What Are The Literary Devices In The Metamorphosis?

Updated 30 September, 2023
In The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka, among other literary devices, mainly uses irony, metaphors, symbolism and imagery.
Detailed answer:

In his famous novella “The Metamorphosis”, Franz Kafka makes use of multiple literary techniques to illustrate unique points and critical situations of modern humanity.
The novella starts out one morning with Gregor waking up to find he has transformed into a beetle. When his family realizes he hasn't left for work, they try to wake him up. However, since he has locked his bedroom door, they don't yet know about his transformation. So, his family continues acting as though everything is normal and are simply confused as to why Gregor hasn't gone to work. The audience knows what is happening with Gregor and what he is thinking and feeling, but his family does not. This leads to several situations where the family acts in ways that don't make sense. This is the example of dramatic irony.
Next, Kafka uses the extended metaphor of the metamorphosis throughout the novel as a way to describe change. This is seen in the literal metamorphosis of Gregor, but also in the more figurative metamorphoses undergone by the Samsa family, more specifically in Grete. For example, Kafka uses diction such as "blossomed", "shapely", and "young body" to describe the physical attributes resulting from Grete's "metamorphosis" into a young woman.
Finally, the symbols and imagery play a significant role in the story. The only objects described in detail – Gregor’s childhood desk, the picture of the woman hanging on the wall – are those that connect Gregor with the memories and aspirations of his human life. Franz Kafka uses symbolic imagery to express the more complex themes of the novel The Metamorphosis. The picture has been first mentioned at the outset of the novel, when Gregor looks at the wall, readers realize that Gregor is isolated and lonely. This picture later comes up in the novel when his furniture is removed from his room. He tries heart and soul to keep the picture in his room. This action shows his frustration and longing for a continued human relationship, as the image symbolizes the end of his human relationship. In this situation, the furniture in his room symbolizes his human life, and removing it shows the loss of all human elements from his body and life.

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