Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

In the novella, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, a story about a young man named Gregor who was alienated from his job, his humanity, his family and even his body. Gregor barely notices his metamorphosis into a bug; life remained the same for him. After the metamorphosis, Gregor feels completely alienated from his room and environment, a symbol of this was through him being unable to see the street through his window. The metamorphosis is a powerful indictment of alienation brought by the life of Gregor. Franz Kafka’s novella has a thematic concern on the effects of alienation caused by friends, colleagues, family and Gregor himself.

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First, we look at the people around Gregor, his colleagues, acquaintances and friends. The cook, she is filled with fear at the thought or sight of Gregor. Another is the maid, Anna who is not fearful of him but chooses to keep her distance and requests to be in the kitchen while the door is locked whenever she is not needed in the rest of the house. From the house keepers we can see that they try to stay away from Gregor, to alienate him from them, for reasons of fear. Another is the depth of response from Gregor’s Office Manager, he shows up at the Samsa house asumming the worst, that he has ran away with money from the job. When in fact, he displays fear and repulsion in the reaction of “Oh,” when he saw Gregor, he then leaves the house. What I have seen from these three characters they are not close to him. They either have a reaction of fear or disgust. They represent the type of people that naturally fear or look down on someone who is different, so they simply alienate what they see, Gregor.

Secondly, we will look into the family’s reaction, which is different from those who do not know him; the alienation is on a deeper level. His mother is kindest to him, her initial reaction to seeing Gregor transform was fear, however, over time her fears turns into worry. Gregor’s sister treats him the best because she is willing to bring him food, play the violin for him, and clean his room however; this changes in the end of the novella. Finally, Gregor’s father has not only fear towards him but hate as well. This is shown when he sees Gregor he assumes Gregor has done something wrong and looks to punish him, he looks down on Gregor. Another time was at Gregor’s death when his father said, “Thanks be to God.” As you can see, there are many different reactions from each family member, though; they do make assumptions all together as well. The Samsa family fears him, but unlike others, they have come to hate him for the burden he has caused them. His family alienates him for being different and come to look down at him because he has made their lives harder.

Thirdly, before and after the metamorphosis, Gregor Alienated himself; prior to the metamorphosis, he did not have much of a social life; he buried himself in his work. Even after the metamorphosis, he still does things from a distance. When he discovers what happened to himself in the beginning of the novella, he did not call out for help, all he thought about what work. He continues to hide away from others and slipping beneath sheets or underneath the couch when someone enters the room. Gregor’s own fear and self-doubt alienated him.

In conclusion, perhaps the greatest consequence of Gregor’s metamorphosis is the psychological distance between Gregor and with those around him. It has made him emotionally separate from his family member, humanity and even himself; he even refers to it as his “imprisonment.” Gregor had become totally isolated from everyone around him, including those people he cares for like Grete and his mother. Alienation is a key theme depicted in the life of Gregor. Franz Kafka’s novella has a thematic concern on the effects of alienation caused by friends, colleagues, family and Gregor himself.

The Metamorphosis Themes. (n.d.). Study Guides & Essay Editing. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from The
Metamorphosis: Theme Analysis. (n.d.). Novelguide. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from Franz Kafka the Metamorphosis. (n.d.). by Wendy Brumback. Retrieved November 4, 2013, from Eggenschwiler, David. “The Metamorphosis, Freud, and the Chains of Odysseus.” Modern Critical Views Franz Kafka. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea, 1986.199-219. Greenberg, Martin. “The Death of an Outcast.” Readings on The Metamorphosis. Ed. Hayley Mitchell Haugen. San Diego: Greenhaven, 2002. 62-73. Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” Literature An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. 10th ed. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson,2007. 317-347.

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