“The Metamorphosis” is a novella whose storyline revolves around the transformation of a man named Gregor Samsa. The latter’s transformation is unexpected, and thus, comes as a surprise not only to his family members but also his boss and workmates. The man’s body changes to an insect-like feature, which scares his parents, sister, as well as boarders who were rented the apartment (Kafka 1). Gregor’s transformation has negative implications for the family; the family faces financial constraints as Gregor no longer provides financial support and are also tired of handling Gregor in his new condition. At some point, the family wishes that Gregor could leave them, and this comes to pass when Gregor dies. Kafka’s main purpose in writing the story is to show the challenges or difficulties that people face in the modern society. In addition, he uses the story to indicate people’s struggle for acceptance by members of the society when in need. Primarily, Kafka reflects upon the negative aspects of his life, both physically and mentally. The weak relationship between Gregor and his father in the story resembles that between Kafka and his father in real life. The transformation, which makes Gregor go extinct, resembles the extinction of Kafka in real life.
“The Metamorphosis” explores and addresses numerous questions about human nature. There have been debates, questions, and concern regarding who between people and animals exhibit humanity; these are explored in this text. In his normal condition, Gregor provided financial support to his family members and was also close to Grete to an extent that he wanted to enroll her for violin classes (Kafka 3). After his transformation, Gregor’s humanity is exhibited because he had thoughts of enrolling Grete for violin classes and was also worried about the financial challenges that the family faced as a result of his condition. Conversely, his family members turned against him, and this is evident when his father chases him from the living room with a cane. Grete also gets bored of taking care of Gregor in his insect-like condition and wishes that he had gone away willingly and left them without problems. Thus, it is seen that human nature can be influenced positively or negatively depending on the challenges or motivational factors at hand. In the story, the human nature of Gregor’s family members was affected negatively by the fact that he had transformed into an insect-like creature.
Kafka’s story also explores various assumptions about family and its responsibility to its members. In the beginning, the story makes an assumption that interdependence is a necessity in families, and this is highlighted by the fact that Gregor provided financial support to his family given that they were unemployed. The story also makes an assumption that the demise of a family member marks the onset of troubles for an entire family. Gregor’s transformation causes confusion and endless trouble for the family members. In fact, Grete’s dream of enrolling for violin classes was crashed after Gregor’s transformation. Regarding a family’s responsibility to its members, the story makes an assumption that family members have the responsibility of taking care of one another despite the difficulties or challenges that one of them faces (Bloom 97). This is seen in Gregor’s situation where Grete tirelessly cares for him by feeding him and cleaning his room. Upon realizing Gregor’s playfulness, Grete removes furniture to provide enough space for him despite strong opposition from their father.
Gregor’s metamorphosis and the way the family treats him have various consequences. The metamorphosis has kept Gregor away from work, and thus, he cannot provide for his family like before. As a result, the family faces a difficult financial situation prompting their father to seek employment despite his unhealthy condition. Besides, Gregor’s metamorphosis results in his mother passing out on several occasions worsening her asthmatic condition. Gregor’s insect-like nature scares away boarders who are an alternative source of income for the family, and this means that the family’s financial troubles are far from being addressed. Moreover, Gregor’s metamorphosis results in conflict among the members of the family. At some point, Grete says that the family should ignore Gregor, but the mother disagrees claiming that he is her son and she is responsible for taking care of him. The family’s treatment of Gregor results in death, and although it comes as a relief to them, the fact that they have lost an important member of the family remains (Kafka and Helmuth 167).
The text defines key concepts, such as family, love, responsibility, and humanity. The family concept is defined as a unit where interdependence and cooperation are essential, as highlighted by the fact that at some point, the members depended on Gregor, and this was later shifted to their father after Gregor’s transformation. The concept of love is defined when Grete takes care of Gregor after his transformation. It is also defined when Gregor comes up with the decision of enrolling Grete for violin classes. Responsibility is defined when Mr. Samsa has to find employment to provide for his family after Gregor’s transformation. The text defines the concept of humanity when Grete feeds Gregor despite his condition (Kafka and Helmuth 170).
Gregor’s transformation is an indication of the unexpected things that happen to people in real life. For instance, a healthy person can have an accident, which could change his/her life completely. Gregor becomes a dung beetle, which is a friendly insect that is often ignored despite the contribution it makes towards the decomposition of dung. Kafka has Gregor become a dung beetle to drive home the point that little organisms are often ignored despite their significant contributions to the society.
Gregor’s point of view is that his family members do not appreciate his previous efforts of providing financial support. In the story, Gregor is determined to rid his family of his presence because they are bored and unappreciative of his existence in the family (Kafka and Helmuth 171). In fact, he dies as extraordinarily as he seeks to rid his family of his presence.
The way Gregor’s family responds to his situation does not show integrity or communal coexistence. For instance, his father chases him around every time he comes to the living room. Besides, at some point, Grete is bored of taking care of him and wishes he had left them earlier.
In conclusion, if an individual is put in a similar situation as Gregor’s family, it would be right for him or her to make an effort of taking care of Gregor. This is because, before Gregor’s transformation, he was an important member of the family, and thus, should not be ignored or despised. Upholding the values of integrity and community would influence an individual’s decision of showing concern and taking care of Gregor.
Bloom, Harold. Franz Kafka’s the Metamorphosis. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism, 2008. Internet resource.
Kafka, Franz, and Helmuth Kiesel. Kafka’s the Metamorphosis and Other Writings. New York: Continuum, 2002. Print.
Kafka, Franz. The metamorphosis. Modern Library, 2013.