The Desire for Freedom and Fulfillment in The Metamorphosis
The Metamorphosis is about a man’s obligation to his family. He hates his job of being a traveling salesman, but does anyway so he can support his family’s debt. Gregor wishes that he could be free of his dreadful job with an odious employer. He also has to make the agonizing decision of either his filial duty to his father, or his desire to emancipate himself from such obligations and dependence. The absurdity of life is a recurring theme in this story because The Metamorphosis is based on an irrational event and operates in a random and/or chaotic universe.
One morning, Gregor wakes up as a bug. This is the absurd event that takes place in this story. Not only is it unlikely something like this could happen, but it is physically impossible. There are no implications as to why Gregor turned into a bug. As a matter of fact, all evidence leads to believe he doesn’t even deserve this fate. Gregor is a good son who takes on a job he dislikes for the sake of his parents–or more so his father’s–debt. He also had planned to pay for his sister’s education on music at the conservatory. So the reader has to infer beyond that of which is given.
Gregor’s family treats this sort of as a random occurrence, like catching a cold. Which adds to the absurdity of the story. Everyone is also unusually calm and aren’t surprised with the situation. Although there is the exception of the maid, who had begged to be fired. Gregor is more concerned about the commonplace problems like getting in trouble at work. The other characters of the story see this as something gross and unlikely when it is in fact something that is impossible and pretty horrifying. They focus on adapting rather than trying to find a cure to bring their ‘beloved’ family member back. Gregor’s family has a limit to their sympathy. As soon as Gregor is no longer able to provide for his family, the devolution begins right away. The family gets more stressed as the family progresses. One of the sources of the stress is Gregor’s appearance. Grete is so repelled by the way Gregor looks that she can hardly stand being in the same room as him. Even Gregor’s mother is so horrified by the way Gregor turned out, she fainted at the sight of him. Gregor’s presence is never forgotten and it makes the family feel eerie and uncomfortable that they are living with him, while keeping an arm’s length away from Gregor. Ultimately, it is Grete, who showed the most sympathy for Gregor, who decides that they must rid of him.
Gregor’s life can be applied to real world scenarios as well. Sort of how when you throw away toys kids had when they were just infants or when you have old newspaper lying around that no longer serves a purpose because it has been outdated. Once you become useless to someone in their life or maybe even society itself, you are tossed aside and deemed worthless while everyone still co-exists with said person. Gregor provided income for his family and helped his father pay off debts he had while also planning to fund his sister’s study in music. Although he desired freedom and emancipation, he decided to do it for his family’s sake. But when he had turned into a bug, those desires were fulfilled but, now he was of no use to his family as he could not work in the physical state he was in. Finally, his own family decides to purge of Gregor’s existence. Not only for the fact that he had no use but also for the fact that even the sight of him disgusted anyone he came in contact with, thus embarrassment also came with Gregor’s presence.
Gregor did everything in his power to help out his family, even at the cost of his own wants. He wished for freedom and in fact got his wish, but in the worst way possible. In an irrational turn of events, Gregor turned into a bug and was rid of all his responsibilities. But eventually, his own family turns on him. The preposterousness of his transformation doesn’t even beg the question of “How do we turn him back?” or “Why did this happen?” in his family’s mind. Although Kafka’s art is so immensely ambivalent, that no single analysis can thoroughly comprehend it, this is one of the many point of views that comes to mind when having to analyze this text. Gregor’s physical manifestation composes a translation of his interior self to the external world, The Metamorphosis is a superb accomplishment of expressionism.
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