In Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, the nature of Gregor Samsa's reality changes insignificantly in spite of his drastic physical changes. Gregor's life before the metamorphosis was limited to working and caring for his family. As a traveling salesman, Gregor worked long, hard hours that left little time to experience "life." He reflects on his life acknowledging the "plague of traveling: the anxieties of changing trains, the irregular, inferior meals, the ever changing faces, never to be seen again, people with whom one has no chance to be friendly" (Kafka 13). Gregor, working to pay off his family's debt, has resigned himself to a life full of work.
Change plays a major role in one's life. It is what makes one’s life unique and different. In the novel, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Gregor Samsa, the protagonist, initially appears as a respectful young man working as a traveling salesman to pay off his family debts and provide for his family. But then Gregor goes through a transformation that turns him into a gigantic insect. Even though Gregor’s sister, father, and mother undergo many changes, the most significant transformation that occurs in the story is the change in Gregor, from an ordinary working man to a gigantic insect. This initial transformation becomes only the first impulse, which causes a lot of changes in his external and internal world along with forcing him to adapt to his new position in the family.
Throughout the novella, Gregor’s deeply rooted sense of guilt transitions from having the power to drive his actions to merely plaguing his thoughts. Immediately after his transformation, Gregor reveals that he has to “deal with the problems of traveling, the worries about train connections, irregular bad food, temporary and constantly changing human relationships…” (Kafka 4), in his daily work. Although he appears to hate his job, Gregor does not quit, as he has both intrinsic motivation to provide and extrinsic pressure from his family to keep them afloat. Rather than reflecting on his feelings and emotional baggage attached to his job, Gregor focuses on grievances set in reality, and allows this to occupy his conscious mind. After Gregor’s transformation, his
Gregor’s role in his family characterizes him as an altruistic individual whose nature made him ignorant to his family’s manipulation. Gregor endures most of his hardships without complaint and puts the needs of his family firmly above his own. Upon realizing his transformation at the beginning of the novella, his first thoughts were not of alarm but of great concern about being late to work because it is his only means of taking care of his family (Kafka 6). After his father’s business failed, Gregor “work[ed] with special ardor” (27) doing laborious work as a traveling salesman, not only to “pay off [his] parents’ debt”(4), but to also spend what little money he has to give Grete the opportunity to perform violin professionally (26). With all these responsibilities, it’s inevitable for Gregor to be under great stress, which can infer that Gregor’s transformation is a result of his willful desire to escape the pressures his overburdened life. Gregor struggled between remaining a steadfast provider or following his desire for independence, however, his metamorphosis freed him from a job he detests. Now that it is impossible for Gregor to work, Mr.Samsa reveals that “he possessed more money than Gregor knew about” (#). This is a significant event where Kafka uses the motif of betrayal to emphasize the corruption in familial infrastructure represented through Gregor’s sacrifice and interaction with his family, as well as to socially comment about how people in society use
Since Gregor put so much of his energy towards his family’s well-being rather than his own, he never formed a unique identity. After waking up as a cockroach and regretting that he wouldn’t be able to attend work, he thinks of his unhappy work life and says, “If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I would have quit long ago” (4). In sacrificing the time that he spends at work to support his family, Gregor shows the lengths he is willing to go to allow his family to survive. Gregor recognizes that his work is uninteresting, but he decides it is more important to support his family than to follow his own desires, essentially letting his parents control his life. Another example of Gregor admitting to putting his parents’ needs above his own is when he admits that a lot of his unhappiness comes from the fact that he is just a subordinate of the boss and he has no real power. As a travelling salesman, all he has to do is go from door to door trying to sell items that people don’t want. As Gregor continues to think about his life at work after his transformation, he recognizes: “He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone” (5). Gregor sees that he is lacking “brains or backbone”, which is recognition that he does not need individuality to perform his job. However, after his transformation, his lack of a “backbone” is externalized since, as a cockroach, he literally lacks a backbone. Gregor can see that he is a drone, since
Ralph Freedman’s critical essay titled “Kafka’s Obscurity” on Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis delves into the idea that from changes in the protagonist’s physical limitations, familial bonds, and his being “[he] is finally reduced to a mere speck of self-awareness which is ultimately extinguished” (Freedman 131). General questions of “why” and “how” are almost immediately dismissed due to the calm and monotonous tone that Kafka implements throughout the novel. Instead, the reader is encouraged to ponder the consequences of separating one’s mind from their body, in particular, how long can their humanity stay intact when the rest of them is replaced. Freedman reveals the “paradoxical” (Freedman 131) nature of The Metamorphosis in which the demise of one’s life may also be blissful release, especially when the individual in question was arguably inhuman to begin with. The transformation itself is emphasising the character’s current dejection and is highlighted by the transformations mirrored in the family as well.
In every aspect of Gregor’s life, each and every man living in the present right now can share the same frustration and tiredness of a long painful day. Gregor was a commercial traveler, which for him was a sufficient enough paying occupation that allowed his family to live off satisfied. Having this career which is quite exasperating, from selling house to house, resembles the hard working men that deserve more than what they have. They way that Gregor took responsibility as the breadwinner shows how he was just another man trying to survive in his overwhelming era.
