illustration of a giant insect with the outline of a man in a suit standing within the confines of the insect

The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

Start Free Trial

Do you think reading The Metamorphosis via a psychoanalytic, sociological, or gender studies perspective can add something to our reading of the story? If so, what, and if not, why not? You may refer to only one of these perspectives in your answer.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis can be read through any number of lenses, including psychoanalytic, sociological, and gender studies, each of which provides new insights and uncovers deeper meanings in the story. Let's look at all three of these perspectives to see how this works.

The psychoanalytic perspective would likely be quite helpful for this particular tale. After all, the main character turns into a giant insect, which could certainly be symbolic of a psychological dehumanization. Further, this lens would investigate Gregor's dream and compare it to reality. It would also look at the fear responses from the other characters and examine the reasons for the conflicts between father and son. There are many possibilities here.

The sociological perspective examines the connections between a literary work and the society in which it was written and/or read. From this perspective, we might look at Kafka's Prague and see how it is reflected in the story. We might also look at the common ideologies of the 1910s, including nihilism and modernism, to see if and where they appear in the story. Also, this tale contains a strong theme of work and the dislike and dissatisfaction with one's job. This, too, may well be reflected in the society in which it was written.

Finally, a gender-studies focus would offer insights into the motivations of the story's female characters and their relationships with the males. This perspective would examine how the female characters are portrayed as well. Think of Grete, for instance. She cares for her brother quite tenderly at first, but later, she is all too ready to get rid of him. A gender studies lens might help us discover the reasons for that change.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team