Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

April 7, 2008
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In Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka Gregor Samsa is a salesman who hates his job. He has to work to provide for his family. In the beginning of the story, he wakes up late, and realizes something was different. He somehow transformed into a six foot tall bug overnight. His initial reaction was really surprising. Instead of being freaked out by his new body, all he could think about was how he was going to get to work. I don't think Gregor was ever an actual bug. He might have been psychotic, but I think his metamorphosis was more of a symbolic event than a loss of contact with reality.

Gregor hated his job. He hated waking up early and doing the same thing everyday. He was the only one who worked in his family, so he had to work. One morning he woke up to a lot more legs, a hard shell like back, and antennae. He was a human size cockroach. Gregor sleeping through his alarm clock seems like it symbolizes that he went through his whole life not realizing how boring and routine it was, and when he woke up late, it was like he finally got it. I think that Gregor waking up to that symbolizes that he finally realizes how dehumanizing his job and life are. He's underappreciated, over worked, and lives the same boring life every day.

His family's reaction was weird if he really did wake up as a bug. His father was really mad at him, and his mother and sister were horrified, yet his sister still fed him. The point when I realized he wasn't really a bug was when his father threw an apple at him, and it got stuck in his “flesh”. Bugs do not have flesh. At first I though he was psychotic and he was just convinced he was a bug, but I kept thinking about it and it just sounded really stupid. I think that when his father threw apples at him it was just showing that his father depended on him to support the family, and now that he's giving up he can't do that. When his father started working again, he never took off his uniform so I think he actually liked working. His whole family seemed to get better once Gregor was incapable of doing it himself.

Eventually he stopped eating and moving. He gave up trying to live as he was. If he was a normal human, not a bug, he would be considered depressed. Cockroaches can live for months with out food, and that's about the same time span from when the transformation first took place until he died. But just because they can go that long with out food and so did Gregor doesn't make him a cockroach. Cockroaches can live with out their head for months; I don't think Gregor could do that.

Metamorphosis seemed really pointless and stupid when I first read it, but when I thought about what Kafka was trying to show or say, it made a little bit more sense. There are a lot of ways to interpret the story, but this is how I did: Gregor Samsa was never an actual bug. He simply woke up to the reality of his life. His job, and the way his family treated him completely dehumanized Gregor Samsa, and lead to his death.

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