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The Picture Frame

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

For a discussion of the photograph of the lady in furs, check out the theme "Morality and Ethics." But let's talk about the frame around the photograph. That's right – the frame. When we see characters doing something artistic in a story, it's usually a signal that the author is making some commentary on what he or she is trying to do as an artist, as a writer. Now the frame is something that Gregor artfully crafted in his free time, when he could have been wooing marriageable women or working on selling more fabric, neither of which he accomplishes successfully. An allegory, perhaps, of Kafka's own little novella, which, one could argue, is just a story and doesn't really contribute anything tangible to society? That's certainly a question the story raises about itself. And if Gregor represents the writer-figure here, what does it mean for him to be turned into a vermin? Nothing – and no one – is safe from Kafka's irony, not even himself.

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