Theme in the Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a novella. The theme in this story is that change in one character leads to positive and negative change in other characters. Gregor Samsa, the main character changes into dung beetle. His change affects his family deeply and they make both positive and negative changes to accommodate both his change and themselves. The family resents Gregor and sees him as a burden, which is a negative change, but previously the family had relied on Gregor as their source of income.

This is where the conflict arises because now they have to learn to work for themselves instead of relying on Gregor for income, which is ultimately a great positive change.

The family’s initial reaction towards Gregor is largely extremely negative. When the family and the chief clerk, Gregor’s boss, see him for the first time they panic. Gregor is promptly shoved back into his room and he is locked there. “No one came any longer, and, in addition, the keys were now on the outside” (page 25).

This represents the family’s immediate hostility towards Gregor where as before Gregor’s family had always taken care of him. Gregor’s sister, Grete decided to at least bring Gregor some food but even then she is still frightened. “…She immediately opened the door again and walked in on tiptoe as if she were visiting a seriously ill person or even a stranger” (page 26). Mrs. Samsa asks to see Gregor but Mr. Samsa and Grete stop her. It shows that at least she has accepted Gregor’s change and wants to see him. Although the family does not react very well towards Gregor’s change his family still trys to help him.

Grete notices that Gregor is learning to move around, this is a positive change. She decided that moving furniture out of Gregor’s room would give him more room to move around, and she asks for her mother’s help. Gregor sees his mother and sister taking away the last traces of his humanity. In a plight of desperation he sticks himself to a picture on the wall. Grete is annoyed and tells him to get off, and when Gregor’s mother catches sight of Gregor she is so frightened she faints. Grete panics because she is worried about her mother, and Gregor follows her to get medicine for their mother.

In the midst of all this chaos Mr. Samsa comes home. A positive change in his appearance is seen. Gregor had seen him as “…the same man who would lie wearily, buried in bed,…who had received him wearing a bathrobe and sitting in an arm chair…”(page 37). Where as now Gregor’s father “…was perfectly erect, dressed in a tight blue uniform” (page 37). Although Mr. Samsa’s appearance and his acquiring a job is a positive change his reaction towards Gregor is negative. Gregor’s father assumed that Gregor had done something violent and he was so furious he threw an apple at Gregor. Mr. Samsa throwing the apple was also a negative change because this was his son he was injuring.

The change in the family’s behavior towards Gregor had become increasingly negative. Gregor’s mother and Grete had obtained jobs, and Gregor saw how tired and overworked the family was becoming. In the beginning Grete took careful time to feed Gregor and clean his room, but as she worked she hastily shoved food into Gregor’s room as she ran off. The bitterness of the family peaked, and Grete even wished for Gregor to die. “And therefore I merely say: we have to try to get rid of it” (page 47). Where previously Gregor had been dying physically he had accepted that he was a burden on the family and he was also dying emotionally. He accepted his face and dies peacefully. When the family finds Gregor dead they are relieved and thankful they don’t have to deal with him anymore. Gregor dying had a positive effect on the family because now they were relieved of the burden that they had been given.

The family learned how to work for themselves, yet in the process they treated Gregor poorly, the first being positive but their treatment of Gregor being negative. If one person changes it become necessary for the people around them to change as well. Often times those changes made can be positive or negative. Gregor’s change greatly affected the family and it became necessary for the family deal with the change. The changes they made were largely negative and not beneficial towards Gregor. The family was unwilling to make positive changes in their behavior towards Gregor which resulted ultimately in his death. This shows that whatever changes people choose to make, either positive or negative, the changes will always have a great effect on everyone around them.

“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

Throughout the novel, The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka, the author, demonstrates the parallel between his relationship with his family, and Gregor Samsa’s relationship with his family, in addition to how Gregor came to chose to become the insect he was physically, after having already been one psychologically. Following the existentialist theory, Gregor allowed himself to become an insect, as he chose how he would let his family affect him. Ultimately, it was he that made the choice to become accustomed to the routine of his daily life, to shell himself from all intimacies, and to become wholly focused on his job, despite the fact that he despised it.

Gregor Samsa was in full control of his own life, as he allowed his family to affect him, just like Kafka’s had, as well as consenting to become an insect.

Gregor Samsa permitted his family to mould him, in the same manner that Franz Kafka had. As previously mentioned, Franz Kafka established a similitude between the relationship with his family, and Gregor with his family.

Franz Kafka’s father, Hermann Kafka, was thoroughly disappointed with his son, as he never reached the high expectations he had set for him. This affected Franz Kafka in such a manner that he attributed his failure to live – cut loose from parental ties and establish himself in marriage and fatherhood – as well as his escape into the literary world, to the father figure. Franz Kafka himself was an introverted, shy, and quiet man, that deep inside anguished and cried for help as he sought information and understanding from the world, and for a way to believe in his own identity. This had an intense ramification on Gregor, the protagonist of Kafka’s novel.

The corollary of Kafka’s relationship with his father was portrayed on Gregor and his relationship with his father. Kafka intended to reflect the conscious decision and choice made by Gregor Samsa of being influenced by his family, by making them the next most important characters in the novel. Gregor knew right away, “from the first day of his new life that his father considered only the strictest treatment called for in dealing with him” (p. 38), much like Kafka’s father had. His father was rather tough on him, and would take no logical steps in understanding what Gregor, as a bug, did or tried to say through his actions. He would jump to conclusions the moment he saw Gregor out of his room, and start beating him with a cane attempting to lead him back to his room, or throw apples at him. This provokes Gregor to pull his self in, becoming more introverted, yet deep inside suffering with such anguish and crying desperately for understanding, much like Kafka had. This, however, was only part of what made Gregor into an insect, as his father drew out his humanity by treating him as a “monstrous vermin”.

