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Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions$
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Elizabeth Boa

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198158196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198158196.001.0001

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The Double Taboo The Male Body in The Judgment, The Metamorphosis, and In the Penal Colony

The Double Taboo The Male Body in The Judgment, The Metamorphosis, and In the Penal Colony

Chapter:
(p.107) 5 The Double Taboo The Male Body in The Judgment, The Metamorphosis, and In the Penal Colony
Source:
Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fictions
Author(s):

Elizabeth Boa

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198158196.003.0005

The double taboo described in this chapter is the image of the phallus, and in context, the male body as a symbolic and sensual apparatus and entity. Kafka lived at a time in which society was male-centric, but in which the prominence of women was well underway. He not only criticized the patriarchal mindset from where he originated but also the emergence of conflicting views towards the male appearance itself. Added to this was the changing of the male image wherein the athletic and lithe youth was favored as the ideal masculine form, yet blurring the line between the two sexes. Kafka modernized the battle between the symbolic and the sensual apparatus, something he wrote of unorthodoxly in The Metamorphosis, wherein Gregor Samsa's father–almost grandfatherly but retaining that symbolic power–comes to blow with his virile son, albeit transformed into an insect. There is much symbolism with regards to Gregor's transformation, and this is heavily discussed in this chapter.

Keywords:   phallus, The Metamorphosis, The Judgement, Penal Colony

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