The Metamorphosis by Kafka

Essay by impossiblesnadaHigh School, 10th gradeA+, April 2004

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From Despondence to Death

In The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Gregor Samsa transforms from a businessman into a human-sized, beetle-like creature unexpectedly overnight. His family finds him to be grotesque, and they immediately shut him out of their lives. Gregor's physical metamorphosis embarrasses his family, creates a barrier that forces him into a prison-like isolation, and brings about his despondence and death.

As a beetle, Gregor feels the need to hide from his family in order to be with them without frightening them. "And not without a slight feeling of shame, he scuttled under the couch..." (23). Gregor sentences himself to a whole night there, despite hunger pangs. His terrorizing characteristics trigger the alienation which he encounters from his family. Similarly, an inmate may be labeled as an outcast of society for a crime that was unintentional or not committed at all. Gregor's couch resembles a prison cell, depriving him of sight, movement and communication with his family.

During his life as an imprisoned beetle, Gregor, although remembered as a family member, is referred to only as an outsider whose life has been overtaken by a revolting creature. Out of devotion, his family is forced to co-exist with him despite his appearance, but they cannot help but ostracize him. "It was the commandment of the family duty to swallow their disgust and endure him, endure him and nothing more" (40). Prior to Gregor's death, the family lives in embarrassment and disgust. After his death, Gregor's family is "completely filled with warm feelings" and "new dreams" (58) of a peaceful life without his wretched figure constantly haunting them. The family excommunicates Gregor, which depresses him and accelerates the process of his death. The less time that he lives, the less time Gregor's family will have to dwell in disconcertion and...