In the book “Metamorphosis” Franz Kafka, the author, used many different symbols throughout the book, such as the couch and blanket to symbolize events in the book that are a mirror into the events in Kafka’s life. In this book, Kafka combines a realistic situation with another situation that is impossible. All of his writings have at least one thing in common, there is at least one window that gives you a look into what happened in Kafka’s real life, and the problems he faced.
Kafka used Gregor’s metamorphosis to represent himself, and through him he uses the couch and the blanket to show how Gregor wanted to shield his family from himself, just as Kafka did. Kafka was born into a Jewish family but his father forced them to learn and act as Germans to avoid trials and prosecutions that were brought upon Jews during a period of time when people thought they were dirty and worthless. Kafka used the couch and blanket to symbolize how much he still wanted to protect his family even if it meant hiding his real self from the world.
At first these two objects seem very insignificant, that they are just two pieces in of furniture in Gregor’s room, but they represent so much more than that. Kafka used the blanket to represent how he had to hide himself from his father because he was always so disappointed in him. In the article “The Metamorphosis”, the author, Timothy Sexton writes, “that is to say, Samsa, having been a successful salesman, was once the pillar of his family, but now, being helpless, his sister assumes in the eyes of his parents, the role of leadership and reassuring strength that he had once occupied” (Scott 37).
Kafka spent his whole life trying to please his family, mainly his father, but never could, he eventually settled for protecting them, which is what the couch and blanket represent. Not only did he have to hide himself from his family, but also from society, the world around him, so his family wouldn’t suffer the “consequences” of being Jewish. While Kafka was growing up people started to persecute Jews.
To avoid this persecution, his father made them hide their real faith from society, an example of this, “By the 19th century most German Jews had decided to assimilate themselves to the prevailing culture around them, hoping that in this way they would no longer be seen as outsiders” (Leni 1). As Kafka grew up, he was taught that if he showed his real self he would be hated, so he grew up hating himself, just like his father hated him. In the “Metamorphosis” Kafka used the couch and a blanket to symbolize Gregor protecting his family from himself.
After Gregor’s metamorphosis, his sister went to visit him sometimes, on one of the occasions, “his sister slowly turned the key as a sign for him to withdraw. That immediately startled him, although he was almost asleep, and he scuttled under the couch again. pg. 24” Gregor has gotten used to moving under the couch because he know his sister is so disgusted by his appearance that if she saw him she’d run out screaming. The couch also symbolizes the way Gregor’s hiding his inner-self even before his transformation, he was still hiding the real him so his family can fit in with the society around them.
The longer Gregor was disgusting the more “he realized from this, that the sight of him was still repulsive to her and was bout to remain repulsive to her in the future, and that she probably had to overcome a lot of resistance not to run away at the sight or even the small part of his body that jutted out from under the couch. ” All Gregor want was to be able to listen to his sister play the violin again, but when he realizes how disgusting he is to her, he doesn’t want her to suffer because of him anymore.
Even covering himself with the couch and blanker wouldn’t protect his family forever. He feels too much like a burden to them to stay any longer. He stopped eating and he let himself die, all so he would protect his family from his repulsiveness. Throughout the book Kafka used objects in the “Metamorphosis”, such as the couch, to represent what Gregor was feeling. Kafka spent his entire life trying to please his father, just as Gregor had. No matter how hard either of them tried, fictional or not, they were never accepted by anyone. Not even their own family.