Metamorphosis - Economics as a Catalyst for Change

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Economics as a Catalyst for Change Franz Kafka’s novella, Metamorphosis, is the story of Gregor Samsa who awakes one morning to discover himself altered into an atrocious cockroach. As a result, he can no longer work and is no longer useful to his economically dependent family. Because of this, he is treated with an increasing neglect, disrespect and violence until he eventually dies. Instead of grieving his death, his family decides to go for a walk in the park. This literary analysis will focus on economics in Metamorphosis. Economics can be interpreted as the catalysts for change throughout the novella. Kafka’s Metamorphosis shows the capitalist system's dehumanizing effect on society through an economic perspective. In the capitalist system, there are those who have wealth in the form of capital and those who can produce wealth through labour. The setting of this novella is a capitalist society. It takes place at the beginning of the 20th Century and indicates an urbanized and industrial society, where Europe had passed on from agrarian and pastoral experience. The Samsa family is representative of many families of this time. Bound by labour, they are dependent on their physical capacity to work. This new way of living was characterized by an increasing dependence of money and material goods. This necessity leads to long working hours and the reduction of leisure time, leading to an excess in oppression and stress. These social and economic forces are all present within Kafka’s work. The first idea that arises is the Metamorphosis of Gregor into a monstrous cockroach. Therefore labour is no longer an option for him, since his new physical state does not allow him to perform such tasks. Hence this, Gregor cannot fulfil his purpose, to maintain his family’s fairly luxurious lifestyle which takes place in a rather new way of living,
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