How does the act of metamorphosis relate to the period of Kafka's The Metamorphosis.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the major themes in Kafka's The Metamorphosis is isolation or alienation. It is easy to see how this theme might find its way into Kafka's story based upon what was happening in Prague, where Kafka was from.

...his home town of Prague was a Czech city within a German-speaking empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The difficulty for the citizens was finding a place in this diverse "empire." Czechoslovakia was not yet an independent nation. The German-speaking upper-class exerted more control and influence, though it was a minority. Because the Jews saw the wisdom in associating with this upper-class "power," they came to see themselves as part of this minority rather than finding an association with the Czechs. The Czechs, therefore, did not view the Jews as a part of their community, but rather as a part of the German community. Ironically, the German contingent did not see the Jews as a part of their community either. In this way, the Jews were disenfranchised—thus experiencing the same feelings of isolation that Gregor Samsa felt in the story.

There were bad feelings between...

...Czechs and Germans and between Czechs and Jews.

Riots focusing violence at the Jewish population started at the turn of the century when Kafka was a young teen—instigated by the Czechs. This rejection and viciousness at the hands of the Czechs would only have increased the Jews' (and Kafka's) sense of alienation. Changes from the Industrial Revolution pushed aside many of the old ways (an event that also occurred throughout other parts of Europe) to make room for the new; alterations to society under these circumstances would have had a negative effect on a vast segment of the population, for the poor did not prosper during these times as wealthy manufacturers did.

The theme of the outcast, so prevalent in a variety of circles of Jewish society at the time, can be seen in Kafka's Gregor Samsa and his metamorphosis.

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The Metamorphosis

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