him only.
The reality is that when Gregor got close to her and she saw him, she screamed and yelled at him and wished that her family would have gotten rid of him long ago. Kafka and Felice were in love, but the idea of being a husband or father seemed like punishment, and not a blessing. After Gregor dies, at the end of the story, his parents notice that his sister has grown up into a beautiful woman and they feel that it is time for her to get married. This means that they used Gregor as the pawn who went out and supported them. Now that his sister is grown up they can force her into marrying a rich man.
Then they would be well off for a long time to come. They can now control the daughter like they did Gregor. Grete’s new husband can support the whole family. Once she is married, she too will then become a pawn, a victim of her parents control. The main theme of the story is the effect of other’s control on a person such as his relationship with his father, and how his father for controlled his life. He realized that he was his own person when he could escape from his father’s control, even if the only escape was death.