Book Review: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis emerges, almost completely from the photo he describes on pg. 6 where he has “cut out of an illustrated magazine, a picture of a women in a fur hat and fur boa” (Kafka 6).  The crux of the story is then described as this woman in a “gilt frame” when her “forearm disappears into a fur muff,” as man himself turns into an animal.  Perhaps it was this vision, this disappearing arm into a fur muff that leads man to arrive at an idea that man in many ways transforms, sexually or in his work or with his desires-he transforms into an animal-as simple as the forearm slipping into the muff. 

From a formalist perspective, one can extract from this text minutiae a paradox to defamiliarize man with common mans identity to hold a mirror for man that he is in all, if not many forms, an animal.  It was both paradoxical and defamiliarizing.  Why did Kafka choose this juncture, the muff, the slipping away, the becoming an animal, a species, a kind of subcategory for his being that regardless of how hard man tries to get up, to get out of bed and go to work a man, he lays there feet “wringling.” Metamorphosis has to do with the social entrapment of gender, of being.  Perhaps the advantage of this story was to delicately shine a light on man’s social entrapment in terms of his gender and being.  To delve into man’s psychology.  To unveil emotions, and modus operandi for the uncrying man, for the high achieving man, for the consumed by desire.  Metamorphosis presents man with a context to freely be man and have a discourse with the world-free of tears-about his plight. A man and not a man, was a man, will always be a man, needs to be a man, but is an animal.

Works cited:

Kakfa, Franz. The Metamorphosis, The Floating Press, 2008

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