The Metamorphosis


The Metamorphosis Essay, Research Paper


I believe that the overall theme to the story of the Metamorphosis by Kafka concerns society?s injusticies and moralities and how they have reduced to a despicable level. Throughout the story Kafka shows how society can be split into different sections, with Gregor representing the working and useful man at the time and his family representing all the other kinds of people throughout society. When a person is no longer needed as a provider, a son, a brother or any other member of society, should he no longer be considered a human being? I think Kafka cries change in the Metamorphosis.

The story begins deceptively simply confirming a horrific event with a detached matter-of -factness. ? As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect.? The salesman who subjects himself to the relentless weakness of peddling wares to keep his family in the comfort to which they have grown accustomed suddenly finds himself transformed into an insect. He appears to accept the reality that he is no longer human with an unsettling calm, truly believing that he can still contribute to society, despite his ?differentness.? However, despite Gregor?s willingness to accept his unjust fate, he soon discovers that his family is not quite as open-minded. Because Gregor was the sole source of financial support to his family, so his sudden change has monetary implications. His father must take a job as a doorman and when that doesn?t work out, they are forced to take in boarders. These tenants treat the Samsa family as subservient, a fact that distresses Gregor: ?My, what a quiet life the family used to lead.? Gregor felt pride that he had managed to support his parents and sister Greta with such a life in a beautiful apartment. Instead of lamenting his own fate, he is thinking of how he has let his family down. Yet, they are too self-absorbed to consider Gregor?s private torment. All that mattered to the family was that Gregor was able to provide. The purpose for his existence was to serve his family. After his secret change to an insect was discovered, they realized that he was no longer of any use to the family and he was unappreciated in every way. This is made clear in the beginning of the story when Gregor wouldn?t let anyone in his room in fear that they would be horrified by his condition. He felt that everyone was angry and wanted him to get up for work, which he somehow felt that he might be able to accomplish. This is the ultimate example of the loyalty which Gregor exhibited all of his life.

After his change into an insect, Gregor presented a problem for he had no function in the family. They locked him up, imprisoning him by not allowing him out of his room. Slowly, his possessions were removed, and for some time no one bothered to clean his room. Anything that was not needed for the moment was simply thrown into his room. To them he was only a bug and not their son and brother. They chose to ignore all his good and self-sacrificing acts before the change and did not show him the respect, which he deserved. It is apparent that there were certain things within the family that Gregor?s change into a bug did not affect. Understanding Gregor was something that his parents failed to do. Relations between father and son had always been strained, as if all of Gregor?s efforts were to receive some kind of paternal approval. His mother, after speaking to Gregor for the first time after his metamorphosis did not recognize any difference in his voice. This seems strange since he himself was shocked as he heard his own voice answering hers. He knew that it was his own voice but that it had unmistakably changed drastically, suggesting that they didn?t speak often. Therefore, both before and after the metamorphosis, they continued to misunderstand Gregor. They failed to realize that, even as a bug, Gregor was still there and that he could understand everything they had to say. Thus, both before and after the metamorphosis Gregor?s loyalty was either misunderstood or unappreciated and ignored. Their total interest towards living a comfortable life made them unable to see what was happening with Gregor. Despite all his effort, they failed to realize that part of that insect that they had treated so cruelly was actually their son. The fact that they didn?t communicate well before Gregor?s metamorphosis made it even harder to find him masked as a giant insect.

Gregor?s sole loving relationship was with his sister, a violinist, whose talent had long been a source of brotherly pride. At first, she seems to accept Gregor the vermin, as if it would be merely a temporary condition. After a short time, though, she made no effort to hide her shock over his appearance: ?She actually recoiled and closed the door; an outsider might have honestly thought that Gregor had meant to ambush her and bite her?It thus dawned on him that his looks were still unbearable to her and were bound to remain unbearable.? Certainly, he thought she would see the injustice of her brother?s fate, and her sympathies would lie with him. Her outward revulsion was the most severe betrayal Gregor was to endure during his metamorphosis. During the violin-playing episode, Greta?s betrayal of her brother is final which leads to his death. He hears her playing the violin, as his transformation into a bug is nearly complete. He is drawn to the music. ? And in spite of his condition, no shame deterred him from advancing a little over the spotless floor of the living room.? In this scene she becomes an enemy: ? We must try to get rid of It..? Gregor has become an ?it? to the one person he trusted and loved. The family?s betrayal and rejection of Gregor has now come full-circle. The words and actions of his family wound Gregor more than his humiliating transformation from human to bug.

Hadn?t Gregor proven his devotion to his family time and time again by continuing with a job he despised just for their security? Was it justice for Gregor to subjugate his life for the happiness of an ungrateful family? When Gregor undergoes his metamorphosis, some justice could have been realized if his family had taken care of him with a small amount of respect that he had rightfully earned. With all hope that the family would treat Gregor?s condition with compassion lost, he loses his will to live.


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