November 30, 2017
World Literature Essay: The Metamorphosis of the Samsa Family
Franz Kafka, in his novel, The Metamorphosis describes the literal and metaphorical metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa, from a human to a hideous insect-like creature, but underneath the literal lies the more significant metamorphosis of the Samsa Family. In the novella, Gregor Samsa, the sole breadwinner and only son, transforms into a hideous creature. He is locked inside his room, and his only sister Grete takes care of him, while his father wants to get rid of him. Ultimately, the family come to the consensus that the creature is no longer Gregor, and decide to get rid of it. The literal metamorphosis of Gregor catalyzes the growth and development of Grete, from a meek little girl, to a decisive, mature, young woman. Although Grete’s change is the most significant, Mr. Samsa also undergoes a metamorphosis of his own, transforming from a dependent, broken shell of a man, to an independent, responsible man, with a sense of purpose and meaning. In the novella, The Metamorphosis, Kafka explores how traumatic incidents catalyze a positive transformation amongst the Samsa family. Kafka ultimately points to the hope and perseverance of humanity, regardless of the circumstances faced.
The traumatic metamorphosis of Gregor triggered a transformation in Grete, from being a passive, and dependent girl, to a mature, authoritative, and responsible young woman. As Gregor’s metamorphosis progresses and he becomes more insect-like, the Samsa family become disgusted and appalled at his appearance, and the lack of his ability to contribute to the household. This sentiment grows until Grete becomes the only person who the metamorphosed Gregor has any communication and connection with. She starts to exercise her authority by: acting as a special expert with respect to their parents” (Kafka 44), with no consideration of his needs and desires regarding his confined environment and emotional well-being.SS2
This is demonstrated through Grete’s decision to remove all the furniture in Gregor’s room: “They were clearing his room out; taking away everything he loved; the chest in which he had kept his fretsaw and other tools was dragged off; they were now loosening the writing desk which had almost sunk into the floor, the desk he had done all his homework when he was at the commercial academy, at the grammar school before that and, yes, even at the primary school” (46) and how “Grete did not let herself be dissuaded from her mother (45). Although Grete claims she is acting on her brother’s behalf, she separates Gregor from all his remaining physical attachments, that are his only link to the outside (human) world. Thus, as Gregor’s physical needs and abilities shift from human to insect, it is his family who forces him to adapt to his new identity regardless of his resistance to give up his human past and the possibility of returning to it. Her inconsideration illustrates a much different Grete than the one portrayed at the beginning, when she exhibits genuine concern for her brother’s preference and needs. In addition, this is the first-time Grete is no longer portrayed as a weak and meek individual. It is Grete’s role to attend to the demanding, and sometimes revolting, needs of Gregor, and although she does take a more authoritative role, she still exhibits compassion and still believes, arguable immaturity, that her brother is still there. She is no longer in the foreground; she has the authority to make decisions. Through this role of an authoritative, mature, and considerate decision maker, in respect to Gregor’s needs, she displays maturity, and is completely independent in that matter. Through the portrayal of Grete’s role, the author seems to suggest that Grete undergoes a metamorphosis of her own, that is parallel to her brother’s. As Gregor’s physical and emotional state transform, Grete also has a respective transformation; she gains her independence and maturity. This progression in Grete’s role points to the positive caused by Gregor’s metamorphosis, the symbolic golden lining behind a storm cloud, that although the events that take place are tragic, it does lead to a development in Grete’s personality. At face value, after reading this novella, it may seem to depict the situation and the human condition as one of despair and isolation. However, by focusing on the role of Grete, it is evident that Kafka, by giving Grete a drastic transformation, could also be depicting the human condition as one of hope and rebirth. However, Grete’s affection and warmth for her metamorphosed brother is genuine, and well intentioned, but it cannot survive the disparity between their personal situations, nor the growth and maturity, and her ultimate emergence from adolescence. Although she honors the memory of her brother, Grete understands that “things can’t go on like this” (67). She stops cleaning his room and providing him food. Her detachment is evident when she refers to Gregor as it. Grete has reached the level of maturity where she can conclude that “the family must try to get rid of it. Gregor must go” (68) and that “if this were Gregor, he would have realized long age that communal life among human beings is not possible with such an animal and Gregor would have gone away voluntarily” (69). Through this statement, and her referral of Gregor as it, she has reached full maturity, as she is capable of detaching the memory of her brother from the metamorphosed creature, and make a logical and pragmatic decision to get rid of it. Grete’s warm feelings for her brother, although genuine, cannot survive the disparity between their personal situations nor her emergence from adolescence. Through the significant transformation of Grete, Kafka demonstrates how traumatic and challenging events force one to become more mature, more responsible and make decisions where reason and the greater good must be weighed more than emotional attachment.
