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The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka
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Which main elements of existentialism are expressed in Kafka's The Metamorphosis? It's difficult to understand how freedom to choose is a theme of this work.

Gregor chooses to be an insect, and in so doing, is able to make choices without presumptions. He can change the meaning of any experience because he has no presumptions about what his life should be like.

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"Existence precedes essence" is the key to understanding all fictionalizations of existentialism (for example Camus' The Stranger or Doderer's "Every Man a Murderer.")  Are we the products of a designer, or do we design ourservles by our choices? In Kafka's Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa wakens to a new set of "givens"; he "sees" hiself stripped of the external sign of a "human," with all the assumptions and presumptions of men.  He must then choose some different assumptions, those of an insect perhaps, which frees him to "invent" himself anew, to shed all of his suppositions like the outer shell of exoskeleton creatures such as beetles.  As he faces his family and social problems, he is free to make non-predetermined choices and invent himself.  Kafka saw this shedding of presumptions as the way to question everything (for example, the rules of law in "Before the Law.")  "Choose; that is, invent" says Sartre in "Being and Nothingness."  

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