This essay attempts to examine and analyze the autobiographical links in Kafka's fiction Metamorphosis and The Judgment, with particular focus on the techniques employed by the author to execute this feat.

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Dr. Ill: Basically, you talented sick mind… you used writing as “self torture to bring about personal healing.” You grew to expect and appreciate your father’s abuse didn’t you? Without it, there was less inspiration – so much less need for catharsis … you sick, sick man.

Kafka: Nooo… You are vrong! Eet vas hisss vault… my Vatherr!!!

        This extract came from a humorous interview-presentation and refers to the Austrian writer Franz Kafka. However, the fact that this man’s traumatic life is depicted in and impacts upon his work so strongly is no laughing matter. This essay attempts to examine and analyze the autobiographical links in Kafka’s fiction Metamorphosis and The Judgment, with particular focus on the techniques employed by the author to execute this feat.

Upon reading Metamorphosis, the first thing the reader notices is the dismal imagery used by Kafka; the dull, gloomy and humid environment serving to foreshadow the decay and deterioration of Gregor’s life. Additionally the newspaper Gregor’s father uses, creates the imagery of a man chasing an insect. This is ironic because it is the constant work on the part of Gregor that supports the buying of that said newspaper, and it is this work that transforms Gregor into vermin. The exploitation at the hands of the oppressive bourgeois culture of his world, robs him of his humanity, thus turning him into a creature devoid of thought and feeling to the point that he might as well be an insect since he has long ago ceased to be human. Family relationships with Gregor have been corrupted as the bourgeois mentality has ripped away the hymen of sentimentality, thus causing it to be a victim of capitalism, reducing family relation to a mere money relation. Gregor is thus ‘raped’ and ‘prostituted’ by his family – resulting in his decline. Ironically however, As the story progresses, Gregor apparently becomes more human, and less of a machine built for society. This is seen by the appreciation of music he displays as he temporarily escapes from his room, drawn by the sound of his sister’s violin. Just as Kafka temporarily finds cathartic relief in his writing, he sympathizes with his character Gregor and grants him some of the inner humanity he lacks as a working machine – even as he externally declines. This may be Kafka’s way of affirming the Christian view that in death there is life, evident as well in his treatment of Georg in The Judgment. This view is seen also in Metamorphosis by use of the symbol of the door, a point furthered later in this essay.

        Kafka’s use of symbolism is first noticeable to the reader by the apple which Gregor’s father throws at him. In using this symbol the author also employs the technique of biblical allusion, making reference to Adam and Eve’s fall from grace. The apple thrown is rotten, thus this may be seen as Man’s fall from the grace of the Father. This is significant of Kafka’s own life, as his work was met with indifference by his oppressive father who ridiculed him and saw him as a failure. This fixation with his father is also evident in The Judgment where Kafka’s protagonist Georg lives in tension with his father who places pressure upon him with regards to the family business, insisting that it be run his way, this suggesting that he sees his son as insufficient. Another example of this pressure is seen with his reaction to Georg’s supposedly ‘imaginary friend’ as he ridicules him. Georg’s father pronounces judgment on his son, condemning him to death by drowning. This is relative to Kafka’s relationship with his father as he lived in tension with his father and was the victim of his father’s judgment. This work by Kafka is suggestive of religious allusion as once again, God – Man, father – son relations are evident. Kafka is however sympathetic to Georg, as, even though the story ends with his death, the metaphorical manner of his death – drowning, portrays a cleansing for his protagonist and perhaps a new start elsewhere away from an oppressive father.

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        The fore-mentioned symbol of the rotten apple is representative also of grotesque, and death – as the charwoman does. In Metamorphosis, Gregor’s room represents confinement, as the misery and depression he is trapped by and feels inside, manifests itself outward in his decline. Like Kafka, Gregor is trapped and consumed by the alienation he is subject to – this contributing to his depression and loss of sense of being. Gregor is shoved into the room that confines him by his father as “from behind his father gave him a strong push which was literally a deliverance and he flew far ...

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