Metamorphosis

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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The "Metamorphosis" by Kafka is an allegory showing how society and modern living "dehumanize" people. He presents this allegory by artistically showing how society abases humans to the level of an insect. His thoughts of alienation and isolation towards society are manifest in his portrayal of an insect; probably the most separated thing from the human race. Throughout the story Gregor and his father, Mr. Samsa, go through many changes, both physically, and mentally.

The story infers that Gregor was a very isolated person all his life even while he was human and alienated himself from society. ""¦on the precaution he had adopted"¦ of locking all the doors during the night even at home." This further shows his personal feelings of isolation. Kafka portrays Gregor as being so isolated from people that this eventually builds up and Gregor is completely alienated and isolated from the human race by being turned into a bug.

His metamorphosis to a bug is both gradual and sudden. His physical appearance changes suddenly overnight into a giant bug. This alienates him from the human race; however his family still sees him as their Gregor. His speech as a bug is a sudden but more gradual change. At the beginning of his "bug life" he assures his mom that he is getting up and ready for work by saying, "Yes, yes, thanks Mother, I'm just getting up." The author infers here that Gregors's speech must have been semi-comprehendible, for his response was satisfactory to his mother. Soon after his speech is too distorted in bug language to be comprehensible. This is the same with his eyesight. At first it isn't too distorted but soon it becomes very fuzzy. All of his physical metamorphoses are instant, however the emotional and psychological changes are gradual and progress throughout the story. Kafka also infers that Gregor was highly respected in his household because he was the only one working to pay off the family debt. That is really the only thing for which his Father believes he is worth. He also feels that it is his responsibility to help the family and he feels an even greater responsibility to his sister's happiness playing her violin. When Gregor is turned into a bug there is no way that he can help so he cannot work anymore to pay off his father's debt. All he becomes now is a burden to the family; another mouth to feed. He feels really terrible that he cannot help out his family and is deeply troubled when Grete is not allowed to take violin lessons anymore. When Gregor is first changed to a bug his family is somewhat open to him, but as the story progresses he is isolated more and more from his family not even being able to look at them. Even his sister Grete who had cared for him so much is giving up hope and does not want to see him. His father gets really angry at this creature and throws apples at him in a rage, which eventually kills Gregor. Mr. Samsa does not see Gregor as a son anymore. The whole family comes to the conclusion that this hideous creature cannot be their very own Gregor. Therefore they leave "it" alone really to die.

The "Metamorphosis" is based on Kafka's belief that modern society "dehumanizes" people and alienates and isolates them. The way he chooses to express this in this story is by alienating a human from the human race by becoming an insect. Gregor and Mr. Samsa change greatly throughout the story. This isolation of Gregor eventually builds up to his being ultimately alienated from everything he knows.