Nevertheless, Gregor Samsa made the choice of making his family important enough for him to be influenced by them as he attempted to receive their affection and approval by working hard in his miserable job, to pay off their debt. Regardless of the horrible job Gregor had, it had become a monotonous routine, part of his daily life; and he exerted a lot of effort in it, in spite of “the torture of travelling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no relationship that last or get more intimate” (p. 4). He endeavoured himself to pay off the family debt, despite the fact that he deplored his job, and would have quit in a matter of seconds. Or as Gregor put it so eloquently, “If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I would have quit long ago (…)” (p. 4).

This only confirms and reveals that he worked with such vigour to help his family. Nonetheless, his struggle to receive his family’s love and affection was in vain, as he received nothing in return as he, when human, focused primarily on his job and his privacy, shutting himself out from his family. His family constantly took him for granted, as they never worked outside of the house, or even so much as thanked him for all his hard work, or paid him any respect whatsoever. All these factors demonstrate how he psychologically became a bug as he allowed his family to influence him by taking him for granted, as he worked genuinely hard for them, becoming as insignificant as the bug he came to be physically.

All the same, towards the end of the novel, he realized that he “was a member of the family, in spite of his present pathetic and repulsive shape, who could not be treated as an enemy; that, on the contrary, it was the commandment of family duty to swallow their disgust and endure him, endure him and nothing more” (p. 40). It was only then that he truly realized that he was merely being used for financial gain. The more serious his family became about their jobs, the less they paid attention to Gregor, as they began to exclude him from the family, until Grete finally comes to the conclusion that they should “get rid of him”.

All these factors that caused him to become a bug, had ultimately been his choice, as it was he that decided to make his family a priority, allowing them to influence him to become an insect. Kafka intentionally made it clear that it was Gregor’s choice to become an insect, and no one else’s. He had made the decision to work so hard to support his family, to protect himself from any intimacies, and to do so much and receive nothing in return. These characteristics he held of an insect could only be his with his consent, as he permitted his family, into moulding him into a creature that was no longer human.

“The Metamorphosis” written by Franz Kafka

“The Metamorphosis,” written by Franz Kafka in 1912, follows several societal patterns that are frequently observed in Kafka’s other works. The idea of growth and degradation is one of these patterns. Another is the aspect of human nature that causes deception as a defensive device. Within “The Metamorphosis” these two key patterns come together to create a story that employs magic realism and dream logic to create a drama of illness. It is said in Roy Pascal’s book Kafka’s Narrators: A study of his stories and sketches that the abstract structure of the story “forces the reader to look beyond the surface network of the story for another symbolic meaning” (39).

By taking a closer look at these two together, deeper meaning and insight is found.

The concept of degradation versus growth is central to the meaning of “The Metamorphosis.” The story opens at the beginning of Gregor’s decent to death with the climax of the story in the first sentence.

The story itself is merely the working out of the climax. Unlike some of Kafka’s other stories, “the ‘metamorphosis’ is not manifestly connected with any idea with any idea of punishment or self-punishment, but merely stated without explanation at the beginning; it is now on the punishment itself that Kafka dwells at length” (Luke 105). This punishment that Luke speaks of is that for “the unforgivable offense of self-assertion” (104) of which Gregor is guilty of when he takes over the role of breadwinner in the family. Gregor’s deterioration follows another commonly found pattern of Kafka’s stories: “the hero falls from corporal self-sufficiency to hunger and then to death and silence […]” (Thiher 40). This pattern can also be observed in Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist” and in “The Judgement.” Though at first the reader may want to interpret the metamorphosis as metaphorical, it is meant to be taken literally.

The process of Gregor’s transformation and decline to death is clearly illustrated by the division of the story into three chapters, one for each of Gregor’s outbreaks (Greenburg qtd. in Dixon 400; Luke 103). The first chapter involves Gregor’s initial loss of power and influence in the family, which is mirrored by his father’s gain in power and authority as, once again, he becomes the head of the family. Gregor’s loss of power is not only within his family but also in society as he becomes entirely disconnected and becomes increasingly reliant on his family for his survival. It seems as though the family roles are reversed after the metamorphosis takes place; instead of the family being reliant on Gregor, Gregor is reliant on his family. At the expense of Gregor’s life, the rest of his family is finally released from the chains and limitations that Gregor had imposed on them all. Gregor is unsuccessful in his attempt to communicate with his family as his fall to “verminhood” is follwed with a fall from the language that might have been able to explain the original fall (Thiher 41).

The second chapter involves the second outbreak where Gregor runs out of his room and is attacked by his fear-filled father. The apple that becomes lodged in his back further illustrates the decay that is occurring in Gregor who is now slowly starving to death as his family begins to neglect him as they all have jobs to deal with. By the third and final chapter, the family has taken on a new form. They are all working and they have taken on three boarders. Gregor’s room has become a storage room for those things that are no longer wanted, including Gregor. The third breakout occurs as a result of Grete’s playing of the violin. Ironically, it is Grete, who originally is the advocate for Gregor remaining as part of the family, who finally says that Gregor is no longer Gregor and that he must be disposed of (Kafka 407). I suppose as time progressed, she realized that if any of them were to grow and mature then they must rid themselves of everything that stands in their way (i.e. Gregor).

As a contrast to Gregor’s inevitable death is the final image of the story. The family has been transformed. From being useless and paralyzed, they become productive providers. There is a sense of revival as they begin to look to the future. The transformation of Grete is as though “[s]he awakens to her body’s sufficiency once Gregor has disappeared” (Thiher 44). As a final symbol and illustration of the significant metamorphosis and growth experienced as a result of being released from Gregor’s control, the parents decide that it is time to find a husband for their daughter (Kafka 412). The degradation of Gregor, mirrored by the growth seen in the rest of his family, is furthered by the deceptive attitudes they all take on.

