Research Question: What does the temporal effect of Kafka’s stories reveal about the protagonist in “The Country Doctor”, “The Metamorphosis”, “A Hunger Artist”, and “In the Penal Colony”?
The complex concept of time can be viewed in numerous ways; it can be relative or absolute, structured or completely disorganized. In Franz Kafka’s short stories time appears in two forms: precise or dream-like states. In the dream-state stories, “The Metamorphosis” and “The Country Doctor”, the absence and warping of time makes the stories more surreal and absurd. What is revealed from this are protagonists that must come to terms with repressed feelings or desires. Once this occurs, they are released from the perpetual loop of time. On the other hand, in the stories where there is a strong emphasis on time, “In the Penal Colony” and “A Hunger Artist”, the calculated measurement of time and its importance to the protagonists reveals the characters need for control of their lives. Ultimately, when this structure of time is lost, the protagonists’ inability to cope is what leads to their untimely deaths.
In “The Country Doctor”, there is constant temporal disorder. To begin, Kafka writes the story as one continuous paragraph, which mimics the illusion of an expeditious dream when read. The country doctor’s need to always be in a different place coupled with the lack of transitions in Kafka’s writing can be seen as dream-like logic. In addition, the story itself switches between the past