29 October 2007

The Metamorphosis a review – by Franz Kafka.

My interpretation of kafka's The Metamorphosis !

"Some books are like an axe which cut the frozen exterior of human emotions, such are the books of Kafka" – this was the first description I read about Franz Kafka. Naturally I became curious and bought a copy of his book The Metamorphosis. The word metamorphosis actually means “a complete change of physical form or substance especially as by magic or witchcraft”, and thus in short explains the entire story of the book.

The opening line of the book is like the climax and this kind of story writing is said to be Aristotelian. It begins with what sounds like the climax and then winds down actually. Such other example was the love story – by Erich Segal, in which in the beginning he describes the death of the heroine, the fact that in spite of this the book is gripping enough is another matter.

Gregor samsa, who is the protagonist wakes one morning to find that he has been transformed into a vermin, and is neither able to get up from his bed nor able to reply back to his parents when they ask him about when he would be going for work. Gregor is as a traveling salesman and works at odd hours and spends most of his time traveling and changing trains, which has taken a toll on his health.
Initially he thinks that the transformation is only an illusion and that it will be gone when he wakes up. But unfortunately it is real and when he steps out of his room ends up terrifying his parents and his manager. His parents and his sister though are terrified, feed him and clean his room. Gradually they fall into financial difficulties as Gregor was the sole bread winner. They rent their apartments and take up jobs. All this takes a toll on their patience and even Gregor’s sister becomes impatient, and one day she breaks up and says that it would be good for them if they get rid of him or if he left them of his free will. Gregor overhears this and slowly starves himself to death.

There have been many interpretation of this story, and it is rated as one the most influential and intriguing stories of this century.

My take on the story is:

There is a possibility that Gregor is still a human and that he became a vermin is only his illusion.
Probably his incessant traveling has taken a toll on his mental and physical strength.
The story depicts how Gregor’s father admitted defeat after his failed business and how he still is capable of earning which he does after Gregor’s transformation.
It shows how the family grows weary and irritable with Gregor even though they loved him, his sister who took care of him with the belief that he will be alright soon, feels exhausted at all the never ending troubles. The way she cries out saying if he was Gregor he would have left them of their own.

It’s also a reflection of the shame and guilt of a person who was supposed to be the bread winner and how it affects the family and how he becomes a burden on them.
But he does not answer the question of what someone in Gregor’s position should do. It’s fault of neither but all are suffering, and whether death is the only solution for such a problem.
The story ends sadly but with a relief to the family. It could be the story of some one who is the sole bread winner of the family, but meets with an accident and is incapable of earning anymore.

It could be the story about how a young man takes up all the responsibilities of the family, but is shattered mentally and physically while his father though still capable of sharing the burden shuns the responsibilities.

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