Metamorphosis - Kafka

Essay by msn22College, UndergraduateA-, September 2007

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Alienation is defined as a feeling of being isolated or withdrawn, or of not belonging to or sharing in something; also a psychological condition in which somebody comes to feel divorced from the objective world or parts of his or her own personality or feel that he or she is unreal. Suppose all that you have always valued in your life was shown to be an illusion. What if your precious beliefs, maxims, platitudes, and traditions were inverted and distorted beyond recognition? You suddenly realize that what is good is bad; what is beauty is foul; what is virtue, vice. Suppose that this transformation, a metamorphosis of perception, were to come to you and you alone. Suddenly you awake, and in utter solitude you discover that your values have reversed along with you: you are a roach!" Your world is abruptly and totally changed! This is Gregor portrayed in Kafka'sThe Metamorphosis.

Gregor is a traveling salesman, and over time his continuous obsession with his job seems to dehumanize him and make him less personal, but more mechanical. He develops "a prudent habit [...] acquired in traveling of locking all doors during the night,” which he brings back into his home, emphasizing the distance between him and his family. We are made to realize, however, that he hates his job. He describes it as "exhausting...irritating work,” and he hates having to travel so much, meeting acquaintances that never become friends, and being mistreated by his boss. He only stays in this position to alleviate his parents' debts, and dreams of the day he can finally quit and do something more satisfying. Because Gregor can no longer work, he is alienated from the money driven economy that he lives in, where the norm is that if you are unproductive you...