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The Use Of Metaphors In Kafka’s Metamorphosis

In two ways, change is brought about in The Metamorphosis. The first is by allowing time and circumstances determine ones decisions. The next way is by using courage and conviction to make ones own decisions. Kafka brings about change with the use of metaphors in The Metamorphosis. The hidden metaphors are there if one can recognize and understand them. Kafkas crafty use of metaphors throughout his story includes many uses of different items. Finding the hidden and direct metaphors gives one a sense of adventure and challenge.

The transformation of Gregor into a giant vermin is a very apparent metaphor, which can be thought of in more than one way. One may be inclined to associate this man turned bug as a grotesque display representing one of the lowest forms of life. Gregors manager and family are repulsed by his unexplainable physical appearance. Stunned, the manager retreats out of the house in horror, the mother falls to the floor in grief and the father, in an attempt to get Gregor out of sight, forces him into the doorway of his room.

Gregors beetle body is too large for the doorway and he finds himself stuck and unable to move, when from behind his father gave him a hard shove, which was truly his salvation, and bleeding profusely, [Gregor] flew far into his room (Kafka 2314). Another way one might define the metaphor of this transformation is looking at Gregors disassociation with the human world. A beetle cannot communicate in language; therefore there is no way for Gregor to explain his predicament to anyone.

When he tried to explain to his manager why he wasnt at work on time, the manager asked, Did you understand a word? and then he stated, That was the voice of an animal (Kafka 2309). Without language and with a hideous appearance, Gregor, in his new state is cut off from communication with the outside world and with his family. One should assess that Kafka is using this metaphor with a dual purpose in mind. The family assumes Gregor has done something horrible that they are not aware of to cause his punishment of transformation.

To add injury to insult, Gregors father has no tolerance for his appearance and is not only cruel verbally, but also physically. On one occasion, He [the father] had filled his pockets from the fruit bowl on the buffet and was now pitching one apple after another (Kafka 2327). Gregor is injured by one of the apples that embed itself in his back racking him with unbelievable pain (2327). Kafka certainly uses the apple as a metaphor for original sin and the pain of the punishment imposed by God on Adam and Eve.

Throughout Kafkas strange and disturbing story are two more metaphors that are repeatedly used: food and newspapers. Kafkas reference to food and newspapers serve as a metaphor for the need for sustenance. Sustenance is apparently something that the whole family is in need of. Gregor describes the dining room table as having The breakfast dishes 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 (2310-11).

The sister brings Gregor his food, or sustenance, and to find out what he might like, she brought him a wide assortment of things, all spread out on an old newspaper (2316). The food is significant in such that they both provide one with some sort of sustenance. The newspaper provides one with news of the outside world. This in turn educates and fills the void one might feel by being cut off from the world. The food, of course, fills the belly and is literally sustenance for physical requirements to remain alive.

When one thinks about it, the same could be said of newspapers. By providing the mind with the information and text, one is also fulfilling a physical need. This is the need to know what is going on outside of ones own realm and therefore fulfilling a physical need for human contact. Kafkas story reflects the tragic metamorphosis of a seemingly everyday person, who, without the ability to speak and be understood is shut off from not only the world, but his family as well. He longs for nurturing, sustenance and approval.

But in the end, the one he was the closest to, his sister turns against him. She tells her mother and father, You must just try to get rid of the idea that this is Gregor If it were Gregor, he would have realized long ago that human beings cant live with such a creature and he would have gone away of his own free will (2337). This instills in the reader that Kafkas metaphor of the bug would make anyone disassociate him or herself from the human race. Kafkas creative and direct use of metaphors makes the literal word of his story a challenge for the reader.

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