Once dismissed as strictly for geeks and children, graphic novels (basically any kind of book-length comic) have found new acceptance as a legitimate segment of the publishing industry.
Kafka's metamorphosisA comparison between the novel and Franz Kafka's life“Metamorphosis” is the grotesque tale of Gregor Samsa, who at the start of the novel turns into a cockroach and is treated as a monster by his own family. It is filled with grotesque imagery and satire. However, “Metamorphosis” must not only be viewed as a horrific tale of a man who had turned into a bug. It is also a good autobiographical account of Franz Kafka’s life, based on evaluating the novel in terms of the author’s choice of words, literary devices, narrative style, imagery, and symbolism.
“Metamorphosis” uses simple words that may be interpreted in many ways. This illustrates the very purpose of Kafka for turning Gregor Samsa into a bug, which is to elicit different reactions from different people. These simple words may be interpreted differently by every reader. In a way, this characterizes Kafka’s character. His true passion was to become a writer but he was forced to become a lawyer by his father. Both professions deal with words, but a lawyer usually uses words which cannot be interpreted in any other way. A lawyer’s words are precise and clean-cut. A writer’s words on the other hand are usually at the mercy of a reader’s interpretation. The words may be read and understood in different ways. Because Kafka used simple words that may be interpreted in many ways, it shows his reluctance to take up law instead of writing.
The primary literary device used by Kafka in the novel is satire. Satire is a form of literature which directly attacks a party by mimicking some of the aspects of that party that the author does not agree with. In “Metamorphosis”, Kafka attacks his family, his father in particular, by portraying them as people who did not care about Gregor’s wellbeing. He also attacks the concept of “being loved and treasured just because you’re in a family”. The family used to depend on Gregor, but when Gregor became a bug, they just cast him aside in disgust. Kafka views his own family as something like a leech which would just throw him away if he could not benefit them anymore, just like what was shown in the novel.
When Gregor had turned into a cockroach, he was shunned and confined to his room. However, it is during this time when he begins to realize the importance of belonging and affection. It is an unfortunate thing however that he cannot express his epiphany to his own family because of their disgust of his new form, and he also dies alone. Kafka does not like being tied down or attached to a singular group. He uses Gregor’s fate in order to show the reader how he views attachment, utterly pointless.
Another literary device present in the novel is irony. The use of irony in the novel is also used to mock the concept of belonging to a group or association. In the story, Gregor would always stare out of the slightly opened door of his room to watch his family, but he can’t go out for fear of frightening them, and the family members do not want to look at him as well. Another irony in the story is the fact that it was always stated that there was a hospital near the Samsas’ apartment, yet there was no mention of the family members going there to ask someone to help Gregor.
There is also a bit of foreshadowing in the novel. It was stated that Gregor would always stare out the window and see the shape of the hospital clearly, but as time passed by, the shapes began to blur. This detail hints us of the fact that Gregor’s health is detoriating and foreshadows his death. The rotten apple stuck to his back and his slow movements also foreshadow his death. This foreshadowing of dying alone also holds true for Kafka for he died alone in pain due to tuberculosis.
Kafka’s writing style is described as “Kafkaesque”, distorting reality by injecting fantastical elements in the empty spaces that hang about in reality. In a way, this writing style tells us something about Kafka’s life. He sees that there is something lacking in reality so he fills it with fantastical elements that exist only within his mind. But he also holds a bitterness for life so he only injects ugly elements that serve to make the character’s plight and despair all the more apparent.
The novel uses a third-person limited point of view. Gregor’s thoughts and feelings are shown in the text, but not those of the other characters. This was done in order to convey the plight of Gregor and Kafka. It gives the readers the motivation of Gregor for doing certain things, but not the motivation of the other characters. This narrative style also helps the author show how unjustly he was treated by his own family. It shows how he was unable to convey his own wishes to his own family.
Concerning the imagery in the novel, while there are also beautiful things mentioned in the story, there is much emphasis on the grotesque and the perverted. Kafka is almost in awe of this ugliness that exists within the story, as shown in his focus on this aspect. Kafka had grown up in a Jewish ghetto in Czechoslovakia, where things were filthy and deformed. This focus on the ugliness of things must have stemmed from the fact that Kafka had grown up in a place filled with ugly things. It may also be said that there is emphasis on the ugliness of things because Kafka himself realized the ugliness of life. All throughout his life, pain and suffering followed him everywhere.
There are many symbols used in the novel. The first one is the animal that Gregor turned into, a cockroach. Traditionally, the cockroach is seen as something to be disgusted with because it is filthy. However, in the novel, the cockroach is used as a symbol for the author, Franz Kafka. He was despised even if he did everything that he could, and in the end died alone, just like how Gregor’s fate went. The cockroach may also be used as a Christ symbol because it was punished and killed so that the family would have a brighter future. It is also because the cockroach was buried by the charwoman instead of the family; just like how a foreigner was the one who buried Christ instead of the Jews. Gregor may also be considered as a symbolism of Kafka. Gregor’s father symbolizes Kafka’s own father, a portly and overbearing man who demanded total obedience. Gregor’s rocky relationship with his father is also similar to Kafka’s relationship with his own father. Another symbol in the novel is the slightly opened door. It symbolizes Kafka’s desire to improve do what he wants, but may not do so because of his father’s commands.
In conclusion, the novel, “Metamorphosis”, is an autobiographical account of the author’s life because many similarities can be derived from Gregor and Kafka’s life, based on the author’s choice of words, literary devices, narrative style, imagery, and symbolism.