Transforming Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis

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Callie Gray Lybarger-Monson English M01B February 21, 2017 In Support of “Transforming Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’” In Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella “The Metamorphosis,” Kafka recounts the transformation of a man into an insect, an idea that has been subject to a multitude of interpretations and almost constant analysis. Nina Pelikan Straus, Professor of Literature at Purchase College, State University of New York, makes a strong argument for the validity of a gender based approach to the analysis of Kafka’s work in her 1989 article, “Transforming Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis.’” While criticism of Kafka’s work is plentiful, it was not until the 1980’s that feminist theories entered the expository debate. Given that Franz Kafka created a story…show more content…
A gender based analysis of the work operates along with other analyses to provide a wider understanding of the message Kafka intended to convey. The traditional psychoanalytic, Marxist and biographical interpretations of the text work in conjunction with the gender approach when analyzing Kafka’s writing. The gender focus is convincing because both Gregor and Grete Samsa undergo physical and mental changes, both experience the modification of their socially defined roles, and Kafka’s personal struggle with his self-image and women are reflected in the narrative. Straus’ reliable gender role examination of “Metamorphosis” expands on the traditional psychoanalytic commentary by exploring the relationship between the physical and mental changes that consume Gregor Samsa and simultaneously mobilize his sister, Grete. Customary psychoanalytic views of Kafka’s work interpret the transformation as an outward demonstration of Gregor’s internal state. With that being true, Straus places a wider scope on the corresponding change that encompasses Grete and her outward manifestation of her own inner attitude. As Gregor grows physically weaker with the “deterioration of his condition” (Kafka 288),…show more content…
Kafka lived most of his life with his parents and never married. He had a distant mother and domineering father who had a profound effect on his romantic relationships and writing. Kafka questioned the adequacy of his own body and mind. The author poured all the questioning thoughts and visions he had about himself into the consciousness of Gregor Samsa, and imagined the remedy to the problems to be found in a woman, Grete. Kafka envisions that his “…body is too long for its weakness…” and imposes his own image on his counterpart Gregor, who’s “…left side felt as if it were one long, painfully tightening scar…” (Kafka 278). Kafka chooses Grete as the one Gregor looks to to solve his problem when the office manager comes to inquire about his absence from work. In his weakness, Gregor cries “If only his sister were here−she was perceptive…” (Kafka 276). Additionally, Kafka considered a woman to be a source of energy and nourishment. He thought he had “…no fat whatsoever for creating a beneficial warmth, for maintaining an inner fire, no fat from which the mind could someday nourish itself beyond its daily need… (Straus 660). He believed that his failings and emptiness would only be resolved by a woman and “the fat and warmth that a woman’s body is imagined to provide”
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