As the story begins, Gregor, the person most closely affected, behaves as if nothing is out of the ordinary. Even the other characters respond as if it were a natural event, such like that he had woken with a cold or measles. According to Luke, “[this] disparity can be described in psychological terms as a defense-mechanism involving reality-denial and affect-displacement […]” (111). Thiher also acknowledges that the story is largely based on misrepresentations and deception (48). Gregor appears to have several delusions. Firstly, at the beginning of the story, he is delusional in that he thinks that his bugness is merely temporary (Kafka 377). Secondly, he views his reputation at work to be much higher than it actually is. With the arrival of the chief clerk, we, the readers, realize that he has not been as exceptional at work as he leads us to believe (Kafka 380-81). He has misrepresented his job security. He also is delusional with regard to his family’s social and monetary positions. He was under the impression that his family was unable to survive without him so when the family business failed, he assumed the position of breadwinner of the family, allowing his father to grow increasingly sedentary.

As the metamorphosis progressed, all of these delusions and self-deceptions were revealed as the deterioration of Gregor advanced and the growth and metamorphosis of his family occurred. What in fact was later discovered was that his father had a sum of money stored away and that in fact, he had retained some of the wealth of the family business and that all the members of the family were quite capable of working to make ends meet. His father had deceived him. It appears that it was all of these deceptions that transformed Gregor’s father into a judge who condemned Gregor “to disappear, to die, and to become the rubbish that the sturdy charwoman [could] discard” (Thiher 44). As he loomed over Gregor in his new uniform, Gregor recognized the transformation and began to realize his role in the subsistence of his family was quickly become inconsequential. As Gregor’s role as a member of the family dwindles, the view his family has toward him changes drastically.

When the story beginnings he is seen as Gregor, a travelling salesman but by the end of the story he is seen by his entire family as no longer being Gregor; he is seen as merely a giant bug (Kafka 407). Thiher concurs with this as he says that “[b]y applying throughout the story the kind of dream logic that allows one to be and not to be the same thing, to be Gregor and to be non-Gregor the vermin, Kafka creates the possibility for paradoxical misrepresentation at every level […]” (50). The dream logic focuses our minds on the inessential details of the story that give us a greater understanding of who Gregor was the life he faced now that he had been transformed. It seems that these small details tend to draw empathy from the reader, followed by disbelief and then laughter at the absurdity of the situation.

The laughter and comedic effects that result are also as a result of the logical inhibition that is required to follow such an absurd plot as it provides a relief of energy tension (Luke 111). “Gregor’s ‘flat’ reaction, as Kafka presents it, is horrifying because of its ‘uncanny’ psychotic […] character; because it insidiously enlarges an implied rift between daily actuality and monstrous possibility; and because it casts dreadful and tragic light on human incapacity to appreciate disaster” (111). The extent of deception that Gregor placed on himself is illustrated in his response to his new body.

He assumes his situation is a hallucination or dream and he doesn’t believe that it is actually happening to him. It seems through the family’s reactions (and Gregor’s) that the loss of his human shape is intolerable and therefore it cannot be true. This logic leads both Gregor and the rest of his family to suspend belief, continue on with life as if nothing has happened, and thus, acting as if everything is as it always was. Society in general appears to condition the members of society to respond in this way (hiding our faults and fears) so that a minimal amount of attention is drawn and we are not seen as out of the ordinary. The alterations of Gregor’s existence are seen as “purely imaginary” and Gregor believes that his “mornings delusions” will gradually disappear when he gets out of bed (Kafka 377).

He sees the strangeness of his voices as being the first sign of a cold, not as a product of his metamorphosis. By the end of the first section or chapter of the story, Gregor has almost entirely lost hope for a end to his “bugness.” It appears though that, even for his family, the disbelief and deception blinds them from seeing the truth. The Grete and Gregor’s mother believe that it is merely a temporary situation and that eventually Gregor will return to his previous state. Gregor’s father sees the “metamorphosis as something that is to be expected from Gregor” (Luke 113). Gregor attempt to rationalize his experience, “hunting helplessly for explanations of the inexplicable” (Luke 114). He views the symptoms of his situation as part of “a dream, a cold in the head, a foolish hallucination induced by pangs of conscience, [or] the magical outcome of malevolent detraction by his co employees” (Luke 115).

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” The Writer’s Path. Eds. Constance Rooke and Leon Rooke. Scarborough: ITP Nelson, 1998. 374-412.

Luke, F.D. “The Metamorphosis.” Explain to me some stories of Kafka. Ed. Angel Flores. New York: Gordian, 1983. 103-22.

Pascal, Roy. Kafka’s Narrator’s: A study of his stories and sketches. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 1982.

Thiher, Allen. Franz Kafka: A study of the short fiction. Ed. Gordon Weaver. Boston, MA: Twayne, 1990.

The Theme of Alienation in Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis”

Metamorphosis is a change in physical form or structure. In The Metamorphosis, there is a literal change in the protagonist, Gregor Samsa’s, physical form from a man to an insect. This metamorphosis brings to light one of the major themes in the novel; the theme of alienation. Today’s society demands conformity to its norms and any individual who refuses to accept these faces alienation. Such is the fate of Gregor in the story. Before Gregor’s metamorphosis, he is alienated from his job, humanity, his family, and even his body.

The metamorphosis, however, takes the alienation to a different plane. In the story, Gregor’s job precipitates his alienation from society, his family, and himself.

Gregor’s initial alienation is from his physical body and as the story progresses we find that Gregor’s life as an insect is not much different from his life as a human. From the first few paragraphs we get the impression that Gregor’s metamorphosis has only transformed him from one body to a less convenient one.

He does not seem frazzled by his transformation, but explores his new body and tries to work with it. He observes his “numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk” (Kafka, 494), he feels a “dull ache he had never experienced before” (495), and he discovers a place on his body that he cannot itch. Gregor does not seem to have any emotional change due to this transformation. This is evident when he wakes up after his transformation and is annoyed that he cannot go to sleep because he cannot turn onto his right side. He also thinks about how he can no longer attend work.

