An Analysis of “The Metamorphosis”
A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteedOrder Now
The Transformation of Gregor’s Family :
An Analysis of “The Metamorphosis”
In Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella “The Metamorphosis,” is about betrayal and humiliation of an individual by his family. Gregor Samsa is a young traveling salesman who spends his life working in order to support his family. One morning, he wakes up and finds himself transformed into a gigantic vermin (Kafka 3).At first, he tries to remain calm and go back to bed. However, his transformed body prevents him from getting comfortable; he thinks it is because of his demanding job. When his family discovers about his change, his father is the first who shoves him back to his room.
From the text you can see that the existence of Gregor’s family rests solely on his shoulders, just as a queen bee relies on the worker bees. As the metamorphosis occurs, each member of the family has different reactions and deals differently with the change. Immediately, after Gregor’s transformation, we start to see how selfish his father, his mother, and his sister are. Gregor becomes dependable and his family goes back to work (like the worker bees). The Metamorphosis Of Gregor’s Father
Throughout the first chapter of The Metamorphosis, Gregor and his father shows a weak relation between each other. They are the two characters that most directly contrast with each other. One critic, Ramon Mendoza G. argues is if everything narrated in the story is, according to Kafka’s “Einsinnigkeitsprinzip,”merely the protagonist’s perspectival view of things, then the bug is unquestionably the protagonist’s self-image (which is not just his fancy, but hard reality). The protagonist sees himself as what he has actually become, a dung beetle. The only one in the story who treats him, as one would expect an intrusive, gigantic dung beetle to be treated, is the father.
By this token alone, father and son are placed in a special, indeed a truly unique antithetical relationship, where the extreme vehemence of the father’s rejection can be only the dialectical counterpart to the extreme vehemence of the son is yearning for him. If the despicable dung beetle is the self-image of the protagonist, the figure of the forbidding father is nothing other than the protagonist’s father-image. The negative father-image is forbidding and uncaring only to the degree, which is in direct proportion to the positive, loving, caring father the son had hoped for and expected (Mendoza 2011 The first evidence that Mr. Samsa is uncaring for his transformed son is in the following passage: At any event, Gregor had to tell himself that he could not keep up this running around for a long time, because whenever his father took a single step, he had to go through a large number of movements. Further running away was useless, for his father had decided to bombard him with apple.
One apple, thrown weakly, grazed Gregor’s back and slid off harmlessly. But the very next one that came flying after it literally forced its way in to Gregor’s back (Kafka 29). Something about Gregor’s bombardment is significant in the story. The fact that, Gregor is the source of the family’s financial stability instead of his father; Gregor’s father puts stress on their relationship and pressures him to do everything right so that the family can pay off the debt. Now that Gregor’s metamorphosis occurs, he is no longer capable of working and cannot bring money in the house. Therefore, he is worthless in his father’s eyes, as well as a huge deception. He doesn’t even care how Gregor feels nor expects to see Gregor back to normal. It seems that he would rather see his son dead than having him as a bug. Kevin W. Sweeney quotes “ The transformation is at this stage psychologically incomplete, enabling Kafka to conduct a philosophical exploration of the nature of self, personhood and identity.” (Sweeny, Kafka 140)
This is absolutely true. Gregor forgets his own existence by trying to please other. He is the one who is working, but not the beneficiary. His father is the one who has access to Gregor’s labor which is the money. After his transformation, he starts to see things differently( like a relief). He does not seem to bother about his change, but his parents act contrastingly by putting him in alienation. According to Kafka and existentialism, people have both an individual side and a side with the commitment of society. It is our choices that must be in moderation of the two, to maintain balance. If a person chooses himself over society, he will lose the support of society; however, if a person chooses society, he will lose his individuality. Gregor initially chooses society over himself, which in turn transformed him into the working drone he was. After his physical transformation, he is forced reassert his focus to himself, and society abandons him. Through Gregor’s plight, his family becomes cohesive and productive in society, each contributing through work and leisure.
Gregor learns to live for himself too late to become a whole person. Gregor begins to look for entertainment and fun in the form of a bug, a form that knows nothing but work. By ignoring the purpose of being an insect, Gregor defeats the purpose of living in his new form of life, and in effect, dies. ( http.123help.com) Gregor’sphysical appearance has changed but not the inner self. He is an insect but his humanity never disappears fully. He still has his human emotions and memories of his life as a human. Even though it’s hard for him, he still tries to adapt to his new self or to find another role within his family, which is sickened by him and embarrassed of his presence in the house. It takes him time to comprehend that he can no longer play his role in family and that he can’t even go outside in his current state. Author, Jack Coulehan writes “The Metamorphosis prevents the imminent rebellion of the son against the father.”
He also states that “some of Gregor’s changes are generated from within.” I totally support the author because it is Gregor’s weakness that leads to his metamorphosis. His family exploits that weakness and sees his predicament as an affront to them (after all, they expect Gregor to support the family). Gregor has become strong as a result of his father’s failure. He cripples his father’s self-esteem and takes over the father’s position in the family. After the catastrophe, the same sequence takes place in reverse: the son becomes weak, and the father kills him.
Change in Gregor Mother
Gregor’s mother is portrayed as a sick person in the story. Her son’s transformation forces her to go to work to make money for the family. Her relation to Gregor is one of dutiful and loving mother, but her tendency to faint upon seeing him is not conducive to helping him. After begging to see Gregor, she is finally allowed in his room, but faints as soon as he appears. Mrs. Samsa is the only person who hopes that one day her son will return to his normal shape. Also, she proceeds to save Gregor from his father’s apple-throwing wrath. Yet, since Mrs. Samsa is extremely quiet and always does what she is told, her opinions on family affairs remain unknown and her personality is subsumed in her husband’s authority.
How Gregor’s Sister Change
Traditionally, critics of Metamorphosis have underplayed the fact that the story is about not only Gregor’s but also his family’s and, especially, Grete’s metamorphosis(Straus). Nina P. Straus also states “Yet it is mainly Grete, woman, daughter, sister, on whom the social and psychoanalytic resonances of the text depend. It is she who will ironically “blossom” as her brother deteriorates.” (Straus, Kafka 127) I totally agree with the author. Gregor’s transformation also lead to his family’s change, especially his sister, Grete. As you can see in the beginning of the story, she is the only person who shows that she really cares for her brother. Since the mother cannot see Gregor in his present state; Grete takes care of her brother by bringing him food, cleaning and keeping his room tidy. As the story develops, she finds a job a cashier and starts to neglect his brother. She no longer notices whether he has eaten or not, and finally she allows Gregor’s room to become the junk room of the house. As her brother deteriorates, Grete is no longer considered herself as a seventeen years old girl; She becomes a woman. Besides her new job, she now finds other interests and pursuits in life.
Thus, Gregor is no longer important to her. She takes Gregor’s place by providing money in the house. She becomes the one who has control of everything( the boss). Her parents has to obey and do what she asks. Her role in the story is extremely important. She is the person who is taking care of Gregor, and later on, she becomes the person who pronounces her brother’s death sentence. To conclude, there is a good moral lesson in the story. Gregor’s state before he changes into a beetle contrasts with his family after they start working. The lesson is we should never work like bugs for others, while they enjoy life to the fullest. That is what happens to Gregor, he forgets his owns needs, which leads him to lose his identity. At the end of the story, we see how Gregor’s family contrast to what they were in the beginning. In a way, Gregor’s transformation and death lead to his family revival.