The language in this play is extremely irregular in the way it is put across to the audience. There are many different ways in which they use it. The language is mainly of a Gregorian rhythmic pattern (formal). The verses are carefully constructed and are not realistic in the way they are spoken. There are sections where the family speak in verse, making them more of a unit than individuals. For example, at the beginning they all speak different parts of a sentence one after the other making it a whole sentence yet said by three people.
‘Mr. S: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams . . . ” Mrs S: “He found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect . . . ” Greta: “His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before him. “‘ Although they speak as a unit, the way each character talks defines their character quite well. Mr Samsas language is of a respected manner, and maybe an old traditional man. He expects people to look up to him and tries to possess a strong leading male role. He believes in keeping up a good reputation in his area as well.
For example, “Don’t let the neighbours see – lock the doors – draw the curtains. ” And “If you behave like this, I’ll throw off my coat and stay here! ” Mrs Samsas language is motherly and vague. She comes across as a mother wanting the best for her children and wanting them to be perfect so she is quite vague about the situation, and tries to ignore it. This is shown in her language when she says things like “Poor Gregor! He must be thirsty – he’s had nothing to drink all day – I’ll give him some milk – he likes milk in the evening. [Forgetting for a moment his insect state] Oh no! Starts weeping] ” Greta’s language portrays her as a little girl type figure. She uses words such as “Eughh! He’s under the bed again! ” This is a childish type language, which is shown again when the lodgers arrive.
“What a funny face! ” It is the type of language that’s innocent and has been touched by no evil. Gregor’s language determines him to be a boring person with an uninteresting life. In the beginning he talks about his work, what time he catches the trains etc. And at the beginning of the feeding scene he says he likes milk. I like milk in the morning – it’s my favourite drink” This is an unnecessary fact yet he says it with sincere interest. So from this piece of knowledge, he appears to us as a simple person. There is a lot of emotion in the language sometimes it is hidden but sometimes it is openly expressed. It is well hidden when the family are talking like a clock because it sounds false to the audiences’ ear.
They let out their feelings in short words at one point. Perhaps a sign of desperation, telling us what Gregor means to them and why they cant lose him. Gregor! Cash! Gregor! Shoes! Gregor! Cigars! Gregor! Food! Gregor! Food! Gregor1 Beer1 Gregor! Clothes! ” If they lose him they lose all of the luxuries or necessities in life. It gets across to the audience quite well in snappy words, which is why I think that this is an effective way to get a point across. The end of the play is where most emotion is shown. The characters don’t act as one and each let out their feelings openly. Greta sounds older when she says her speech for the amount of emotion and expression of feelings.
We must get rid of it – I won’t utter my brother’s name in the presence of this creature – so all I say is get rid of it. We’ve tried to look after it and to put up with it as far as is humanly possible – I don’t think anyone would reproach us in the slightest” When she says this, you suddenly realise that the characters do have true deep feelings. As the play is total theatre, they use a lot of sounds to relate to the actions they are doing. These are onomataeopea, which mean that the words sound like the sound. Some of the language is spoken in third person narration.
A character can be talking, and then he’ll just start talking about himself in the past. For example, at one point, when Gregor has been forced back into his room for the first time, Gregor says “Gregor was quite unpractised in walking backwards and he was afraid of annoying his father even further by the slowness of such rotation. ” Mr. S: “His father for his part had no intention of making things easier by opening the door – but nevertheless wanted him out of the room as soon as possible” Then the speech returns to the present.
This is a sort of distancing effect. The characters talk about who they are playing to remind the audience that they are in a story. There is a lack of compassion in the language. Characters are cold in the way that they speak or react to each other, compared to a normal family, they don’t touch or hug, they don’t tell each other that they love them, even when times are hard. Meal times are quiet with the odd word spoken now and again. It makes the audience feel that there is a lot of tension in the room, of which there may be at the table.
Even though there is a lot of tragedy in the play, there is also some comedy in the language. The lodgers for example are very funny. They use language that we don’t understand such as ‘Coprolitic, mephitic, pestilence, dysentery, cankered and decrepit. They say them one at a time, one after the other as well, which makes it extremely funny to listen to. The final moments are the most touching throughout the whole play. The language they use is really dramatic as explained above. It reflects the kindling of his young spirit.