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” (Kafka, 497), 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” (495), 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 become insignificant and repulsive. Gregor’s insect form, which precludes him from earning an income to support his family, strengthens the fact that he is now repulsive in the eyes of his family and society. His value seems just to be a financial one to the extent that family relations have been reduced to economic worth.

The idea of Gregor being just a welfare source alienates him from his family. The family only cares about the pay check Gregor hands them each month. Gregor may have been slowly changing into a recluse, but his family does not notice because their interest is in his provision of funds for them. There are points in the story where his family seems to genuinely care about his life and current condition, but underlining this supposed care is the selfish desire of his family for him to continue to be the breadwinner. For example, when Gregor’s voice through the door can no longer be understood due to his insect form, his mother becomes worried and instantly sends for the doctor, probably to ensure that he is fit to be at work. However, Gregor thinks that “people now believed that something was wrong with him, and were ready to help him” (Kafka, 502).

He does not seem to understand the real motive behind his mother’s new concern, which is that he is late for work. Gregor’s family does not know that something is seriously wrong with him until he emerges from his room in a form clearly unfit for work. His father reacts at first by clenching his fists, then breaks down and weeps. His father’s reaction transition from anger to grief is the same he would likely have had if Gregor had simply announced that he had quit his job.

Gregor’s family life after his transformation does not change drastically because his loss of relationship with the members of his family is nothing very new. It only takes his alienation from them to a new level. He is now physically detached from his family as opposed to the previous emotional detachment. He is now the burden that they have been to him and he is no longer the center of attention as the breadwinner. His family locks him up alone in his own room, and his sister, under the notion of helping him in his insect form, brings him rotten food and removes the furniture in his room driving home the fact that he is no longer human. As time goes by his family slowly become strangers to him. At one point his father bombs him with apples in an attempt to kill him. Gregor realizes how alienated he is from his family when he discovers that his father has taken up the role that he played in the family. Mr. Samsa is now a bank official and dresses in “a smart blue uniform with gold buttons” (518), and Gregor’s sister gets a job, starting a new life for herself.

The family seems to move on without him and this realization brings about Gregor’s self-alienation. His sister’s disposition to him changes from being an overemotional little girl to a bitter matured stranger, the first in the family to declare that Gregor needed to be exterminated. The fact that his family wants to kill him does not shock him – his father already tries before – but the fact that his sister was the one to openly raise the idea seems to hurt him and bring about his self-alienation ultimately causing his death. Gregor realizes that since his family can no longer communicate with him they isolate him, and his transformation makes him realize that his family has always set him apart from their group of three long before his metamorphosis. Gregor dies feeling he is no longer needed, as a salesman, a son, a brother, or a member of society.

Gregor dies of a broken heart. He is ostracized by society and his family and forced to be come a recluse. His job ultimately brings about his alienation from what mattered more in life such as building a solid family relationship, having concrete friends, and finding true love. His metamorphosis brings him to his final state to realize that his life has been meaningless and purposeless.

Gregor accepts his job thinking it will lead to a more self fulfilling future. Most people experience similar disappointments in today’s pecuniary economy, building stepping stones to a rarely achieved satisfaction but forgetting the real things that matter in life. Those who do not conform to this way of life find themselves ostracized and alienated. The Metamorphosis teaches one to balance work and family relationship, and that family relationships should not entirely be tied to economic power.

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” Short Fiction: An Introductory Anthology. Ed. Gerald Lynch and David Rampton, ON: 1992. 494-532.

Isolation in The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka’s short story “The Metamorphosis” centers on the theme of isolation. In the lead character’s transformation he experiences a deep isolation towards society now. What this isolation leads to is to a series of events, that cause Gregor’s isolation to grow. Eventually isolation leads to Gregor’s death. Isolation and its after effects are the central themes involved in the “The Metamorphosis. ” Isolation is the state of an individual being separated from other individuals. Isolation involves both the mental state of an individual and the physical state of the individual.

Further isolation also involves the individual’s belief versus societies’ believes. This paper will argue that Gregor’s transformation into a bug is a symbolic representation of one’s difficulty in accepting the isolation reality. The notion of the isolation is first realized in the author’s work in section . The reader can see that Gregor’s isolation started before the transformation occurred when Gregor mentions “That’s all I’d have to try with my boss; I’d be fired on the spot.

Anyway, who knows if that wouldn’t be a very good thing for me.

If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I would have quit long ago. ” It is at this point that the reader realizes that Samsa was mentally isolated from the society he lived in before the transformation occurred. Gregor had wished to be free from work long before his transformation occurred, but society expected Gregor to work and to provide food for his family, something that Gregor didn’t want. Gregor’s isolation before the metamorphosis occurred was that he wanted freedom and society wanted him to work.

By Gregor showing different believes than the rest of the society the reader realizes that Gregor was somehow already a loner even before the transformation occurred. The notion isolation also affects Gregor in section III. Some readers believe that Gregor Samsa’s experience is centered on Morality and Ethics. These people believe that Gregor is treated different because he is no longer a human in a physical state. However this notion limits the whole picture of why Gregor is treated differently.

Gregor’s isolation towards society is true picture why he is treated differently. If the other notion of morality and ethics were to be chosen many aspects of “the Metamorphosis” would be lost. These lost would be would be the ability of the reader to see how isolation has both affected Gregor inside and outside. My notion of “the Metamorphosis” portrays events in the past that show Gregor’s isolation were morality and ethics notion lacks of. Many notions in the past have been presented to try to present what Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis really portrayed.

