Franz Kafka's Metamorphisis

Franz Kafka's Metamorphisis

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Gregor Samsa awakes one morning to discover that he has been transformed into a repugnant vermin. One may never know what initiated this makeover, but the simple truth is that Gregor is now a bug, and everyone must learn to live and move on in this strenuous situation. In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the characters that interact with Gregor, including his mother, his father, and his sister Grete, must come to terms with his unfortunate metamorphosis, and each does so by reacting in a unique way. Gregor’s family members are constantly strained by this unusual event, and all three of them are pressed to their breaking point.
Gregor Samsa’s mother, whose name is never revealed, is a physically and constitutionally weak woman. She cares dearly for Gregor which is first shown by her distress as Gregor does not wake up at his usual time. It is evident that Gregor’s mother has the hardest time coping with his transformation. She can not bear to lay eyes upon Gregor. Though she has trouble adjusting, she doesn’t stop loving her only son. As Gregor’s mother and sister begin to move furniture out of his room, his mother stops to contemplate whether this is the right course of action. As Sheldon Goldfarb states in his critical essay, “When his mother and sister start removing his furniture, his mother's second thoughts provoke him to resist: he does not want to give up his human past and the possibility of returning to it” (Goldfarb). On the outside, Gregor’s mother reacts with repulsion at the sight of the bug, but on the inside still cares deeply about her son underneath. Gregor is able to see this and it gives him new hope.
Mr. Samsa, Gregor’s father, whose failed business has cast him into a lifestyle of weakness and despair, reacts very distinctively to the metamorphosis. At first, Mr. Samsa, after his initial shock, seems to be the least affected by Gregor’s nauseating state. It seems that Mr. Samsa feels that he must protect the rest of his family from this abomination living in his flat. Unlike his mother and sister, Gregor’s father no longer recognizes Gregor as his son. This is made clear when Mr. Samsa attacks Gregor by pelting him with apples; the catalyst that ultimately led to the death of Gregor.

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Anger is not the only reaction that comes from Gregor’s father: Since Gregor can no longer work, Mr. Samsa is force to return to the working world. Though it appears a burden, this enables Gregor’s father to become the man he once was. Mr. Samsa is endowed with a “new sense of strength and purpose”, which allows him to fulfill pieces of his life that he had once lost (Klingenstein). This reaction is different from that of Mrs. Samsa, for he gains a sense of accomplishment, where as she only gains more stress. This metamorphosis that Mr. Samsa went through even caused Gregor to think, “was this really his father?” (Kafka 20). Each family member is left with more weight on their shoulders, but Gregor’s father is able to react in such a way that not all results are bad.
Perhaps the most explored family member, Gregor’s sister Grete is a young ambitious girl who copes with Gregor’s change in a curious manner. From the beginning, Grete assumes all responsibility for Gregor. She takes it upon herself to feed him, clean his room, and decipher his needs. Grete became very possessive and somewhat crazed about role as Gregor’s caretaker. She asserted that cleaning Gregor’s room was for “her and her alone”, and once after her mother had cleaned his room, she “broke into convulsive tears” (Kafka 24). When the financial situation forces Grete to get a job, she becomes a bit lax in her care for Gregor, which leaves him feeling depressed and angry. Unlike her mother, but like her father, Grete becomes a stronger individual over the course of the entire ordeal. Toward the end of their trial, Grete can no longer handle the stress and is strong enough to tell her parents that they must get rid of that creature who is no longer Gregor. When Gregor is finally dead, and they Samsa’s begin to move on, one can see that Grete has also gone through a metamorphosis. Through all of her trials and tribulations, Grete has “blossom[ed] into an attractive young woman ready to find a husband” (Heller). She takes time to manage the circumstances of Gregor and Grete’s reaction itself is a living transformation.
Gregor Samsa is transformed into a big bug and there is no reason why, and so one deals with it. Mr. Samsa, Mrs. Samsa, and Grete Samsa must also handle this situation, and each does so in their own, personal way. Gregor has accepted his metamorphosis and Kafka makes it apparent that the adjustment to the circumstances “must now come from Gregor’s family, not from Gregor” (Roy). Each family member adjusts a bit differently. One could say that by the time Gregor dies, each family member has gone through a metamorphosis of their own.

Works Cited
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Literature Resource Center. Council Rock High School North, Newtown. 18 Dec.
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Heller, Erich. “Criticism by Erich Heller.” Galegroup (2003): 140. Student Resource
Center. Council Rock High School North, Newtown. 18 Dec. 2007.
Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.
Klingenstein, Susanne. “The Metamorphosis: Overview.” Galegroup (1994). Literature
Resource Center. Council Rock High School North. 18 Dec. 2007.
Mann, Klaus. “”Preface to Amerika”” Galegroup (1974): 133-139. Literature Resource
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Roy, Grogor. "The Metamorphosis." 15 Nov. 1999. 18 Dec. 2007
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