I found The Metamorphosis to be very Kafkaesque, which makes sense I suppose. Although I don’t think stories always need a definitive meaning, it makes it easier for me to write about The Metamorphosis if I figure out some consistent ideas and themes. So here is my main focus for this story: The perception of change, and the difference between mental and physical change. Although I can’t say that these issues were Kafka’s intention points in writing the story, it seems like he makes a lot of interesting statements on these issues throughout.
1. The way we as humans adapt to change. After his drastic transformation, Gregor continues to worry only about what he knows and understands. He gripes about problems he can control, rather than those he can’t deal with or those beyond his power. (such as being an insect) Even after he is fully aware of his buglike nature he still worries primarily about work and money. Maybe i’m reading too much into this, but it seems like humans do this; tend to focus on the trivial and understandable. Is drastic change more acceptable because we have more to compare it to or less?
2. Dissociation of identity. Eventually, Gregor’s sister begins to talk about the bug as being something different from Gregor. His appearance has changed although his mind and narrative seems not to have. SO, there ends up being a lot here on the MIND VS. PHYSICAL. It once again raises the question of what truly makes a monster; the way they appear, and the fact that they are different, or, the way they think. Gregor’s appearance is a key reason that he loses the support of his family. So what defines identity?Another key factor in this is communication, which seems to create monsters in all our texts. (Well, usually the lack of communication or the warped nature of communication)
3. I think there is a lot more to discuss, but I had this one last weird thought I wanted to share. The story is told to make it seem like Gregor has changed. This might sound crazy, but I found myself wondering in this text: who has really changed? Gregor once asks “was this still my father” and the gentleman lodgers are not surprised to see the monstrous bug as his family. Apart from a described physical change, perhaps this story represents more the change of others, and his obvious disparity is just a sort of ridiculous reference point.
And…. The Yellow Wallpaper.
Not much to say for now, really. I thought it was brilliant. Apparently one of the goals was to make you feel like you are going insane and it surely worked. You think you know what’s going in and whose plot you are following but there is a subtle shift somehow and you aren’t sure anymore. This ties in with the critique on the way mental illness was approached: if you look at it in linear fashion things will warp anyway.