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Oct 21, 2011

Realism in Kafka

“The terror of art is that the dream reveals the reality”—The Metamorphosis

Kafka's writing attracted little attention until after his death. Critics have interpreted Kafka's works in the context of a variety of literary schools, such as modernism, magic realism and so on. The Metamorphsis is a story begins with a travelling salesman, Gregor Samse, walking to find himself transformed into a monstrous insect like creature. He finds tat he enjoys climbing the walls. Later as he loses consciousness, his mother begs husband to spare her son’s life. For this metamorphosis how family members react and finally how he dies is the story of the novel. The change of form of Gregor in to an insect is the magical element and change of nature of the other characters of the story is realistic element. The way Gregor’s father change is the most realistic part of the novella. 

Towards the end of the second part, the infuriated father starts throwing apples at Gregor. One apple gets stuck to his back and causes great pain to Gregor and ultimately causes his death at the end. Finally at the end of the story, Gregor realizes how much his family members hate him and with hat king of disgust his father sees him. So he wishes to disappear or die immediately. That too after the scene with the roomers his sister shouts, “It has to go”. These words cause great pain to him than the rotting apple at his back.

He thought back on his family with deep emotion and love.
His conviction that he would have to disappear was if 
possible, even firmer than that of his sister’s

At the end when he dies, his father’s words are,” Will now we can thank God” And the family hopes for a better future. “Animals are closer to us than human beings…We find relations easier with animals than with men”- Franz Kafka

Gregor’s portrayal is truly a typical example for magical realism. He becomes an enormous bug with a human mind. After changing in to a bug he acts and behaves as an insect but he thinks emotionally and sentimentally like a human being. Most of the insects prefer to hide in holed and crevices and dark places. Gregor prefers that. And very importantly his repulsion for normal food must be mentioned. Hen he was a normal human being he liked milk. Having this in mind his sister brings milk for him because that was his favorite drink. But it is not tasteful to him anymore.

Themes of alienation and persecution are repeatedly emphasized. His work is not a written reflection of any of his own struggles, but a reflection of how people invent struggles. Franz Kafka's The Trial (1925) is magic realism. it tells the story of a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor the reader. A true classic of alienation with its famous opening: 'Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning,' The Trial is always sinister and often nightmarish. K. is never told what he's supposed to have done but is guilty by dint of his very existence. Human life is an insoluble enigma, the world absurd and menacing, existence pointless. Kafka's description in The Trial is completely metaphysical and absurd.

Similarly, the requirement for the traveller to register with the authorities in The Castle to stay a night seems repressive and odd to Britons and Americans. In it a protagonist known only as K, struggles to gain access to the mysterious authorities of a castle who govern the village for unknown reasons. The castle is locked and closed to K and the town’s people neither can access. Mainstream studies of Kafka's works normally present his fiction as an engagement with absurdity, a critique of bureaucracy or a search for redemption, failing to account for the images of law and legality which constitute an important part of "the horizon of meaning" in his fiction.

The apparent hopelessness and absurdity that seem to permeate his works are considered emblematic of existentialism. Many critics have tried to locate a Marxist influence in his satirization of bureaucracy, in pieces such as In the Penal Colony, The Trial and The Castle; whereas others point to anarchism as an inspiration for Kafka's anti-bureaucratic viewpoint. Still others have interpreted his works through the lens of Judaism (Borges), through Freudianism (because of his familial struggles), or as allegories of a metaphysical quest for God (Thomas Mann).

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