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Metamorphosis

“When he lifted his head a little, he saw his vaulted brown belly, sectioned by arch-shaped ribs, to whose dome the cover, about to slide off completely, could barely cling. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, were waving helplessly before his eyes.” Gregor Samsa has gone through a metamorphosis. This change has turned Gregor into a “monstrous vermin”. The anxieties, inner terrors, and cynicism, which fill Gregor’s life, are expressed by Kafka throughout the novel, metamorphosis. Franz Kafka uses these feelings as an element of Expressionism to convey Gregor’s attitudes towards his life and society. Examples depicting this element of Expressionism used in the novel are Gregor’s feelings towards his job, the effect his job has on his family, and the cruelty that his family displays.


The novel opens with Gregor in his monstrous state, late for work. He infers that his job as a traveling salesman is very consequential, yet he is growing tired and frustrated, “The upset of doing business is much worse than the actual business in the home office, and, besides, I’ve got the torture of traveling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last or get more intimate. To the devil with it all!” Gregor has a great amount of fury towards his job, which eventually led to his anger towards society as a whole. The fact that his office manager showed up at Gregor’s house plays an immense role in creating trepidation and anxieties in Gregor’s mind. Gregor feels strangled by his job and is too weak to tolerate the pressure.


In addition to the pressure created by his office manager and society, the Samsa’s, especially Gregor’s father, take advantage of him. Gregor earns the basic income to support his family. “But of course he actually could have paid off more of his father’s debt to the boss with this extra money, and the clay on which he could have gotten rid of his job would have been much closer, but now things were undoubtedly better, the way his father had arranged them.” The superficiality of the Samsa’s has put Gregor in a difficult position, which is a component causing Gregor’s metamorphosis. Gregor’s family in general, had given him the attitude he has on life. They took advantage of him to the point where he was the means of the family’s survival. After Gregor’s metamorphosis, when he could no longer attend work, his family begins to treat him as the vermin he has become. They no longer consider him as a human being, or a member of their family. Gregor seemed to be waiting for his family to give up hope in him so he could end his life. “He thought back on his family with deep emotion and love. His conviction that he would have to disappear was, if possible, even firmer than his sister’s.” Following this quotation, Gregor Samsa commits suicide. He felt he was no longer needed, as a salesman, a son and brother, or a member of society.


Were the anxieties, inner terrors, and cynicism of human life all factors expressing the metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa? Gregor died of a broken heart. His family and society had a major part in bringing Gregor to his final state. Kafka used Gregor’s metamorphosis into a vermin as an allegory for Gregor’s transformation in which he alienated himself from everything and most importantly, from himself.

 

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