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 became cohesive and productive in society, each contributing through work and leisure. Gregor learned 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 crawling up to the ceiling and hanging from there, or from wall to wall over the various objects, this gave him a feeling of “almost happy absent-mindedness” (32). Haven given up any hope of returning to his human form or being a civilized working part of society ever again, this was one of the only joys Gregor had left in his life. By ignoring the purpose of being an
Once I’ve got together the money to pay off the parent 's debt to him— that should take another five or six years—I’ll do it for sure. Then I’ll make the big break.”(pg.5) In other words, Gregor is working so much for his parents and the debt that he needs to pay off. As a result of that, Gregor is overworked, he never really goes out, and spends his time reading the newspaper or looking at the bus schedule. Kafka writes, “The young man has nothing in his head except business. I’m almost angry that he never goes out at night. Right now he’s been in the city eight days, but he’s been at home every evening. He sits there with us at the table and reads the newspaper quietly or studies his travel schedules.” (pg. 15) Gregor has lost his sense of humanity and spends his time thinking about business. He has also lost all sorts of creativity he had before he started working so much. He is pretty much used to a routine based lifestyle, which lacks creativity because he has a set schedule that he follows almost everyday. This resulted into his metamorphosis. His parents relied on him to work so much, they forgot that Gregor is human just like themselves. Gregor is human who needs basic human essentials. Like going out with his friends, relaxing, and learning to appreciate the things and people around him. He could not do so because he was stuck paying off debt with a job that he hated.
Change is unavoidable and inevitably in every moment of our lives. In every second of our lives, changes appear and disappear, impacting our lives. Humans perceive change differently and it reveals the true nature of our heart. It is due to the dissension of change between humans that determines the differences in our individual perceptions. In the novel, “ Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, the word change is taken to a entirely absurd degree as the main protagonist, Gregor Samsa is illogically transformed into a bug. Although Gregor’s thoughts still shown traces of his human self, Gregor’s family is unable to cope with his hideous form and isolates him from their world. Once perceived as the breadwinner of the family, Gregor is now seen
Many views of existentialism are exposed in Kafka's Metamorphosis. One of these main views is alienation or estrangement which is demonstrated by Gregor's relationship with his family, his social life, and the way he lives his life after the metamorphosis. Namely, it suggests that man is reduced to an insect by the modern world and his family; human nature is completely self absorbed. Kafka reflects a belief that the more generous and selfless one is, the worse one is treated. This view is in direct conflict with the way things should be; man, specifically Gregor should be treated in accordance to his actions. Gregor should be greatly beloved by his family regardless of his state. This idea is displayed in three separate themes. First,
I originally pictured the choice that Gregor chose to work is because of the feudalistic ideas of his family, and the rule of the society makes the difference in individual self awareness. However through our class discussion surrounding the time and place matters, i realized that the Gregor felt he has to work because he lives in that area that makes him think it is his responsibilities to labor for his family. While we researched the background information about Franz Kafka, we come to the result that the reason why Gregor doesn't like to work, it is because in the period of Kafka exist, and where he wrote the book, which is limited by the rule of society and the rigorous control from his father.
‘The Metamorphosis’ by Franz Kafka, the composer of the novel, explores the relations between an outsider and an insider, and Gregor Samsa’s relationship with his family, gradually following up on how Gregor decided to become an insect that he was physically being seen as, although he had been psychologically/ mentally been feeling like an “insect” for a while now. Gregor allowed himself to transition into an insect, as he chose he would let his family affect his personal happiness. Subsequently, he made the choice to become accustomed to the routine of the life he was living, to exclude and suppress himself from all persons and things, and to become fully focused on his job and his duties, despite the fact that he despised it so much. Gregor wanted to believe that he was in full control of his own life and emotions, when he only allowed his family to affect him thoughts and progression, similarly just like Kafka’s did as well as confiding to become an insect
In “The Metamorphosis,” Kafka uses Gregor’s conditioned and illogical thoughts to convince people to look outside of the systems they often find themselves in, even if the system itself is immoral. For example, the culture of work generally relies on a person’s desire to be accepted and not to be looked down upon. People are brought to believe that the differences between them and animals lie mainly with the fact that human beings have built themselves based on logic, which has given rise to the languages and symbols that are unique to them. To be preoccupied with the external environment as opposed to the skills useful in work is to be in touch with the beastly base that makes up all animals. In a way, Gregor feels ashamed of being so sensitive to music because he views that as a sign that he is not only a beast on the outside, he
If we could remember our worst nightmares and then read a Kafka story they would not be too different. Kafka an author in midst of the modern era, created a new category called ‘Kafkaesque’ to denominate everything that used a ‘nightmare like’ feeling to describe common modern era inquiries. Kafka’s horrific and saturated way of portraying his feelings is unique since it can condense and expose these modern problems clearly even to an uninformed person, like fragmentation.