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The Metamorphosis Through a Jewish Lens

            Kafka's classic, The Metamorphosis, offers insight into the lives of assimilated Jews living in Prague during the late 19th and early 20th Century. It reflects both the anti- Semitic attitudes in politics and in the media and the Jews' response to assimilation's effects on their identity. The Metamorphosis reflects the apprehension that pervaded the mind of assimilated Jews in Prague. The book portrays Gregor, his transformation to a bug, and his alienation from his family and his work, as a Czech Jew living in the Josefstadt Ghetto, who were enclosed from outside life, lived in tight spaces, were barely fed, and were cruelly treated. His family can be seen as the German and Czechs of the time who despised, distrusted, and killed many Jews in Bohemia.
             In Metamorphosis, parallels between Gregor and the Jewish people in Prague at this time can be drawn. Throughout the novel we see a physical and emotional alienation of Gregor. This is how the Jewish people were treated prior to the Holocaust. Gregor tended to "lock all the doors during the night, even at home. " (Kafka, 16) This habit portrays that even his home doesn't feel homey to him. He has always felt like an outsider to his family and home. This is true of the Jews at this time, as well. Although they were greatly assimilated in their home of Prague, they never felt at home and at peace because the Germans and Czechs made them feel inferior. It's as if the Jews were strangers in their own land. Even Gregor's physical room was a reminder of his inferiority. "They had become accustomed to putting things in this room that they couldn't put elsewhere"" (Kafka, 56). The ghettos represent this exact occurrence. The Germans and Czechs felt that whatever they did not like and did not have use for could be tossed in the Ghettos. Gregor, had to stay in his stuffy room when the family was hosting tenants, just like the Jews were not able to leave the Ghettos.

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