Literary Devices in The Metamorphosis

Question: Discuss the literary techniques used in The Metamorphosis. Literary Devices in The Metamorphosis


In the novella “The Metamorphosis”, Franz Kafka utilizes multiple literary techniques to illustrate unique points and critical situations of modern humanity.

Click here: For more notes of the novel The Metamorphosis

The point of view

The story is told in a limited third-person perspective. This means that the narrator is not a character in the story, but tells the events from a cognizable place. The narrator is able to delve deeper into the character’s thoughts, feelings, and situations to better understand his or her point of view. Kafka has chosen to maintain a single focus on Gregor throughout the plot of this short novel, including minor changes to the other character’s perspectives. Thus, the third-person limited perspective allows readers to get in the character’s head and see what happens outside his room.

The Allegory in The Metamorphosis

The regrettable allegorical concept of the novel Metamorphosis is that modern society separates people from one another. In the story, Gregor Samsa wakes up one day like a giant insect. The rest of his story follows his thoughts and actions when he is locked in his own room and separated from his family and his previous life. Gregor, his job, and his transformation are the allegory for the people of modern age how they can be separated from each other.

The metaphor in the metamorphosis

In ”The Metamorphosis”, Gregor Samsa’s change into an insect serves as an extended metaphor. The term “extended metaphor” refers to a comparison between two opposite things or events to reflect the hidden and inner significance of the situation. Gregor feels like a prisoner in his career. He has never missed his office in the last five years. His work continues as a lonely traveling salesman. He never gets time for real interpersonal relationships outside of his home. The people whom he sees are clients and they do not carry any importance in his life. Gregor is also a prisoner in his own family. Here the prison serves as an extended metaphor in “The Metamorphosis.”

Symbols and imagery

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.

Dramatic irony

In The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka uses a lot of dramatic ironies. Dramatic irony refers to that the audience knows something that the characters do not know. It makes the actions of the characters humorous. Since the main character in the Metamorphosis has changed into a beetle, no one understands his thoughts and feelings. We, as the audience, know 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 such ways that do not make any sense. As a result, the humor produces darkness for Gregor. The chief clerk’s coming to Gregor’s apartment, the violin playing, and emptying Gregor’s room are the finest examples of dramatic irony.

The allusion in The Metamorphosis

Kafka sketches the character of Gregor Samsa in line with the Bible because Gregor is a man who resembles Jesus Christ. The apple throwing episode can be cited here as an example. Gregor’s father throws apple after apple at him. One of the apples hits the back of Gregor and he is mortally wounded. This incident is allusively similar to the crucifixion of Christ. This explanation also deeply implies that Gregor has to die for the development of his family just as the Christians believe that Jesus had to die to protect his followers from the infernal.


So, simply we can say that the literary techniques used in this novel have flourished it and made it tragic and comic.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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