Gregor Samsa: A Marxist Spokesman
A Marxist Spokesman
Franz Kafka's “The Metamorphosis” has elements throughout its construction that illuminate the strife of man. Kafka gives his reader a world that is particularly bleak. If one superimposes a Marxist lens over the characterization and circumstances of Gregor Samsa, there is an obvious sympathy and critical analysis of the worker, and ultimately all people, with an emphasis on the meek. More specifically, there are particular moments throughout the text that harken to the plight of the people in a regime dominated world where there is clear issue that Kafka is exposing, through the suffering of Gregor Samsa.
The title of the piece itself has many implications in relation to the worker. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Metamorphosis as “The action or process of changing in form, shape, or substance; esp. transformation by supernatural means (Oxford, Metamorphosis).” This automatically causes the reader to think about what the story will be about, instantly determining that there will be some significant change within. What actually happens in Kafka's “The Metamorphosis” is a physical transformation where Gregor Samsa become a monstrous bug.
But to explore this image deeper is critical to gather the larger scope of Kafka's piece. Gregor is the son in a family where he is the sole supporter, so he is constantly working to provide for his father, mother, and sister. His family does not appreciate him. He is completely over-looked at work, and taken for granted, being that his job is not as solidified as he would hope, “During these long years, they [Gregor's parents] had become convinced that he was set up for life at this firm, besides they were so preoccupied with their immediate problems as to have lost all sense of foresight (Kafka, 2007).” This line indicates both that Gregor is under appreciated at work, but more importantly his parents.
Now, to apply Gregor's under-appreciation to the Marxist lens, there needs to be a clear understanding of the components of Marxism that apply to Kafka's “Metamorphosis.” The Marxist political ideology could be divided into two sections, one on materialism, and the other dealing with the economic structures of society. The latter section is concerned with the worker of disenfranchised people, like Kafka's Gregor Samsa. The majority of “The Metamorphosis” is illuminating the struggle and wronging against Gregor. In fact, in terms of economics, Gregor is late to work because of his spontaneous transformation, his boss decides to visit him. So, there is a combination of demoralizing things happening to Gregor simultaneously that tear away at the fabric of his humanity.
Franz Kafka's “The Metamorphosis” is a piece that deals directly with the issues of the worker and the strife it places on the mentality of people. Perhaps Kafka did not intend to write a Marxist supporting story, but simply a story about the struggle of Gregor Samsa. It speaks to the fact that Gregor is representative of many people, the very people that the Karl Marx had in mind when he analyzed his society.
Kafka, Franz. "The Metamorphosis." The Norton Anthology of World Literature. 2nd ed. Vol. F. NewYork: Norton, 2002. 1999-2030. Print.
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