The Metamorphosis: Franz Kafka – An exmaple of Magic Realism

The Metamorphosis, written by Franz Kafka is a prime example of magic realism. Magic realism is a fictional technique that combines fantasy with raw, physical or social reality in a search for truth beyond that available from the surface of everyday life. Also, reality becomes deformed and it is difficult for the reader to perceive the essential truths and tell the difference between what is real and what is unreal.

The story, “The Metamorphosis” is about Gregor, a workaholic, who is changed into an insect and must deal with his present reality.

The hardest part of being an insect for him was the estrangement from his family, which eventually led to his death. In reading this story, the difference between Magical Realism and Fantastic is very small. The magical elements in this story are obvious, as they should be in fantastic literature. It is not often that humans are turned into insects. Another magical element that is not as clear is the unconditional love that Gregor had for his parents and sister after they had treated him so badly and forgotten all about him.

In this fantastic story, the author Franz Kafka uses the metamorphosis to depict how he sees society. Throughout the story, he makes one see society through Gregor’s eyes. Kafka portrays society as being changeable and narrow-minded. The purpose in this story, like all fantastic stories, is told at a deeper level. The purpose of “The Metamorphosis” is to show how people gradually change over time. Gregor, due to his situation with work and family, was slowly changing into a monster and he did not even know it. People do change over time due to the circumstances of their life. Change can either come gradually, as it did in Gregor’s case, until one morning that someone wakes up realizing who he or she is. After someone accepts what he has become, then he and his family must deal with it. The rest of the story depicts one’s life after this turning point.

Like in all fantastic literature, the relationship between the magical element and the rest of the world causes a huge problem. The world turns on Gregor completely. The family was completely dependent on Gregor before the metamorphosis, and now Mr. Samsa has a job as a bank guard, Mrs. Samsa sews underwear, and Grete is a saleslady and the family wants nothing to do with Gregor. They turned on him when he needed them the most. This feeling of worthlessness kills him.

Trying to distinguish between fantasy and Magical Realism is difficult. This story is right on the borderline between the two and is often debated over. Magical Realism is the consideration of a man surrounded by realistic facts. The characters always accept non-reality as being normal, the author offers no explanations of the events, and the story is reality based. It is a different way of viewing something. Magical Realism has implications of fantasy but is not unbelievable. Franz Kafka’s short story “The Metamorphosis” is the perfect example.

A Second Chance in the Metamorphosis

In Harold Ramis’s film, “Groundhog Day” and Franz Kafka’s story, “The Transformation”, both primary characters are faced with a life-altering event due to the fact that of the method they live their lives. In Groundhog Day the primary character Phil is a conceited, ironical weatherman absorbed in his own discomforts, without hope, and cut off from other individuals. He is forced to relive the exact same day, groundhogs day, over and over once again.

In “The Metamorphosis the main character is Gregor Samsa, a guy who invests his time working to settle a debt for his father.

Gregor wakes up to find that he has turned into a beetle. Throughout these two works the main characters try to go back to living their life as before not realizing that this is their 2nd possibility at life to make things right. Phil handles to do so just by breaking through and ending up being a person of intimacy, imagination and empathy which sets him totally free from his exile of living in the same day over and over once again.

When it comes to Gregor, going from somebody everybody depends upon to something no one wants to take care of, he does not get a possibility to have whatever go back to typical. He passes away and his family, for when, is relieved. Groundhog Day lets us experience what it would resemble to make an advancement like this in our own lives. The movie shows us a character that is like the worst in ourselves. Like us, he discovers himself in a mysterious scenario, something like fate. But, unlike us, he gets the high-end of being stuck in the same day up until he gets it right.

Where the majority of us go semi-automatically through the majority of our days, he is required to stop and treat every day like a world onto itself, and decide how to use it. In the end, he undergoes a development to a more genuine self in which intimacy, imagination and empathy come naturally – a self that was trapped inside him which could just be freed by trapping him. Like numerous of the heroes of fiction, he can only escape his exile from himself by being banished in a situation not of his picking.

This movie hits on a message that is commonly found elsewhere and that appears to express an essential truth. When we get beyond denial and resentment over the conditions of life and death, and accept our situation, it tells us, then life ceases to be a problem and we can become authentic and compassionate. Phil makes two such breakthroughs: first he accepts being condemned to being stuck in the same day, then he accepts the fact that everyone else is condemned to die.

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor’s transformation is kind of an extended metaphor. He deeply resented having to support his family. Desiring to be in turn nurtured by them, he becomes a parasite. The complete dependence of Gregor’s family and employer on him, then, is seen as an ironic foil to the reality of Gregor’s anatomical transformation into a parasite. The Metamorphosis is not upon Gregor, but on his family, as they abandon their dependence on him and learn to be self-sufficient.

One interpretation of the story holds that the title applies equally to Gregor’s sister Grete: she passes from girlhood to young womanhood during the course of the narrative. Another view of Gregor’s transformation is that it is an extended metaphor, carried from abstract concept to concrete reality: trapped in a meaningless job and isolated from the human beings around him, Gregor is thought of as an insect by himself and by others, so he becomes one only to die, and relieving the family of having to take care of him.

Fiction allows us to identify with and play characters who find their true selves, putting us in touch with the universal human nature in each of us. The ability to watch and play the role of fictional characters makes the fiction more interesting and expands our vision of possible ways of being. But, one way or another, it must lead us back to our true selves, the universal, moral being we all are, which is as real as the physical world is real.

Groundhog Day symbolizes just this since Phil treats his life as a game only when he is in despair. Once he has a sense of hope, he becomes more authentic and discovers himself. As for The Metamorphosis, Gregor’s state before he turned into a bug contrasts with the family’s state after the got jobs and began working. I guess Kafka is trying to say that we shouldn’t work like bugs for others leaving out time for ourselves as Gregor had but instead work for ourselves with pride and dignity as the family did at the end of the story.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis: Transformations in Gregor’s Family

While it is evident that the term metamorphosis mainly pertains to the unexplainable changes that Gregor Samsa faced, it may also be said that the other characters experienced a metamorphosis of their own. Specifically, despite Gregor’s misfortune and eventual demise, considerable changes have manifested for the benefit of Gregor’s family such as his father regaining enthusiasm in work (Mallison 15). To further explain, Gregor Samsa’s sudden change in an insect has caused his family to change their ways in order to survive.

