“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis is a book based on Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who does a strenuous job to provide for his family. On waking up one day, he realizes he has transformed into a colossal insect (Kafka 8). His father, mother, and sister recognize something is wrong when they knock at his door and find no response. His boss also came and scolded him for being late to work and his strange behavior of not doing his duty well (Arivovna 24). When Gregor finally struggles and opens the door, his family was shocked, and his boss runs away. Change is the essence of life, and in The Metamorphosis, the theme of change is gradual to the action, verbalizing the describing of the plot and swaying the charismas’ conduct and purpose.
Gregor’s apparent appearance causes conflict between him and his dad because Gregor is no longer capable of providing money, making him a problem. Gregor is the protagonist in this story, and the antagonist is the people who excluded him and forced him into seclusion after his new appearance.
His supervisor left after seeing him like an insect, and his dad locked him in his room. His family had to struggle to find another source of money to survive, and this was not easy since his sister, mum, and dad had to work enormously challenging to provide for the family. Gregor’s sister was the only one concerned about him, and she always did her best to cater for Gregor and always ensuring his interests were met. On the contrary, his father did not care about him and was very harsh since he saw Gregor as a burden to his family. This clearly showed they were not in an arrangement, and there was some battle between Gregor and his father.
The central conflict occurs as Gregor runs after his boss, trying to explain his state but is driven back to his room by his father. When Gregor disapproved of the cabinet’s elimination in his room and decided to rebel, his father ended up wounding him by throwing apples to his back. When he decides to leave his room and lend an ear to his sister’s violin, his family resolves to eliminate him, claiming that he was frightening people away. Since Gregor is incompetent in providing for his family as he always did, this caused his father to be unable to find approaches for him. His dad had no concentration at all in helping him with his disorder and despised him, for now he couldn’t make money and pay off the family debt.
The conflict within the Metamorphosis is Gregory versus circumstance. He cannot reverse his appearance, and Gregory versus his family; his parents were very hostile.
The Metamorphosis is a novel with the central themes surrounding family duty, responsibility, alteration, separation, and seclusion. Since Gregor’s “uncanny transformation” (Krause 303-322), he could not provide any duty for his family anymore. Gregor as the sole provider of the family, cannot do anything due to his condition. His family depended on him all through, and now they have to look for other means to get the basic family needs. The theme of alteration is seen from the very beginning of the novel when Gregor woke up only to realize he had transformed into an insect. His boss ran away when he saw his transformation, and his family members isolate him.
Seclusion is also another central theme in the Metamorphosis. Gregor is isolated and neglected by his family members due to his change in appearance. He is not even allowed to interact with anyone, and his father treats him harshly. Separation, also one of the major themes in the Metamorphosis, is seen when Gregor lost touch with himself, his job, and the support of his family. When he notices his transformation, Gregor alienates himself from other human beings. The author of the Metamorphosis novel used the themes above successfully based on the facts read in the book.
In general, Gregor’s family is somewhat disgusted by his transformation. This is sad as Gregor mislays himself both substantially and sensitively. The author of the Metamorphosis was both elusive and sarcastic with his comedy in the story. His subsequent transformation from a human being to an enormous insect creates a sense of comedy in The Metamorphosis. On the contrary, it is sad that Gregor cannot do anything due to his disorder. The story is generally funny and touching at the same time. The author does not provide enough background to understand the whole event well, hence viewed unjustly as inconclusive.
This is because the portrayal of Gregor and his familial context in the book belies each other. The Metamorphosis novel antedates the period when dictatorial philosophies tried to connect the distinct to the communal needs. The people in society in which the Metamorphosis story occurs are ignorant, and they care less about Gregor. His parents isolate him, and his boss was disgusted upon seeing his new appearance. It clearly showed how hostile the people in that society were.
In the novel The Metamorphosis, the author describes his own life through the life of Gregor. The author faced seclusion and separation from his workplace and family but did not turn into a giant insect, unlike Gregor. Kafka has often felt detached from his loved ones, and faced doubts about his own life, and they have manifested in a tale about a bug-man. The difference between the two demonstrates how Gregor lacked self-respect and felt like he was a bug in the eyes of his family and society. Both the author and Gregor lacked the supremacy of character to gain against their fathers (Kafka 15-17). The Metamorphosis novel, therefore, prevents the forthcoming insurgence of the son against the father.
The central theme being family responsibility; this is common to everyone, primarily when one is grown-up and working, the family becomes dependent. I find this relevant since my own family depends on me to look after my younger siblings and provide them with basic needs. Responsibility for his family and his siblings is what initially pushes Gregor to find work, and is the driving motivation behind his life before becoming an insect.
After the metamorphosis, however, he no longer has the ability to take care of this task, due to the nature of his appearance. This, in turn, forces the family to abandon him as well, because he has served his limited purpose in the household and hinders their ability to survive. While many of Gregor’s family members want to feel sympathy for him, the reality of their life and the man-bug’s appearance does not allow for it, making the man just an obstacle on the path to stability. The mix between familial love, sympathy and repulsion is a major topic of this book, and it is felt most prominently in the relation between Gregor and his sister. The one that shows most support for the man initially is the one that gives up most quickly and proposes the family to get rid of him. To me, it feels like the book also treads on the themes of human usefulness and exploitability.
Gregor, even with his monstrous appearance, is still a person, and a part of the family. Yet, despite his status, he is being regarded with contempt now that he has practically outlived his usefulness. With having become “the other”, he is no longer worthy of consideration or basic human decency. This topic is very personally touching to me, as the feelings of having no value besides my usefulness often crosses my mind. I think that treading the line between being a good contribution to the family and a burden can be difficult, especially when the things one can do are very limited. For Gregor, becoming an insect has become his curse, a crime of an innocent monster that invertedly harmed the people he was trying to assist.
His fault as a bug was in his appearance, and he paid for it by dying. The fate of Gregor is both sad and absurd, moving an incredible, something that makes me turn to myself time and time again. I do not think the protagonist has deserved this outcome, and can’t say that I don’t dislike his family for what has happened to him, but I can understand it. Like with real live, the conflict of this story is deeply personal and unfair at its core.
The author shows us a comprehension of what kind of a connection he had with his father, but he also gives us an account of a young man, that eventually detriments every part of who he is. The author and his hero are similar in character, having both been rejected by their father figures. Gregor does everything in sacrifice while untiring his obligation to his family and his love for his sister. The author’s use of imagery, the setting of the story, and allegory bring life into this story and make us contemplate the more extraordinary depiction of what is happening in the character’s life. Gregor’s death had a figurative connotation, as it discharged his family from distress.
His family felt a sense of relief after his death because Gregor stopped being a burden. The novel tries to open up our minds and shows us the complications of living in contemporary society and the struggle for approval when in time of need.
Arivovna, Kadirova Nargiza. “Parallelism in transformation motives of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Stevenson and The Metamorphosis by Kafka.” International Journal on Integrated Education, vol. 2, no. 6, 2019, pp. 23-27.
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Modern Library Classics, 2013.
Krause, Edith H. “Aspects of Abjection in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.” Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory, vol. 30 no. 4, 2019, pp. 303-322. Web.