The author’s insight into
the lives of Jews living in Prague in Metamorphosis presents us with
challenging tasks of Jews adapting to Western culture, whilst making them
vulnerable to assimilation. The lack of an established place due to Kafka’s
double minority status of Jewish, Czech and German roots contributed to his
struggle to communicate with others and his lack of an established place in
society profoundly affected with his writing. My understanding of Kafka’s use
of analytical and disinterested tone throughout Metamorphosis is that his inner
havoc to define himself combined with a disconnection from his community, allows
him to write in this fashion. In relation to literary modernism, Kafka
expresses alienation and uncertainty of life in a rapidly changing world by
suggesting that Gregor has no distinct culture and is alienated from humanity.
In a way, Metamorphosis allows for Kafka’s inability to express his feelings of
powerlessness and detachment from community.
My understanding of
feminism in Metamorphosis is reflected through Kafka’s personal life with
women. Kafka wrote many letters to women, writing of his own weaknesses, whilst
seeking strength from his receivers. His relationship with women is seemingly
close to Gregor’s debilitating condition and the need for female caregivers.
Both Kafka’s and Gregor’s actions imply their feeling of inadequacy in their
masculinity and seek to live as women, which is seen through Gregor’s
transformation from animus, being the only earning member of the family, to
anima, living as passive and feminine.
Kafka’s use of literary
modernism is evidenced in Metamorphosis by his unusual style of writing, which
was brought about during the time of literary modernism. The early 19th
century saw a movement where literature and art broke with realist movements, representing
art and literature as reality, whereby subconscious or spiritual ideas were
lacking. At the beginning of Metamorphosis, readers know of no reality before
Gregor’s transformation, preluding any concept of a possible escape from this
reality other than within the subconscious mind of Gregor himself. This
modernist convention emphasises the loss of the real and the paradigm shift
towards rejection and meta-narratives.
Through our group
discussion, surrounding contextual topics and the effects of Kafka’s milieu
through his writing, I realised his writing was greatly influenced by the world
he lived in and events that occurred throughout his life.