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Kafka’s Metamorphosis

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Critically assess the view that Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis is presented to the reader as deluded about his own family, by discussing what you think are the most important interactions and scenes in the short story that support your argument.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka explores Gregor Samsa’s transformation into a monstrous insect which ultimately challenged his perceptions of his self-worth. Primarily, it can be argued that Gregor is deluded at the beginning of the novel as he believes that his family will help him as he financially supported them before his transition. However, Gregor’s relationship with his father declines, and he is shown no respect or pity which leads to him feel alienated and unwelcome, which essentially leads to his death. Although his mother and sister try to support him through his metamorphosis, they eventually abandon him as they are mortified by his appearance and cannot associate such a creature to Gregor. Gregor sacrificed his life before his transformation to be the breadwinner of the family and also at the end of the novel so his family could go on living without having to care for a ‘parasite.’ After his metamorphosis, he is perceived as worthless as he destroys the family’s initial sense of comfortability and order that they once had. Therefore, when he dies, the readers learn that the family is much happier without him and he is not deluded about his family.

Gregor’s relationship with his father destroys his sense of belonging as he shows no sympathy towards his son, who is unable to connect with his family. After Gregor’s transformation into an insect, his father perceives him as unworthy and incapable of providing for the family. As a result, “His father administered a powerful shove from behind, that sent him flying, bleeding profusely” (P.11). Gregor’s father becomes very violent and aggressive towards his son who is unable to defend himself. The negative connotation associated with the narrator’s tone describes the mistreatment Gregor undergoes as he tries to stay alive in a body that is foreign to him. Gregor’s father allows him to believe that he was only relevant to the family when he could financially support them. Thus, guilt slowly defeats him as he is forced to consider that he is the reason behind his family’s distress and misery. Furthermore, Gregor’s relationship with his father further worsens, “He had filled his pockets, and now was tossing apple after apple in Gregor’s direction…. which embedded itself in his back” (P.31). The visual imagery presented conveys the anger that has built up inside his father and the readers gain an image of hostility and misery. Additionally, the violence that Samsa endures leads to his death as he is physically and emotionally abused by his father to conclude that he was only important when he could work. The reoccurring motif of money is a frequent issue that is on Gregor’s mind as he was only working to support his family. When his job is taken away from him so is the money which ultimately leads to his disconnection with the family who is forced to work after his metamorphosis. Thus, Gregor is not deluded by his family and slowly realises that he was only relevant when he could financially support his family.

Throughout Gregor’s metamorphosis, he realises that there is a limit towards the amount of understanding that his family can show towards him. Gregor finds it difficult to find reconciliation within himself and the body that he has been transformed into. Therefore, his family also suffered, “everyone had gotten into the habit of using his room to store things there was no space for in the apartment” (p.36). The high modality delivered through the word ‘everyone’ symbolises the pressuring situation the family has had trying to care for Samsa who now needs more room to move. To meet financial needs, the Samsa family brought in three lodgers. However, this caused a huge problem when the lodgers found out about him. Grete states, “this beast is tormenting us, it drives away our lodgers and intends to take over our entire apartment and have us sleep in the gutter.”  Grete’s word choice ‘it’ immediately dehumanizes Gregor and he realises that he is not a part of the family anymore. Gregor is stripped of his humanity as the family’s perspective of him is a parasite who is tormenting their lives. The sadness Gregor experiences is a result of his metamorphosis, as his personality adapts to the body that he exists in. The main driving force behind his death is his inability to connect with his family; thus, his family is not sad or shaken by his death. After the death of Gregor Samsa, Herr Samsa says, “Now we can thank God” (p.44).  Herr Samsa’s tone expresses relief that he and his family no longer need to suffer as a result of Gregor’s metamorphosis and now they can live without being held back by Gregor.  The Samsa family drove him to believe that he was not useful to the family anymore and that they could no longer risk their lives for him. Thus, Gregor is not deluded by his family, but the readers find out that the family is much happier without him.

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