To continue, the transformation of Gregor forces Mr. Samsa to change from being a dependent, and purpose-less to being responsible and goal oriented. Due to Gregor’s metamorphosis, the family cannot be dependent on Gregor for money and financial stability. The lack of financial security forces Mr. Samsa to enter the workforce. Thus, Mr. Samsa, after being invalid and useless, through years of inactivity, and “laying exhausted and buried in bed” (49) transforms into the head of the house, supporting the family through his bank position. He continues to transform, the longer he works at the bank, which can be seen through his fancy uniform. Mr. Samsa “wore a tight fitting blue uniform with gold buttons” (50) which gave him purpose and meaning, and an air of authority: “With a kind of stubbornness his father refused to take off his official uniform even in the house, and while his robe hung uselessly on the clothes hook, Mr. Samsa dozed, completely dressed, in his chair, as if he were always ready for duty” (54). Prior to the traumatic metamorphosis of Gregor, Kafka characterized Mr. Samsa as a meek individual, who would push forth family decisions and duties towards Mrs. Samsa. After the metamorphosis, he gains an authoritative demeanor. No longer is he portrayed as a weak, helpless and aging man. However, this results in bad consequences for Gregor. Mr. Samsa exercises his newly defined role as the head of the house, and comes to the rescue and defense of his wife and daughter when they exhibit extremely negative emotions towards the physical appearance of Gregor. In defending his family, he expressed his authority and anger and throws apples at Gregor, continuing until one pierced Gregor’s back, become lodged inside his back, forcing him to run away and hide. This violent response is the main cause for Gregor’s declining health, and eventual death. The metamorphosis of Gregor clearly catalyzed a change in Mr. Samsa, causing him to return to work, reaffirm his role in the household. This captures the determination of Mr. Samsa to protect his family, and to rise above the traumatic situation and be there to help them, provide for them, and ultimately, result in the family overcoming their current situation.
Kafka explores how traumatic situations trigger a positive transformation amongst the Samsa family, ultimately pointing towards the innate hope and perseverance that is integral to the human condition. The metamorphosis of Gregor is the catalyst for the more significant metamorphosis of the Samsa family. None of them realize their full potential, until unfortunate circumstances forced them to become self-sufficient and independent, in order to survive and persevere. Ironically, before Gregor’s metamorphosis, the family are symbolic for an insect; turned on their backs, helplessly flailing their limbs, in a failed attempt to gain some ground. Although Gregor experiences a physical metamorphosis, his emotional and mental reality does not change; only his family’s reality changes. Hence, it is the family that experience the more significant metamorphosis. Grete morphed from a meek, dependent and passive girl, to a more mature, responsible young woman. Mr. Samsa escaped the monotony of his routine, changing from a helpless and useless man, dependent on his son for financial stability and his wife for taking care of the family, to an independent, family focused and driven adult. Analyzing the novella in this perspective allows readers to focus on the novella as a story of a positive metamorphosis, as opposed to a depressing and negative one. Through the metamorphosis of the Samsa family, Kafka provides inspiration to humanity, to not let difficult situations and circumstances overpower their hope and perseverance, and how no matter the challenges faced, humanity will morph the challenges into opportunities for growth and self-discovery.
SS1Nee essay to be 1500 and re word cause of plagarism
SS2Might flag as plagiarized. Re write or something to make the rest of the essay original and not plagiarism.