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Alienation In The Metamorphosis English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 780 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The Metamorphosis is a story written by Franz Kafka that was published in 1915. Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning and finds that he has transformed from a human to an insect. He immediately worries about how he will get to his job as a traveling salesman. His family depends on him financially. One Gregor finally decides to show himself, he sends the family into shock. Throughout the story, this requires the rest of the family to get jobs and work. He slowly starts to become unnoticed by his family. He eventually gets so depressed that he finally dies one night in his room. After Gregor died, it seems that a great weight had been lifted from the family. The family only seemed to mourn for a few moments. They soon take a trolley to countryside and their thoughts are already happy. There are many ways that this story can be analyzed.

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Alienation is a theme in Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” At a young age, Gregor finds that he is responsible for the support of his family and cannot for the life of him see a way out of his situation. He is forced to forgo a love relationship where he could find intimacy with another human and perhaps father children to his lonely life. Night after night, he travels from one lonely hotel room to another, selling textiles. When he is at home, he locks himself into his bedroom, a habit he says he developed while traveling, but you can see this as his need to alienate himself even more from his family. His room has three doors, with a family member outside each urging him to get up and go to work so they can continue to live a nice lifestyle. Gregor’s solution to his dilemma is to metamorphose into a gigantic insect. However, this alienates him from his family even more. Gregor is overburdened by guilt and I think that is what finally killed him. After he awakes one morning to find he has been transformed into a gigantic insect, he shows little concern for himself. Instead, he agonizes about what will happen to his family now that he cannot get up to go to work. In addition, he is concerned about his boss will react. Despite having sacrificed his life for his family, he expects nothing in return and feels guilty that Grete is now forced to bring him food. His guilt about his appearance forces him under the couch so she won’t have to looking at him. I also think he feels guilt that now his father will have to get a job instead of sitting around all day being lazy, along with the rest of his family. He also feels guilt that his mother has to sew to make money, and guilt that Grete has to work in a shop. In the end, when he is rejected by Grete for interfering during her concert, Gregor’s guilt forces him back into his filthy room to die alone so his family can get on with their lives. A lot of people like to compare this guilt to Kafka’s guilt in his own life. He felt alienated because he spoke German but lived in Prague, a Czech city. He was Jewish, yet lived among people who looked down upon Jews. Since he doubted the existence of God, he felt alienated from his own people. He lived with his family, but felt isolated because he despised his father. Overburdened, he found no satisfaction in his job in the insurance industry, wanting only a life of literature. He felt like a failure in the eyes of his father who held him to very high standards. It is generally agreed, however, that the story portrays a world that is hostile, much like Kafka’s own life.

The second time Gregor makes an appearance, his father gives him a permanent injury by throwing an apple into his back. For a father to throw apples at his own son, proves that Gregor is no longer being treated or thought of as their son, but more as a wild beast. Resulting from this incident, his family begins neglecting Gregor by not cleaning up the room or even feeding him. The last and final time Gregor makes an appearance; his family is disgusted and loathes his presence. They slam the door behind him, not realizing his condition, and he takes his last breath shortly thereafter. If escape from his predicament is impossible, then Kafka, with his metamorphosis, provides an impossible escape. By becoming an insect, Gregor gains both his freedom and the right to avoid guilt, since his freedom is forced on him. Maybe this transformation happened randomly on its own, or maybe Gregor willed it on himself. What matters is that this transformation is the only escape from the trap that Gregor is caught in. And, since the trap is primarily a psychological one, the escape is physical. Gregor is changed into an insect. This metamorphosis seems to end his conflict.


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