Taking into consideration that Gregor mainly provided for the needs of his family prior to his transformation, it was definitely no longer a choice for his father, mother, and sister to spend their days idly or unproductively. In addition to such changes, their manner of perception was altered throughout the progression of the story as well. In particular, a metamorphosis also occurred in how they perceived Gregor Samsa’s humanity and existence. Therefore, it is indeed irrefutable that Gregor’s father, mother, and sister all underwent a process of metamorphosis as well albeit not in appearance but rather in terms of their actions and beliefs.

Gregor provided for the needs of his family entirely, as they no longer had to busy themselves with any form of toil and labor. As noted in the story, Gregor “felt a great pride that he was able to provide a life like that in such a nice home for his sister and parents” (Kafka 22). However, upon realizing that having no one to support the family due to Gregor’s unfortunate transformation into an insect, Gregor’s father knew that he had to change his ways and once again attempt to make a living.

This was not an easy task though as Gregor’s father, having suffered from unsuccessful business pursuits in the past was “lacking in self confidence” (Kafka 28). Nonetheless, the father that Gregor once knew, who always acted and presented himself in a laid back manner, has undergone a considerable metamorphosis of his own. Not only did Gregor’s father acquire a job at a banking firm, hence explaining a change in aspects of clothing, a truly encompassing transformation is signified by having “piercing dark eyes, that looked out fresh and alert” (Kafka 36).

With such great changes, it becomes apparent that by the end of the story Gregor’s father was no longer a man haunted by failure, but instead embodied worth and gained a renewed hunger for accomplishments. In addition to his father’s transformation, Gregor’s mother and sister underwent metamorphosis as well. First, it may seem that Gregor’s mother, being faced with a serious health condition would not be able to change her ways or to assume more responsibilities.

Particularly, Gregor’s mother “suffered from asthma and it was a strain for her just to move about the home” (Kafka 28). However, as brought forth by the changes in their household, in addition to possibly seeing the noteworthy transformation of his husband, she was also able to live a more productive lifestyle. Interestingly, the task that Gregor’s mother accomplished in order to further secure the financial stability of her family required minimal physical strain; she “sew fancy underwear for a fashion shop” (Kafka 39).

Grete, Gregor’s sister, on the other hand actually got a proper job, following the steps of her brother as she “had taken a sales job” (Kafka 39). Albeit previously not seeing the need to secure responsibilities of her own, her metamorphosis actually first occurred when she felt the need to care for her brother; having to accomplish the most basic chores without fail, even though she never became accustomed to his brother’s new form.

Throughout the points mentioned above, it becomes clear that the other members of Gregor’s family underwent a metamorphosis in their actions or more specifically in their responsibilities and pursuits. Regardless, it transformations in terms of belief or perception should not be disregarded. To expound, the manner in which they believed or perceived Gregor as a family member, despite his abhorrent state, has also undergone a metamorphosis throughout the story.

Once before, Gregor’s mother even questioned the notion of removing all furniture from Gregor’s room, claiming that “it’d be best to leave the room exactly the way it was before so that when Gregor comes back to us again he’ll find everything unchanged” (Kafka, 32). With such words, it is obvious that there is still a belief that Gregor is indeed the insect before them, only having gone through a temporary metamorphosis, a mere ordeal which would soon pass. However, as Gregor’s family soon became more self-sufficient, their perceptions regarding Gregor eventually changed.

In the end, even Gregor’s most beloved sister exclaimed the following: “I don’t want to call this monster my brother, all I can say is: we have to try and get rid of it” (Kafka, 49). The metamorphosis of each member of Gregor’s family would not have been possible if his own metamorphosis has not occurred. Hence, metamorphosis in this sense may also be pertained to as an exchange or trade-off between fortune and misfortune, or between accomplishment and degradation. Particularly, such a perspective would most be most interesting to further emphasize in the context of Grete.

As Hill specifically mentions in a criticism of Kafka’s work, “the story sadly implies that only false illusion can become a saving ideal, only under its grip can life blossom” (162). Even though not faced with a dire need to earn or to achieve financial success, as other members of the family have gained proper jobs, Grete still aimed to pursue similar goals. It is definitely intriguing to learn that she has acquired a similar job to that his brother once held, implying that she may be trying to complete the gap left by her brother as a gesture of respect.

In conclusion, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is not merely a tale regarding particular changes experienced by an individual but most importantly tells of how such changes may bring forth a myriad of possible outcomes for others. Works Cited Hill, Stanley. “Kafka’s Metamorphosis. ” Explicator 61. 3 (2003): 161 – 162. Print. Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Vista, CA: Boomer Books, 2008. Print. Mallison, Jane. Book Smart: Your Essential Reading List for Becoming a Literary Genius in 365 Days. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Companies, 2007. Print.

The Oedipus Complex in Oedipus Rex, The Metamorphosis and My Old Man

The three literary works under investigation in this essay, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and My Old Man by Charles Bukowski can be said have a common theme: the tense relationship between father and son, as epitomized by Freud’s Oedipus complex. While the interpretation of the works under discussion cannot be narrowed down to a single topic, it can be said that the Oedipus complex is a leitmotif in all three literary pieces. Although this theme functions differently in the three texts, it is important to note that the Oedipus complex is a pivotal element in all of them.

