’s Critique Of Hans Kafka’s The Essay, Research Paper
Wilhelm Emrich has presented an unimaginative and misleading critical essay ofFranz Kafka s The Metamorphosis. Emrich s failure to make any daring insights providesmuch protection against any real opposition, but also serves to evince his occasionalblunders all the more. The apparent focus of Emrich s essay is the beetle. Emrichcomments on various scenes involving Gregor the bug, but never sticks his neck out orattempts to express any views that may spark any controversy. However, the essay is notentirely without merit. For example, Emrich confirms that determining an exact physicaldescription of the bug is unnecessary. The critic also points out just how steeped in denialGregor actually is. Both of the preceding critiques are valid and helpful to a reader. Butin addition to Emrich s tenable arguments, he also conveys a few ideas that are whollywithout credence. An example of such a specious critique is Emrich s insistence that thestory is a dream. Holistically though, Emrich s critical essay is accurate but lacking of anyinsight. Emrich makes it quite clear that determining the exact size and physicality ofGregor is an impossible and pointless task. Emrich writes, It would be meaningless tointerpret Samsa the beetle as a real beetle (127). The reason it is so necessary for Emrichto point this out is the fact that Kafka seems so intent on proving just the opposite. In thevery first paragraph Kafka describes his bug as having a vaulted brown belly… to whosedome the [bed]cover, about to slide off completely, could barely cling (1) But just twelvepages later Kafka has Gregor sliding off a polished chest of drawers and then clinging toa chair with his little (13) legs. So the reader s first description of the bug is one thatportrays the bug as being larger than a bed. However, not even twenty pages go by beforethe bug is described as being smaller than both a dresser and a chair. Kafka mentionsother details of the bug s appearance, but such details are trivial. Emrich is well awarethat Kafka could have chosen any grotesque beast for his tale, for the beast s only purposeis to exemplify the split between Gregor s self-perception and the reality he faces- the cleavage between imagining and being. (131) Another valid point Emrich makes(no matter how void of creativity it may be), is
how this story s hero is living in consummate denial. Gregor never fully accepts histransformation until just before his death. Emrich s statement that Samsa can look uponthe… metamorphosis only as a negative phenomenon that disturbs his daily workroutine (119) could not be more accurate. When Gregor initially discovers histransformation his first thoughts include his job, his itchy stomach, and the train schedule. He even maintains the presence of mind to wonder, Could it be possible that thealarm[clock] hadn t gone off? (4) A curious fact is how, at this point in the story, Gregornever admits that he has become a monster. Instead he reacts the same way he wouldreact to a minor inconvenience. Kafka even explains that Gregor intended to open thedoor… [and] be at the station by eight o clock (12) Only a man drowning in denialcould possibly consider going on with his day even after he had become a giant beetle. Emrich s essay is well-supported, but it does contain one frequently occurringcuriosity. Time and time again, Emrich bases his arguments on the so-called fact thatGregor is in a dream. Earlier I labeled this argument specious because while there is noevidence to negate it, there also exists none to confirm it. Emrich states that In this storythe metamorphosis takes place, likewise, in a dream (119). Such an observation mayappear obvious to Emrich, but that does not excuse the critic from presenting anyexamples to substantiate his claim. Far too much emphasis is placed on Emrich s claimthat The Metamorphosis is the story of a dream for Emrich to neglect ever supporting hisconviction. Wilhelm Emrich s critique of Franz Kafka s The Metamorphosis displays noevidence of any deep understanding of the work. Emrich is consistently accurate, butrarely insightful. No one could dispute his claims that Gregor is living in denial, or thatthe physicality of the bug is of little importance, but who couldn t reach such a conclusionon their own? Emrich also displayed a bit of sophistry when he attempted to pass off theidea that The Metamorphosis is the story of a dream. No where in his essay does he offerany details to support his claim. What the reader is left with is a timid essay containingvague and general observations.