Kafka And The Metamorphosis Essay, Research Paper
The Metamorphosis EssayAccording to Sigmund Freud, the Oedipal Stage is a necessary and required step in a boy s life, in order for him to develop into a normal functioning individual. During the Oedipal Stage, the boy first falls in love with his mother, and becomes jealous of his father. He wants his mother all to himself. Although the boy fears his father and therefore does not act in an assertive manner, he still views his father as a competitor. Later on, the boy, attempting to identify with his father, shows off his manhood. The father now becomes a role model for his son. The boy eventually allows himself to give up his overpowering love for his mother so that he, along with his mother and father, can function in a typical manner as one family. If this process goes correctly, the boy learns the proper way to have relationships, as well as deal with them. He also learns that there is the possibility of loving someone as well as being angry with that person simultaneously. Numerous critics argue that the key to understanding Franz Kafka lies in the relationship that he had with his parents. Due to his childhood experiences, he developed feelings of fear towards his father, feelings of inferiority, and an inability to love and be loved. These issues are revealed in Kafka s puzzling novel, The Metamorphosis. Franz Kafka reveals how a relationship between a father and a son, which is supposed to be a loving and caring one, can sometimes be harsh and fearful. This kind of relationship, which Kafka had with his own father, is also portrayed through the relationship between Gregor Samsa and his father in the novel, The Metamorphosis. ( I don t think you need to repeat the name of the novel)From the very beginning of the text, Kafka hints at the harshness and hostility of Mr. Samsa: …And already his father was knocking on one side of the doors, feebly but with his fist (6). This scene occurs after Gregor s transformation into a bug, but no one has acknowledged his transformation yet. Gregor s father s sole concern is that Gregor should not be late to work. Gregor s father does not bother to ask him if something is bothering him, for his only worry is that Gregor is missing work: So can the manager come in now asked his father, impatient, and knocked on the door again (11). One would assume that if Gregor s father were so interested in Gregor s work, than of course Gregor himself would be just as concerned with his career. Gregor, however, does not enjoy the profits from his work. Instead, he uses the money to support his family: The money Gregor had brought home every month he had kept only a few dollars for himself (28). Due to Gregor s fear, he is living to serve the needs of his father rather than taking care of his own. Similarly, in Kafka s own life, he was torn between spending his time writing, which gave him pleasure, or working in his father s factory, which was something that he despised. He chose to satisfy his parents by working in the factory. In the novel, not only did Gregor s father behave in a frightful way, but also in a hostile manner. Mr. Samsa s hostility is unveiled when Gregor s transformation is exposed. He deals with this hostility by means of abuse: With a hostile expression his father clenched his fist, as if to drive Gregor back to his room, then looked uncertainly around the living room, shielded his eyes with his hands, and sobbed with heaves of his powerful chest (15). Clearly, Gregor s father had difficulty controlling and dealing with his anger. The only way to express his anger was by means of abuse: He had filled his pockets from the fruit bowl on the buffet and was now pitching one apple after another, for the time being without taking good aim. One apple, thrown weakly, grazed Gregor s back and slid off harmlessly. But the very next one that came flying after it literally forced its way onto Gregor s back; Gregor tried to drag himself away, as if the startling, unbelievable pain might disappear with a change of place; but he felt nailed to the spot and stretched out his body in a complete confusion of all senses (39). Mr. Samsa s hostility has turned into hatred. The physical and emotional pain that Gregor feels from the apple, scars him for life. So too, in Kafka s own life, his father s actions due to his hostility haunted him throughout his entire life. He recalls one incident when his father threw him out of his house, locking him outside all night. He was alone, and only in his pajamas, just because he asked for water late at night. It is these incidents from Kafka s childhood that remained in his memory forever. Resultantly, he never passed the stage from going to fearing his father to loving and admiring him. This defect remained with Kafka and Gregor for the rest of their lives. Not only did Kafka fear his father, he also felt