Frank Kafka



Setting in "Metamorphisis" (Time, place, period...)

Escapism in "Metamorphisis", "Rip Van Winkle" and "Brazil" GO

Form of Dominance Go


The Setting of Metamorphosis

By William C. Kowal


    Novels are written in light of the inspiration of the writer. They often reflect what a writer is going through in his personal life and set the tone of the story. Franz Kafka lived in a very peculiar social environment. Kafka lived in the modernistic wave of the end at the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in Eastern Europe. Not only was the modern industrious movement in effect in this part of the world, but his country, and others surrounding his homeland were in political instability.

Bohemia - Czechoslovakia

Franz Kafka, who was born on the 3rd of July, 1883, grew up in a now defunct country known as Bohemia. The Czech Republic, as established in 1992, was once Czechoslovakia (similar geographical division as today) and divided into three individual countries before 1918 (Pánek, Jaroslav. 2009). These three divisions were:

-    Bohemia (occupying the entire western part of the territory and the nation’s capital, Prague)

    -Moravia (occupying the center and eastern part of the territory)  

     -Silesia (a small country in the northern part of the border)

It should be noted that Europe was in an era of the reorganization of many of its empires during this time. The Kingdome of Prussia, the Ottoman Empire and the Austrian-Hungarian Kingdome (which Bohemia was a part of) all ceased to exist after WWI (Pánek, Jaroslav. 2009).


Modernism – Industrialism

    This social movement marked many changes in society. These changes were mainly felt in North America, Western and the North-East part of Eastern Europe during the turning point of the 20th century. Some of these changes can be noted in the Kafka’s novella “Metamorphosis”. Gregor, the protagonist of the story, lives in an urbanistic environment which is one of the major changes in the modern world; many people made the move from residing in the country side of major cities to the city itself to be in proximity of employment (Hewitt, T., Johnson, H. and Wield, D. 1992). Furthermore, we can note that his household has the characteristics of a nuclear family, which is a typical structure of the modern Europeen household. This concept is defined as the family house being made up of both parents, their children (of various ages), and sometimes of the grand-parents all living under the same roof (Hewitt, T., Johnson, H. and Wield, D. 1992).

The means of transportation greatly evolved during this era; the automobile and the train started to be used as common source of transportation. As stated in the text, Gregor needs to travel to his job by train.

Industrialism marked the start of structured and well-established employments. Weekly shift work and daily hours became essential to employment. At that time, the average office job demanded its personnel to work from Monday to Friday, eight in the morning to six in the evening (Hewitt, T., Johnson, H. and Wield, D. 1992). We do not get a clear insight of the nature of Gregor’s employment, but we do know that he has an important office job that demands him to be at work on time at eight o’clock in the morning.

Many problems started to rise from the conformities of industrialism. Many workers started experiencing alienisms from spending many hours working. Some workers may have started to go through an existential crisis of his or her purpose in life; employees start to feel like their job is the only important factor in their lives. Their existence solely revolves around their employment and the company employer is what controls them (Hadden, R. 1997). Gregor goes through this phase of alienation. When he discovers that he has turned into a giant insect, he is more concerned not being able to make it to his job on time than on his mysterious morphological transformation. He seems to only be worried about the fact of possibly losing his job and not being able to repay the debt he has to his parents. We can clearly understand that his employment is at the top of his priorities in life.


Works Cited


     Pánek, Jaroslav. A History of the Czech lands, Prague: Karolinum. 2009


    Hewitt, T., Johnson, H. and Wield, D. Industrialisation and Development. London: Oxford University Press: Oxford. 1992


    Hadden, R. W. Sociological Theory: An Introduction to the Classical Tradition. Peterborough, Broadview Press. 1997