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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka - Essay Example

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In Kafka's The Metamorphosis, the main protagonist, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself actually transformed into a huge bug. This transformation or metamorphosis has different repercussions for him and his family, his sister in particular, and it provides a sort of release from their circumstances for both of them.


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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
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In Kafka's The Metamorphosis, the main protagonist, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself actually transformed into a huge bug. This transformation or metamorphosis has different repercussions for him and his family, his sister in particular, and it provides a sort of release from their circumstances for both of them.

All his working life, Gregor has slaved away at a job that almost dehumanized him, and has now somehow taken him over:
Oh God, he thought, what an exhausting job I've picked on! Traveling about day in, day out. It's much more irritating work than doing the actual business in the office, and on top of that
there's the trouble of constant traveling, of worrying about train connections, the bad and irregular meals, the human associations that are no sooner struck up than they are ended without ever becoming intimate. The devil take it all! (Metamorphosis, 1972 )

This job, done for the sake of paying off family debts, so eats him up that he thinks of his job first, and of his horrific bodily change later, when he discovers he is a human no more. His long denial of his human self manifests itself by changing him into an actual, human-sized vermin, but he is unable to grasp its staggering significance, worrying instead about missing work for that day. But slowly as the insect takes over the human, a sense of freedom dawns upon him, a sense of being himself without any restraints whatsoever. This expresses itself in his joy in his newly acquired insect-like abilities, that lets him hang upside down from the ceiling. As Harold Bloom puts it, Kafka "....sends Gregor across the walls to hang from the ceiling in almost blissful absorption; and we recognize in these acrobatics a new freedom even in Gregor's confinement, a feeling of release and pleasure in his inhuman agility,...." ( Bloom, 1988)

Gregor accepts his new situation more matter-of-factly than one would have thought, and so does his family, his loving sister included. He was trapped earlier, into being an isolated human being who had nothing much to with the rest of the humanity, but now, he became excluded from humanity altogether. His family is horrified by the change in him, but they almost seem to accept it as a matter of course, and almost the only emotion they consistently have towards him is a sense of the injury that he had caused them by turning into an insect. As Eric Olsen puts it, "Gregor turns into an insect as the decisive and only way to make explicit his insect-like relationship to the world he inhabits. It is no dream. But the horror of his transformation is bizarrely wedded with stolid acceptance, as if, after all, this was but nature taking its course". (Olsen, 2004).

Before Gregor's metamorphosis, his sister was a closeted woman, excessively sheltered by the parents, despite having recognizable talents. The bizarre situation with her brother actually becoming a giant bug enables her to go out and forge her own path. She transforms too, from being a protective sister to Gregor, to someone who couldn't care less and does not have to. When Gregor dies, it is through his sister's piano that his soul finds release, and begins to understand and seek human appreciation of music again, and his death is his release from his not only his last existence as a real insect, but also his former insect-like existence only as a salesman and dutiful brother and son. For his sister, his death brings her final release, and she no longer has to live with a brother steeped in self denial, or a brother turned into a monstrous insect. She finds freedom by becoming her own person, a situation unlikely had Samsa not undergone his metamorphosis, because as we know from the very beginning, he still intended to stick to the torturous job for five more years.

Samsa's death is his liberation from his physical and mental insect-like existence, and for his sister it is the moving away of something she had no wish to associate with, she reduces her brother to an "it", an insect, and goes on to make what she can with her life so as to suffer no like insect-like transformation.

Works cited

Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis. Trans. and Ed. Stanley Corngold. New York: Bantam, 1972.p.1

Bloom, Harold.(ed) Franz Kafka's the Metamorphosis. New York : Chelsea House. p.77.

Olsen, Eric. "The Labyrinth Within: Franz Kafka and the Predicament of Modern Man". World and I.

19.6. June 2004. p.22 Read More
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