a sense of worthlessness due to his upbringing. During Kafka s lifetime, he exhibited a full range of serious neurotic symptoms such as hypochondria, obsessions, phobias, and depression. Kafka used his talent of writing to explore his inner self. Therefore, in The Metamorphosis, Kafka causes Gregor to transform into a bug in order to characterize his sense of worthlessness before his monstrous father. Kafka characterized his father as being a power hungry, controlling, domineering animal. Mr. Samsa, in the Metamorphosis, fits this description: The breakfast dishes were laid out lavishly on the table, since for his father breakfast was the most important meal of the day, which he would prolong for hours while reading various newspapers (15). This suggests that although the father(take out the word truly) did not work, and he therefore was not the man of the house , he attempted to grasp this reputation as being the ultimate superior of the house. This caused Gregor to feel powerless: His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, were waving helplessly before his eyes (3). This transformation displayed Gregor s inner feelings in a physical manner. This transformation (look in the thesarus for another word for transformation)repulsed Mr. Samsa, and as a result he began to wish that his own son were dead. It is ultimately Gregor s father s supposition that Gregor is unfit to live, which causes Gregor to die: Then, without his consent, his head sank down to the floor, and from his nostrils streamed his last weak breath (54). The will of Gregor s father has become a reality. This feeling of inferiority taunted Kafka throughout his life.(take out the words as well) Similar to Mr. Samsa, Kafka s father continuously reminded Kafka that the only reason Kafka was living was due to his father s altruism. Kafka s father took upon himself the role of G-d. He constantly reminded Kafka that just as he brought Gregor into this world, so too he could take him out (take out the words of it). His father deprived Kafka of any happiness, for it was his only way of dealing with his own repressed anger. The effects on Kafka were disastrous. The feeling that he did not deserve to live life itself deprived Kafka from coming to terms with the psychological trauma he endured.
Not only did Kafka s father prevent him from his own love, (take out the word but) he took it upon himself to insult the people Kafka attempted to form a relationship with by scaring them away. As a result of receiving no love, he was incapable of giving love to others. Kafka revealed how his mother would always side with his father. Consequently, Kafka had no one to turn to for emotional support. He viewed his mother as unattainable, for she was overly devoted to her dominating husband. This clearly exposes Kafka s Oedipal desires. At the same time that Kafka desired his mother, he possessed feelings of hostility towards his father. In The Metamorphosis, Kafka portrays Mrs. Samsa as a woman who always sides with her husband, much like Kafka s own mother. The reader does not get an individualistic impression of her. Kafka s own underlying desires towards his mother are symbolized in Gregor s view of his mother: …Saw his mother run up to his father and on the way her unfastened petticoats slide to the floor one by one; and saw as, stumbling over the skirts, she forced herself onto his father, and embracing him, in complete union with him but now Gregor s sight went dim her hands clasping his father s neck, begged for Gregor s life (39). Due to the oedipal complex, one may assume that Gregor s sight went dim due to the realization that his father has succeeded in the battle over his mother, and Gregor would not be able to fulfill his sexual desires with his mother. This scene represents the defect in Kafka s own nurturing, for he never transferred properly from loving his mother and viewing his father as a rival, to loving his father. He was left feeling unloved by both his parents. Consequently, throughout Kafka s life, he formed few relationships with others, and died a lonely and depressed individual. After connecting Kafka s own life with The Metamorphosis, the harmful effects that can result from a child s upbringing are clearly displayed. Kafka proves that a child is brought up from the start, will effect the child for the rest of his life.(this sentence doesn t make sense) Feelings of fear, inferiority, and the incapability of love are only some of the pain that Kafka was forced to undergo. Kafka s psychological defects caused him to be tied to his parents throughout his life, as much as he wanted to escape from them. Furthermore, he is buried in the same grave as them. Although Kafka never arrived at a resolution within himself, he did succeed in using his psychological tortures for means of creating some of the greatest fiction of the twentieth century.