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is a complex text, in which countless symbols and meanings are interwoven. The tragedy revolves around the plight of Oedipus, a man who is entrapped by a relentless and beguiling destiny. While seemingly ascending to greatness and recognition, the hero only manages to sink deeper into sinfulness and disgrace. One of the major conflicts in the play is Oedipus’ constant search for the truth.

Simon O. Lesser analyzes the widespread meanings of the tragedy in his essay Oedipus the King: The Two Dramas, the Two Conflicts.

According to Lesser, despite the convention of absolute unity of time, place and character in classical dramas, Oedipus Rex should be analyzed as a double tragedy, with a foreground and a background conflict which overlap. Thus, Lesser identifies the numerous ambivalences contained by the text. In the critic’s view, the ambivalence is given by Oedipus’ subconscious struggles, which undermine the seemingly benign occurrences in his life. The play is therefore a consummate example of Sophocles’ mastery of the subconscious and its secrets.

Oedipus’s life is marked by blindness and dim, slumbering consciousness. He gropes for the truth about himself and his origins, yet he only discovers it when it is too late. As Lesser points out, Oedipus’ blindness throughout the tragedy is representative of the way in which the human subconscious works. While seemingly leading a glorious life, the hero’s happiness is overshadowed by repressed feelings of guilt and responsibility. There is a constant interplay between the objective reality that Oedipus is conscious of and his own obscure and deeply-rooted guilt.

Outwardly, he is a responsible king, who endeavors to protect the interest of his subjects and find the curse behind the plague that threatens and decimates the state. Inwardly, however, Oedipus is the prey of his own anxieties. Lesser shows therefore that Oedipus Rex is a play about the repressed, subconscious feelings which struggle to come to light despite resistance. Although Oedipus appears to have no knowledge of his crimes, the parricide and the incest, his subconscious torments him with hints and misgivings.

As Lesser remarks, the hero actually refuses to acknowledge evidence of his own guilt, in a desperate attempt to forestall the course of an inevitable fate. Moreover, Oedipus’ refusal to know is manifest only in his conflict with Teiresias and Creon and not in the presence of Jocasta, in front of whom he is able to accept his weaknesses and failures. Lesser’s offers a psychoanalytical interpretation of Oedipus Rex, in which the conflict of the tragedy is given by the clash between the objective reality and the extremely burdened subconscious of the main character.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis is also a literary work where the subconscious realities play a major role. In his Freud and the Magic of Kafka’s Writing, critic Walter Herbert Sokel notes that Kafka’s writings are a tribute to Freudian research. According to Sokel, both Kafka and Freudian psychoanalysis share a genetic approach to human existence. The critic interprets the famous short story as a work in which psychoanalytical elements are primordial. In his view, the metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa into a giant insect is directly related to the idea of repression, as explained in Freudian terms.

The transformation is thus the result of a long-inhibited wish that Gregor nurtured: his desire to be able to leave his unsatisfying and frustrating job. Unable to fulfill this wish because it conflicted with the duties towards his parents and his sister, Gregor’s hidden subconscious needs rebel and invade his objective reality. The metamorphosis functions as a neurotic symptom, which has the role of fulfilling the central desire of the main character, without appearing to do so. The monstrous, fantastic shape that Gregor takes corroborates the idea that his transformation is actually the exposure of his guilt-ridden subconscious.

Moreover, while the metamorphosis serves to liberate Gregor of all his duties, it also functions as an innocent means of escape, which enables the hero to continue to appear as a good person. Once transformed, the protagonist is able to renounce all of his duties, without being obstructed in his plan by guilt or the sense of responsibility towards his family. Furthermore, the metamorphosis can be interpreted as a very eloquent metaphor for the split self: the repressed contents of the subconscious return in a monstrous shape to haunt the conscious ego of the main character.

However, while this transformation does bring with it the fulfillment of Gregor’s most ardent wish, it also punishes him at the same time. Sokel argues that this interpretation of the short story is supported by the dreamy appearance of the whole experience and by the fact that the metamorphosis takes place at dawn, in Gregor’s sleep. In an attempt to ward off the unpleasantness of his obligations, Samsa abdicates from his role as a provider for his family, giving this role back to his father.

Significantly, it is his father that eventually causes Gregor’s death, further supporting the Oedipus element in the story. Sokel thus analyzes Kafka’s Metamorphosis as a literary piece which demonstrates a profound understanding of the subconscious workings of the human mind. Charles Bukowski’s poem, My Old Man, is a seemingly inarticulate rant about a significant event in the life of its narrator. This significant event interestingly marks the only moment in which the narrator ever felt close to his own father.

In his collections of essays entitled How to Write a Poem, critic John Redmond reveals the way in which the poem manages to convey its message in an unusual form. As Redmond observes, the poem contains no similes, metaphors or images, its style being deliberately impoverished and plain. Moreover, the language in the poem is inarticulate and clumsy, with no notable endeavor to express or be eloquent. The only elements that do animate the poem are the four distinct voices or presences: the younger self of the author, the narrative voice in the present, the mother and the father.

The critic suggests that this technique serves to give an ironic portrayal of a significant event and thus play down its importance. The poem is laden with the tension between the father and the son, which is ineffectually mediated by the mother. Significantly, the only moment of relative closeness between the two occurs when the father reads one of the son’s short stories and seems to find meaning in it. As Redmond shows, this tension is effectively disclosed in the gap which is created between what the voices actually say and what is said of them.

Thus, the poem exposes the relationship crisis between father and son, while maintaining a detached and ironic narrative tone. Redmond interprets the poem linguistically, stressing the thematic conflict between father and son. The three works investigated in this essay have a central theme: the tensions and tribulations inherent in the relationships between father and son. All of the texts discussed shed light on the psychological factors hidden in each of the works, offering psychoanalytical interpretations of the respective works.

