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Is Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis a comedy or tragedy?

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sarah-sleeps | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 7, 2009 at 7:19 PM via web

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Is Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis a comedy or tragedy?

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flamingogirl | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 7, 2009 at 11:15 PM (Answer #1)

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The Metamorphosis is a tragedy. Not only did Gregor die alone and betrayed by his own family, but that was also how he lived his life. He worked a job he hated to support his family and repay his father's debts, yet the family never appreciated this until he was unable to work. After he became a bug (i.e., "disabled" in a way), his family resented having to care for him. They actually resented his very existence. And after he died they were not sad, but relieved that he was finally gone and their "hardship" was finally over.

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted October 25, 2009 at 1:18 PM (Answer #2)

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The Metamorphosis is a story by Kafka that is often considered in the light of Absurdism and going by the portrayal of human condition in the existentialist-absurdist, it is a tragi-comic vision. As Chaplin would have said, from a distance where the particulars cannot be seen, it looks like comedy; the more you close in, the more it resembles a tragedy.But, this Kafka story is difficult to conceive as a comedy.

The element of ridicule operative on Gregor is entirely coming from the family, but does not get any authorial support. The illogical and abrupt transformation can be seen as a parody of the Ovidian model and hence a comedy, but the way the aftermaths of this transformation have been worked out, it is nothing but tragedy. This is tragedy in its modern sense, where there is no ethical frame at work whatsoever. It is  suffering without any doing. There are Biblically evocative scenes in the story such as the moment when the family members throw apple on the insect that Gregor has turned into. There are connotations of Original Sin and a replacement of reason with animal instinct that underlines the Fall in this tragic predicament. Gregor's tragedy also lies in him being stripped from his language. He cannot even express his condition. He is left to die a very sad and lonely death.

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