Good And Bad


Good And Bad Essay, Research Paper

In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa is alienated long before his transformation into a dung-beetle, the job that gave him no satisfaction and the family that exploited him kept him isolated from himself and society. Kafka uses Gregor to exorcize his opinions against the capitalist society that would keep down its working class. Gregor is trapped in an uncreative job that allows him no freedom, and he would like nothing more than to quit, but hi is forced to continue working so that he may bail out his bankrupt family. Kafka is very much a follower of Marx and that is the philosophy that comes through here. Gregor’s alienation due to work corresponds to Marx’s definition of work under capitalism: his work is external to the worker, I.e., it does not form part of his essential being so that instead of feeling well in his work, he feels unhappy, instead of developing his free physical and mental energy, he abuses his body and ruins his mind….(p486) The work Gregor does is merely mechanical, a means to an end, it offers him no satisfaction, and it alienates him the moment he begins. He starts locking his doors at night after having to travel, he becomes distrustful of people, and he brings these things into his home, where they separate him from his family. The only way Gregor can find happiness is through the small amount of creative work he can accomplish through carpentry. This is his true love and his one indulgence and he will do anything to protect it, and he shows when his mother and sister move to clean his room and move his furniture. He fears they will remove the picture with the frame that he made so “he pressed against the glass, which gave a good surface to stick to” (Kafka, p. 35). This is the one reminder he has left of something he truly loves and he will not let it go. Thus Kafka is trying to make the point that work must be a labor of love’ not a mechanical action performed out of necessity. Gregor’s family also contributes to his alienation, before his transformation, because it is his family’s fault that he is forced to work in such a dissatisfying position. His metamorphosis does not drastically change his relationship with his family, proof that he is alienated long before he turns into a bug. There is lack of connection before the change due to the fact that Gregor is forced to work for his family, as if he were hired help, bordering on a slave, he is the only one working before his metamorphosis, not because he is the only one able, but because the rest of the family is too lazy. This is another Marxist belief that Kafka is expressing agreement with. Gregor’s family represents the Proletariat, the upperclass, which keeps down the bourgeois, the working class, and forces them to work. This is Gregor’s relationship with his family, and it makes him hate work, resent his family, and ultimately metamorphose so he no longer has to deal with it. Franz Kafka uses Gregor Samsa to speak out against the capitalist society that be believes holds the workers down, forcing them into mindless jobs with no enjoyment. Gregor exemplifies the alienation this causes, long before his metamorphosis takes place, and he ultimately gets the best revenge, escape.

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