Works Cited: Bukowski, Charles. The Oxford Anthology of American Poetry. Ed. David Lehman. New York: OUP, 2006. p. 651. Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis. New York: Kessinger Publishing, 2004. Lesser, Simon O. Widespread Meanings: Selected Essays of Simon O. Lesser. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977. Redmond, John. How to Write a Poem. New York: Blackwell, 2006. Sokel, Walter Herbert. The Myth of Power and the Self: Essays on Kafka. Detroit: Wayne State, 2002. Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. New York: Digireads Publishing, 2005.

Sacrifice and Transformation in Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

“The Making of an Allegory,” by Edwin Honig and “Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ as Death and Resurrection Fantasy,” by Peter Dow Webster illuminate how sacrifice and transformation are a vital part of the deeper meaning of “The Metamorphosis.” Gregor Samsa is an ordinary young man until he wakes up one day as a giant vermin; metamorphosised into something horrendous and reviled by the world. Through Honig’s and Webster’s critical essays, this transformation, as well as many more, and sacrifice made by all involved are explored in a thorough and definitive way.

In “The Making of an Allegory,” Honig illustrates how the family structure is altered and strengthened by Gregor’s transformation and, in turn, his seclusion. Honig’s syntax defines his article and gives the reader an excellent idea of this complete metamorphosis of the family. An effect of this is depicted through Mr. Samsa, seen through the cracked door of Gregor’s room, as he now “holds himself very erect,” dresses “in a tight-fitting blue uniform with gold buttons,” and “his black eyes dart bright, piercing glances.

” By using syntax such as Honig does, he explains how the change in Gregor has brought about a change in his whole family, most notably his father. He accompanies this with a great deal of imagery, including “above the high stiff collar of the jacket his heavy chin protruded…[and] his usually rumpled white hair was combed flat…”

Honig’s interpretation of this change displays to the reader that Gregor’s family was affected just as much, if not more, than Gregor. The depressive nature of Gregor towards his father’s new behavior portrays his seclusion and essential worthlessness. These transformations become the center of attention when Mr. Samsa begins hurling apples at the misshapen Gregor. This scene illustrates the retaking of his position as head of the family even as Mrs. Samsa, “her hands clasping his father’s neck, [begs] for Gregor’s life.” Honig’s intention is to make clear how he feels about the family’s resurgence and Gregor’s seclusion and thus his figurative departure from the world. His syntax and imagery clearly state his view as to how the major change in Gregor causes a major change in his entire family.

In “Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ as Death and Resurrection Fantasy,” Webster clarifies how Gregor is not the only one transformed by his situation, as well as the negative effects that have been brought on by it. The tone used by Webster in his essay brings about this negative feel towards the transformation itself, as well as a cynic view towards most of the novel, especially the title. “’Metamorphosis’ is misleading as a title,” because it entails that only one person or being is being metamorphosised; instead, “it should be pluralized since the whole family…father, mother, and sister…are equally transformed.” By giving a reason as to why the title is erroneous, Webster expresses his disturbance towards the title and that Kafka should have realized this and given the proper form of the word.

He declares that “Grete…finally refers to…Gregor as ‘It’ and insists that unless he is rejected…the whole family will disintegrate,” interpreting Grete’s altered view towards him as a sign that she has also grown up through this. The syntax displayed only adds to the negativity towards not just the title, but other parts of the book. Grete’s sudden outburst combines with the syntax of other pieces in the article to display Webster’s assertion on the negativity of the whole family’s transformation. This contrasts with the positive outlook towards it displayed by Honig, who declares that the metamorphosis is helpful to the family.

Not only is there a negative outlook towards the transformation, but also towards each other; Grete, who began as the only person who truly cared about Gregor the beetle, begins to become sickened by him, “when [she] comes into the room, she rushes to open the window, as though she too could not stand the fetid atmosphere.” Once again, Webster is displaying Grete’s own metamorphosis, which is almost as big of a change as Gregor’s, but with more of a negative effect toward others. Webster’s description of the transformations that occur in the characters serves as a metaphor to everyone else in the real world; major events in your life will bring out your true colors and display you for who you are.

In Honig’s “The Making of an Allegory” and Webster’s “Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis as Death and Resurrection Fantasy,” both authors analyze the significance and importance of Gregor Samsa’s sudden metamorphosis. The syntax Honig uses gives his essay, as well as the Samsa family’s transformation, a positive spin and depicts how it truly involves the whole family. This is illuminated by the statement “It is as though the family needed first to have [Gregor’s transformation] swallow its own distaste…before finally expressing its own real feelings overtly.” By using words such as “distaste,” Honig informs the reader that Gregor’s transformation was negative, but the effects of it on everyone around him were positive.

He includes this with later syntax, recounting “…Gregor’s identity and the problematic issue it raises are developed in the distorted relationship between himself and others…” Webster’s tone in his essay denotes the negative approach towards the transformation, how it harmfully affected Gregor and his family. The syntax and tone used by the two authors both attribute to their own spin on the transformation. Even though they each have their own reasons for their views on the metamorphoses, Honig and Webster don’t disagree with each other on it.

Both argue that it’s not only Gregor being transformed, Honig stating “When Gregor’s metamorphosis is accepted as a fact, the other characters show themselves for what they are,” and Webster declaring “Metamorphosis is misleading as a title, it should be pluralized since the whole family…father, mother, and sister…are equally transformed.” Both writers have the intention of drawing the reader to the fact that everyone involved in Gregor’s life is transformed along with him, although they have different views on whether it was positive or negative. Honig and Webster both make valid points toward this and, while slightly contrasting, are equally correct with their viewpoints of entire transformation.

Gregor’s metamorphosis changed his life forever, also altering his family’s lives, whether it is positively or negatively. Both authors illuminated the significance of this and how it brought out the Samsa’s true colors. Honig’s and Webster’s critical essays describe the transformation in a contrasting yet agreeable way that gives the reader room to interpret it however they please.