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What are the examples of existentialism in The Metamorphosis?

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The Metamorphosis, among many of Kafka’s works, includes elements of existentialism. This literary movement was popular among the 19th European philosophers. It started to gain followers at the dawn of the 20th century. The social anxieties among populations all over the world rose.

Kafka included many elements of it in his most famous work, The Metamorphosis. The central one is the idea of a meaningless world. In the novella, the main character wakes up to find out that he became an insect. This phenomenon is impossible in real life – the whole story is an example of absurdity.

Gregor’s transformation is likely a reflection of Kafka’s own troubled life. The author had an unhealthy relationship with his father who pushed his son to pursue a business career. It made him think that he did not belong in society. The first chapter is devoted to Gregor’s attempts to get out of his bed. His inability to get up connects with his existential angst. A sense of resentment towards the selfless life he lives is present.

When Gregor reaches the door, his conversation with the clerk and family is comical. A single absence caused so much turmoil that everyone came knocking at his bedroom to demand an answer. This scene is an example of absurdity in the book that correlates with the idea of existentialism. Kafka had many laughs when he was writing this part.

Another example of existentialism is Gregor’s role as a money bag for his family. He alone was working to provide for his kin, none of whom had a job.

Over the years, after Mr. Samsa’s failed business, the family grew accustomed to their relative comfort and unemployment. As a result, they started taking Gregor’s efforts and existence for granted. After his change, all members had to find a job, including Mr. Samsa. He became so powerful again that he throws an apple at his son when the vermin leaves his room. He is trying to defend his family from the evil monster.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka has many existential themes. The author himself was following existentialist philosophy. Kafka included a lot of absurdity and humor into his work to show how meaningless this world can be. In the story, black comedy plays with the idea of helpless victims of fate.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "What are the examples of existentialism in The Metamorphosis?" January 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-are-the-examples-of-existentialism-in-the-metamorphosis/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'What are the examples of existentialism in The Metamorphosis'. 29 January.

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