Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis

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“What has happened to me? he thought.”(Kafka, 495) This quote is from the narrator in Kafka’s tale; The Metamorphosis, when Gregor Samsa wakes up and finds himself turned into a giant insect, and it was apparently not a dream. Gregor was a traveling salesman, he hated his job, but he was forced to stay in that business in order to pay his father’s debts to his boss, and maintain a comfortable lifestyle to his family. Kafka presents the metamorphosis event in an interesting way, when it seemed that Gregor was not shocked by the transformation, causing a little mystery, especially that Kafka did not provide any events prior to the metamorphosis scene. Several themes emerge in the story; however they all contribute to the main theme of alienation. The effect of financial pressure on social life, the struggle to satisfy family duties and the struggle for freedom; are all “secondary” themes that contributed to generate the “primary” theme of alienation.
In the average family, parents try to recognize their children and treat them all equally, but that was not the case with the Samsas, where they recognized their son Gregor no more than a source of income. When Gregor was not able to work anymore after the metamorphosis, the family rejected his existence as a bug and he was neglected and treated with cruelty. The effect of financial pressure on Gregor’s social life took place before the metamorphosis, because Gregor has devoted all his effort and time into his job to serve the family’s needs, in the meantime he ignored his social life, which lead to an extreme sense of alienation. From a personal interpretation, Kafka tries to present Gregor as a frustrated building block of the bureaucratic system, which leads to the belief that Kafka was criticizing bureaucracy and prove that it is alienating on a much larger scale than one person; rather it could alienate an entire society or even a nation.
After the metamorphosis, Gregor becomes useless to the family, he is alienated in his room where he could not be seen by anyone, and the only person who was able to go in and out of his room was his sister Grete, where she used to go in to bring food and clean the room. The family realized that their work horse does not exist anymore, so they all begin working, and therefore their interactions with each other decre...

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... “We can thank God for that!” (Kafka, 530).

Without doubts, before the metamorphosis, Gregor was alienated from many aspects of his life, including his own body; that’s why his transformation was almost no surprise to him. After the metamorphosis, Gregor was alienated from everything around him, even his room; Kafka symbolizes that by the hospital across from his window that he could not see after the metamorphosis. Kafka was brilliant in the sense that all the themes in the story led to the same outcome, which is the theme of alienation…

List of Work Cited
• Kafka Franz. “The Metamorphosis”. Short Fiction: An Introductory Anthology. Ed: Gerald Lynch and David Rampton. Canada: Nelson, 1992. 494 - 532
• “Franz Kafka.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. 1998. “KAFKA, Franz.” Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. World Almanac Education Group. 2000.
• “Metamorphosis by Kafka.” http://www.vr.net/~herzogbr/kafka/meta09.html
• 1st Feb. 2005 @ http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/metamorph/
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