Franz Kafka’s family surrounded him with more than the usual care and more or less covert admiration for his singular abilities. Kafka perceived this concern as a stifling embrace, however. He wanted to become independent from his family, longed to break out of the oppressive circle of bachelorhood, to get married, to have a family and raise children. But his attitudes on life, family, marriage and employment were at odds with the views of his parents, particularly those of his father. As a result, the relationship with his father was marked by growing incomprehension and misunderstanding. When Kafka talks about ‘Prague’ as a straitjacket from which he is trying to break free in vain, he is primarily projecting into that metaphorical description his situation within the microcosm of his family, and then everything in Prague that contributed to his situation.
Getting married, having children and enjoying fatherhood, that is, achieving things that present little difficulty to most people, seemed to Kafka the hardest things in life. He felt himself confined in the solitude of bachelorhood and was depressed at the thought he would never achieve continuity by having a child. Neither superficial relationships with the surrounding world, nor life in the community of his family, relatives, friends and colleagues could supplant Kafka’s inability to realize his vision of life. All his attempts to break out of the circle that constricted him were in vain. Being an extremely introverted person, Kafka was excessively self-critical. He would acknowledge, analyze and emphasize his faults without mercy, and display a constant tendency to underestimate himself. He was aware of his abilities as a writer but he was a perfectionist with regards to his own writings, accepting little of what he had written as passable.
The discrepancy between what the world offered Kafka and what he himself strove for was a constant source of tension. It assumed a neurasthenic form at critical moments and prevented him from doing anything at all. Nevertheless, his phenomenal analytical powers enabled him to create an existential drama out of quite banal situations in everyday life.