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Alienation in the Metamorphosis

o be the same. “Above the table, on which an unpacked collection of sample cloth goods was spread out—Samsa was a traveling salesman—hung the picture which he had cut out of an illustrated magazine a little while ago and set in a pretty gilt frame. It was a picture of a woman with a fur hat and a fur boa. She sat erect there, lifting up in the direction of the viewer a solid fur muff into which her entire forearm had disappeared.” (3) As a means of creating a social balance in his world, the women act as a companion in Gregor’s alienation from the public realm. The appearance of the women in this picture has a great significance to the story. In the picture, the women seem to be wearing some type of fur material; which figuratively represents an animal. Gregor seems to relate to this symbolism because all of his life his family ever treated him the way they should have, no they treated him in a way a person would treat an unwanted animal. The only one in his family that remotely treats him as a human being is his sister Grete. During the first two weeks of his transformation, Gregor parents do not even dare to visit him because they do not know how to handle this situation the Gregor is currently in. The women arm missing from the photo also plays a significance to Gregor’s alienation. The arm missing from the picture represents a missing part of Gregor’s life. Gregor is no longer considered being an importance to his family. Since he can no longer provide for his family and help them out finically, they just act like he does not exist any longer. “His initial alienation is extreme, it becomes more and more radical as the plot develops. There is in Gregor, first of all, a gradual awareness of the reality of his new condition and situation, accompanied by increasing resignation to his fate and felling of hopelessness”(Mendoza).

Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week all Gregor focuses on is his family and his job. If they are going to have enough money to pay the bills, if they are going to have enough money to put food and the table, if he goes to have a job when he goes into work all he thinks about are those things. His first thought’s when he wakes up as a monstrous verminous bug is that he is going to be late and then a sense of determination overtakes him. “Before it strikes a quarter past seven, whatever happens, I must be completely out of bed. Besides, by then someone from the office will arrive to inquire about me because the office will open before seven o’clock.” “His biggest worry was the loud crash he would not be able to help to make, which would probably cause anxiety, if not terror, behind all the doors. Still, he must take the risk” (7). Gregor’s tone is calm but persistent. Despite that, he has been turned into a bug, Gregor still has his mind focused pm everything that he still has to do for his family. Gregor must get out of bed and in the process falls and causes himself pain. If he had stayed in bed and not decided to have gotten up he would feel emotional pain because he did not get up and start getting ready to head out to work to provide for his family. This is the point in the story where Gregor finally seems to come to the conclusion that he has alienated himself from his family and from society.

“By the initial fact of his metamorphosis into a monstrous insect Gregor is placed in a condition of total alienation from his family, from human society, and what seems even from human nature, yes it is true that Gregor still has human sensibility, human feelings, and human senses but they are invisible to all that is around him. This is precisely what makes Gregor’s condition so pathetic and his isolation so total” (Mendoza 136). His aspiration is to help his family move forward after the catastrophe of his fathers failed business and from all the money that his father owes people.

Gregor tries to reach out to the outside world, but his appearance is no longer acceptable to the human eye. If one would see him, they would freak out and probably run away. Take, for instance when Gregor comes out of his room to socialize and his father angrily sends him back to his room and slams the door shut. Gregor doesn’t only feel alienated and rejected by his physical appearance, he also feels emotionally disconnected from his family. Essentially, all the connections between Gregor’s family members are cut off by disappointment, fear, and anger. During certain crisis families are supposed to connect, bond and be there for each other. It is the element of the social body, the unbreakable cell. Gregor’s family does not. Perhaps, Franz Kafka reflects back on the past, before Gregor’s transformation into a giant bug, and makes Gregor realize that in reality that he was only a source for income for his family. He was only there to help support the Samsa family lifestyle and nothing more.

Gregor experiences absolute alienation when his sister denies his existence. When Grete starts playing the violin Gregor decides to venture out of his room and into the living room to hear her play because he loves how she sounds. He knows how his family feels about him and his appearance, but he does not care. “Covered in dust Gregor makes his way into the living room into the living room so he can see and hear his sister more clearly”(40). He hopes not to get caught, but of course, he does. “The borders that are in the living room go crazy and Mr. Samsa rushes over to them to shield them from Gregor and comfort all of them”(41). Grete finally has enough after that and tell her family that it is time for them to get rid of Gregor because he is no longer a human being and they cannot go living like this anymore. “My dear parents,” said the sister banging her hand on the table by way of an introduction, “things cannot go on any longer in this way. Maybe if you don’t understand that, well, I do. I will not utter my brother’s name in front of this monster, and thus I say only that we must try to get rid of it. We have tried what is humanly possible to take care of it and to be patient. I believe that no one can criticize us in the slightest”(43). At this moment Gregor realizes that he is no longer a brother, a son, a human being, he is not referred to as an “It” he has no place in this world, he is just an insect, he is nothing.

