I find it absolutely wonderful when I read a fantasy book and it directly correlates to my simple, boring life. I just completed reading Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and I can’t believe how exactly resonating this Novella was. I mean there are books about love, mental health, magic, being poor, struggling with life and death, etc. but this one is so weird and absurd, yet so relatable. A middle-class man, whose family depends on him completely, wakes up one morning as a bug (okay that’s not relatable at all but we’ll get there).
If I woke up one morning as a bug I don’t know what I’d do, I know I was laughing while reading the first few pages as to how he only cared about his work, and his family’s financial situation, and not the fact that he is a literal bug right now. Is it a little sad to admit that even I would do the same thing? I would care less about what has happened to me and more about what will happen to my family, how they’ll manage without me, and how my parents would work or things like that. I could feel whatever Gregor Samsa was feeling at that moment, so helpless, like he has failed his family. However, the worst part of this situation was not turning out to be a bug, but how soon you’re own family gets tired of you when you become a burden to them, and how everyone else’s life goes on even though your life is put on hold.
Gregor, when he was a human, never took a moment to think about himself, he did it all for his family, he made money for them, planned out things for them, made sure everyone was extremely comfortable and lived conveniently. It didn’t matter to him how much he hated waking up early, dreaded his job or how much he loathed every hollow conversation he has on his work trips, he didn’t take a single moment for himself. And you might think what a responsible, mature son, who cares and prioritises his family above everything else. Is it though? Because no matter how pure his intentions were, he made his family into a bunch of dependent, lazy ass, invalid people, who can’t even lift a finger for themselves. And, if he never turned into a bug, they would never find their true capability in the outside world. Unfortunately, he learns this about his family in the most tragic way.
It makes me think of something I heard recently, ” If you keep providing support to someone they’ll keep leaning on you no matter how exhausting it is for you, and you might think they need you more than anything in the world, but that’s not true. The moment you take back your support they’ll go and find it from somewhere else”.
Franz Kafka was a middle-class author, whose parents disapproved of his writing, I believe because of financial reasons and they were very much dependent on him. His struggles of anxiety, isolation, lack of approval can be clearly seen in his work- Metamorphosis. It is one of the classic Absurdist Fiction (the pointlessness of mankind and specifically the emotional angst and anxiety present when the existence of purpose is challenged).
There might be hundreds of metaphors in this book, yet this was the best I could relate to. The moral of this story I would like to believe is- “You can decide what you want to metamorphose into, a very unfortunate bug, like Gregor, or an independent, beautiful, free person like his sister Grete. And if you fail to decide it early on, don’t worry, fate will do it for you.”