Pen To Paper: Exploring 'Metamorphosis', A Timeless Tale Of Alienation And Self-Discovery

Pen To Paper: Exploring 'Metamorphosis', A Timeless Tale Of Alienation And Self-Discovery

Metamorphosis, written by Franz Kafka, is considered a 20th-century literary masterpiece. Often compared to Dante and Shakespeare, Kafka mastered the ability to create a reader’s paradise with the utmost freedom to mould the story as per your individualistic interpretation.

Parushni JatharUpdated: Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 12:30 PM IST
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Parushni Jathar | File

Have you ever asked your loved ones if they would still love you if you were a cockroach?

Metamorphosis, written by Franz Kafka, is considered a 20th-century literary masterpiece. Often compared to Dante and Shakespeare, Kafka mastered the ability to create a reader’s paradise with the utmost freedom to mould the story as per your individualistic interpretation.

While it is a short read, it will compel you to read it again and give you a reason to not leave your chair. Your first read might deceive you into thinking you grasped the story, but keeping your pride aside for the sake of your curiosity, you read it again and identify the reason why this vermin resonated with you the most.

That reason will chain you to your thoughts and weigh down your body in bed. So for all who read the first line of this review and thought, “Wow! A silly little book to read instead of introspecting my deepest insecurities,' You were wrong and I misled you, just like the first line of the book. This book follows a young travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa, who is also the sole breadwinner of his house.

He thought he had everything an evolved man would want: the respect of his family, respect in society, job security, and financial authority. These externalities were expected to provide him with contentment, but they couldn't have been farther from what his soul truly craved. Up until he became a vermin, it was unknown to him what more could be desired to help him fill this void within.

While navigating through the functionalities of his new biological features, he juggled his family’s jarring reactions. The question of whether his family unconditionally loved him or not tethered him away from his quest to find the truth of his transformation. As any human with emotions, he tackled his family’s repulsion with reasoning by putting his self-worth on the line.

The story unravels the complexities of social relations in a modern society afflicted with crass judgments and class disparities. The novel challenges the ideal notion of a middle-class family as it explores concepts of isolation, self-introspection, self-worth, and self-love. Kafka points out the absurdities of existence and the baggage it carries in a post-industrialised world where the hustle is glorified and empathy and love are regarded as a sign of weakness.

Some might consider this book ahead of its time in an era where the foundations of basic human liberties were still mulled over, but now that the definition of liberty is so broad, it is time for this story to shine.

In an age of social media, you are burdened with the pretence of a “perfect life,” which is bundled with feelings of alienation and disillusionment. As the overwhelming feeling of relatability creeps in, you will finally look within yourself and face that detached reality. Then, my friend, you will undo your vermin-like tendencies and finally become a human being.

(This review is part of the winning reviews published in the Pen to Paper contest hosted by The Free Press Journal annually . This exclusive contest is open to teenagers only)

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