The Metamorphosis: Plot Overview
The novella metamorphosis by Kafka is known by many as an existential kind of a novel. A close focus of its narrative strategy by leaving out its philosophy makes one understand that the novella has much magical realism in the metamorphosis. There is no proving like in the other novellas like that of Salman that Kafka employed this method. This essay aims at showing that Kafka’s masterpiece is a blend of magical realism and fantasy. This type of genre is indeed imaginative and fun-loving. Other people can call it pleasant realism because it has jokes upon it while carries meaning that can easily be understood. The metamorphosis by Franz is a classic piece of literature because of its stunning sociological, psychological and existential man that tries to pay the family debt but instead transforms into a bug. Kafka chose to write his novella from a third-person narration point of view so that he can serve his purpose of wanting to reflect on his personal experience and at the same time entertain.
Magical realism is different from pure fantasy mainly because it is set in normal, modern society with clear descriptions of human beings living in society (Bloom, 135). On the other hand, fantasy literature transcends the issues of the real world while the writer creates the world of make-believe. Franz Kafka has used magical realism that blends both reality and fantasy because this story can be read at various levels. The metamorphosis can be, allegorical, symbolic or philosophical (Kafka, 56).
The Outline Story
The traveling salesman by the name Gregor Samsa who stays with his parents in the same place wakes up one morning to find himself as a very large insect (Kuper, 36). The story of the novel develops on how the family reacts having found their son in the morning an insect and finally how the insect dies.
If the story of metamorphosis is pure fantasy, the reader would like to know how Gregor transformed overnight into an insect and how he will turn back to a normal state (Gale, 45). However, the only fantasy in this story is Gregor’s metamorphosis. The real metamorphosis of the story is when his parents discovered his state; the kind of change they go through is the real metamorphosis of the story. This is the reason Franz Kafka chose to use magical realism (Bloom, 230). In this story, there is a change of both the character and the form. The magical element presents itself when Gregor changed into an insect. The change of nature of the other characters of the story is the realistic element.
In the story, Gregor is a gentleman who takes good care of his younger sister and the aged parents. His father is not responsible for his family duties and wastes time roaming around while his mother is a homemaker. This is to say his parents are jobless and this is where the conflict with his father arises (Bloom, 177). The mother loves him very much while Grete the sister is very concerned about him. On realization that Gregor has changed into an insect, they at first react with a lot of concern and after a shorter while they reacted with indifference and lastly with disgust (Kafka, 111).
The farther changed his character more significantly in the entire family as compared with the sister and the mother. It is the change of character (metamorphosis) that mad Gregor to wonder whether he was still his father. He questioned himself whether he was the lazy man who used to sleep the whole day (Gale, 79). He still questioned himself whether he was the one who could barely stand with his own legs but because of joy seeing his son changed to an insect managed to lift his arms. Gregor wondered how his father managed to get the blue suit with the golden buttons (Kafka, 156). This is the real metamorphosis in the story and is the most realistic part of the novella.
The encounter between the son and the father is fantastic. The furious father starts to throw some rotten apples at the back of the son who has changed to an insect in the second part of the story. The stuck apple at the back of Gregor is what causes a lot of pain and eventually his death (Kafka, 137).
A good example of magical realism is Gregor’s depiction. He becomes a large insect with human knowledge. He acts and behaves like an insect after changing into a bug but reasons emotionally like a normal human being especially with his sentiments. Gregor prefers to hide in dark places and hoes just like other insects (Bloom, 198). When he was a normal human being, he used to prefer drinking milk. His sister gives him milk because he knew it was his favorite food but it was tasteless. Her sister is forced to bring a variety of food because she no longer knew what he would prefer to eat. Amongst his preferences were half-rotten vegetables and other decaying matter (Gale, 167). This is metamorphosis and this is the reason Franz Kafka decided to use magic realism in his novella. It was also a sign of metamorphosis when he could not even stand at places where there was fresh food or even condoned the smell.
At the end of the story, Gregory realized that his family had a lot of hate for him. They no longer needed him and at one point her sister shouted at him arguing that he has to disappear (Kafka, 235). His father at one point so him with disgust and hence the words of her sister cause great pain than the rotting apple at his back. When he flashbacked on how he used to care for the family, he became more firm that he would disappear than her sister’s wishes (Gale, 215).
The story has a lot of fantastic elements and some realistic elements and hence, the blend of the two is what makes Kafka use magical realism. However, there is a clear indication that magical realism is a minor element in the book. The feeling of worthlessness kills him. Magical realism has implications of fantasy although it is not unbelievable.
Bloom, Harold. Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. New York, NY: Chelsea House Publ, 2007. Print.
Gale, Cengage L. A Study Guide for Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Farmington Hills: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016. Internet resource.
Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis Thrift Study Edition. Dover Publications, 2013. Internet resource.
Kafka, Franz, and Susan Bernofsky. The Metamorphosis. , 2014. Print.
Kuper, Peter, and Franz Kafka. The Metamorphis. New York: Crown, 2003. Print.