The Metamorphosis: Alienation from Society and Yourself
Gregor’s family are only human and their disdain for him germinates. “‘Gregor, you!’ yelled the sister, glaring fiercely and raising her fist. These were her first direct words to him since the metamorphosis” (Kafka). Subsequent to their mother fainting, Grete screams at Gregor when she sees him on the wall. He realizes that there has been zero verbal interaction with him since he had transformed, although his eavesdropping has proved that his family converses about him. Grete’s outburst, vocalized in aversion and outrage, illustrates Gregor’s initial verbal connection with a member of the family since his metamorphosis, exposing the burgeoning absence of human connection with him.
After Gregor’s father injures him with an apple, he is granted some respite from his lack of human connection. “Toward evening every day the living room door…was opened, so that lying in the darkness of his room and unseen from the living room, he could view the whole family at the brightly lit table and could listen to their conversation more or less with their consent, completely unlike his prior eavesdropping” (Kafka). Gregor appreciates this remuneration for his father’s previous abuse. Although the reward is hardly adequate compensation for the attempt on his life, Gregor’s satisfaction with being able to observe his family from the shadows exposes his impression of alienation from society in general and, specifically, his family, in addition to his inclination to safeguard his relationships.
As the story progresses, the reader learns that Gregor’s feeling of disaffection was manifest prior to his transformation. “The alienation caused by Gregor’s metamorphosis can be viewed as an extension of the alienation he already felt as a person” (Zainab). At the beginning of the story, when Gregor first awoke and realized he had become a bug, he contemplates his life and job, realizing that the relationships he can claim are cursory and ephemeral as a side effect of his traveling often. Later on, Gregor remembers how the honor he felt at being able to provide for his family had diminished and the emotional intimacy he had with them along with it. Especially in the end, when the concern he had for his family totally disappeared. “The story also instructs about the paradox of catastrophe: Gregor is treated no less respectfully after his metamorphosis than he was before it” (Gans). Gregor provided everything for his family, even when his father, unbeknownst to Gregor, had money saved. Gregor intended to send his sister to school, and he worked assiduously without any regard for his own well-being. However, he was forsaken and uncherished. This remained unwaveringly true following his transformation.
At the close of The Metamorphosis, Gregor, who up until that point had been resolved on returning to his normal life, retires to his bare-walled room and into himself. “He gives himself up to death by which he liberates not only the world from himself, but himself from the world” (Sokel). Gregor, seemingly involuntary, executes the death that his sister had sentenced. “I won’t pronounce the name of my brother in front of this monster, so all I say is: we have to try and get rid of it. We’ve done everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with it” (Kafka). Grete could foresee Gregor’s continued presence as instigating their parents’ deaths. Indeed, it was Gregor’s death that was pivotal to the whole family’s freedom. Gregor’s freedom from the burden of his obligations and the alienation that those obligations served, and his family’s freedom from the visual torment of the vermin that he had become. But also, their freedom to enjoy a life of prosperity that they would begin to provide for themselves
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