It seems that throughout Gregor’s life he has always been imprisoned by his family. He finds himself stuck within the walls of his prison, only accompanied by the discomfort of silence, the sound of isolation and alienation. When his family starts to ignore his existence Gregor feelings for others start to change and he begins to put his own needs, desires and wishes before anyone else’s. like when to sneak out of his room to listen to the lovely music that is playing in the living room, his sister is playing the violin. This is where he finally figures out that this is what he probably should have been doing along, but didn’t because he felt that he needed to do everything for his family, just so that he could earn their love and respect, but unfortunately for him he never got it. Gregor alienation came to an end after his sister decides that it is time to get rid of him, he slowly turns and goes back to his room and for all in total purposes dies.  The cleaning lady finds him the next day at first she thinks he is just lying there and then “she quickly realized the true state of affairs, her eyes grew large, she whistled to herself. However, she didn’t restrain herself for long. She pulled open the door of the bedroom and yelled in a loud voice into the darkness, “Come and look. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s lying there, totally snuffed” (45)!

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The death of Gregor Samsa is self-imposed in the literal sense that it occurs only after the consent of the “hero” Gregor carries out the death sentence on himself that his sister, as the representative of the family and of life, has pronounced against him. “He executes it by virtue of what can only be considered psychic power. He kills himself simply by his will. His will is to obey the “law” which has chosen him for sacrifice so that his family can live free and the formulation of this will is immediately followed by its fulfillment Gregor’s death. (Sokel).

“Traditionally, critics of The Metamorphosis have underplayed the fact that the story is about not only Gregor’s metamorphosis but also his family” (Straus). His parent’s first thoughts that enter their minds after Gregor’s death are that they have a desire to walk. This emphasizes that they are feeling a sense of relief and disregard. This is the part of the story that the Samsa family dehumanizes Gregor to the point that he is no longer their son. “The spirit of Gregor Samsa turns into a progressive character, demonstrating that, through writing, minorities can express their reality view. The psyche of a human inside the assortment of an animal is typical of the degree of the offense inside of entrepreneur work misuse. Kafka’s stories figure out how to “skip through the openings and the stories they told” and rise above customary and prevailing talks by demonstrating their imperfections and consequences for human mind” (Zeeshan 7)

Gregor’s metamorphosis and transition seem to reflect the psychological dying process. There seem to be three different parts of his dying process. The first stage seems to be isolation. He is isolated by his family, himself, and his work by the pressures that society places upon his shoulders, especially within his family. He feels alienated like he has no place in this world. The second stage seems to be his progression of anger and depression. Even though it never mentions that Gregor was angry throughout the short story, readers can interpret some type of angry within in Gregor. Gregor metamorphosis is that he was turned into a nasty terrifying bug, but it was also that he started becoming aware of his isolation and alienation. He finally figures out that the way his family treats him is no normal that he is basically only there make the money. This leads him to become very aware of everything having to do with his family. This outrage is exposed when he realizes that his family has been neglecting him for all this time that they do not even love or care about him. After Gregor finishes the anger part of stage two, he seems to slowly move into a stage of deep depression. He has to watch his family give more consideration to others while he is given not a consideration at all. They just ignore him, act like he is not even there. How would you feel if you were in Gregor’s Shoes?  The third and final stage of Gregor’s metamorphosis can be seen as acceptance. The final stage becomes the final part of his life. He just gives up, he has nothing to live for anymore, he just does not want to keep moving on. His family hates him, he cannot go outside and be a part of society because people will freak out if they see him. He just remains confined to his room for 24 hours a day and even if he tries to come out, he gets yelled and ordered back into his room because no one in his family wants to see him or be around him. He finally gets some peace with his final breath of life. Gregor’s death seems to mean that he is ready to move on from this life and have his family move on with their lives. His death finally gives him the freedom that he has always deserved but just did not know it. His death also finally always Gregor the freedom from the alienation that had held him prisoner for so long. He is finally free and will never have to feel alienated or unloved ever again.

Franz Kafka does an amazing job in this essay showing his readers what it feels and looks like being alienated from something. He goes deep into Gregor’s life and showing his defining moment on when he truly figured out his alienation. Turning Gregor into a bug was interesting to say at the least but it thinks it got the point across that Kafka wanted his readers to see. Turning Gregor into a bug really allowed readers to see and feel the alienation that he does, it allows us to sympathize with Gregor.

Work Cited

  • Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.” Http://, Feedbooks, 1912,
  • Mendoza, Ramón G. “The Human Vermin: Kafka’s Metaphor for Extreme Alienation.” Critical Insights: The Metamorphosis (2011): 133-165. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web 20Nov. 2018
  • Sokel, Walter H. “From Marx to Myth: The Structure and Function of Self-Alienation in Kafka’s Metamorphosis.” Critical Insights: The Metamorphosis (2011): 215-230 Web 20 Nov. 2018
  • Straus, Nina. “Transforming Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” JSTOR. The University of Chicago Press, 1 Jan. 199. Web. 20 Nov. 2018
  • Zeeshan, Malik Shahrukh. “Alienation, Franz Kafka Metamorphosis.”

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