The Metamorphosis: Alienation from Society and Yourself
Gregor’s family are only human and their disdain for him germinates. “‘Gregor, you!’ yelled the sister, glaring fiercely and raising her fist. These were her first direct words to him since the metamorphosis” (Kafka). Subsequent to their mother fainting, Grete screams at Gregor when she sees him on the wall. He realizes that there has been zero verbal interaction with him since he had transformed, although his eavesdropping has proved that his family converses about him. Grete’s outburst, vocalized in aversion and outrage, illustrates Gregor’s initial verbal connection with a member of the family since his metamorphosis, exposing the burgeoning absence of human connection with him.
After Gregor’s father injures him with an apple, he is granted some respite from his lack of human connection. “Toward evening every day the living room door…was opened, so that lying in the darkness of his room and unseen from the living room, he could view the whole family at the brightly lit table and could listen to their conversation more or less with their consent, completely unlike his prior eavesdropping” (Kafka). Gregor appreciates this remuneration for his father’s previous abuse. Although the reward is hardly adequate compensation for the attempt on his life, Gregor’s satisfaction with being able to observe his family from the shadows exposes his impression of alienation from society in general and, specifically, his family, in addition to his inclination to safeguard his relationships.
As the story progresses, the reader learns that Gregor’s feeling of disaffection was manifest prior to his transformation. “The alienation caused by Gregor’s metamorphosis can be viewed as an extension of the alienation he already felt as a person” (Zainab). At the beginning of the story, when Gregor first awoke and realized he had become a bug, he contemplates his life and job, realizing that the relationships he can claim are cursory and ephemeral as a side effect of his traveling often. Later on, Gregor remembers how the honor he felt at being able to provide for his family had diminished and the emotional intimacy he had with them along with it. Especially in the end, when the concern he had for his family totally disappeared. “The story also instructs about the paradox of catastrophe: Gregor is treated no less respectfully after his metamorphosis than he was before it” (Gans). Gregor provided everything for his family, even when his father, unbeknownst to Gregor, had money saved. Gregor intended to send his sister to school, and he worked assiduously without any regard for his own well-being. However, he was forsaken and uncherished. This remained unwaveringly true following his transformation.
At the close of The Metamorphosis, Gregor, who up until that point had been resolved on returning to his normal life, retires to his bare-walled room and into himself. “He gives himself up to death by which he liberates not only the world from himself, but himself from the world” (Sokel). Gregor, seemingly involuntary, executes the death that his sister had sentenced. “I won’t pronounce the name of my brother in front of this monster, so all I say is: we have to try and get rid of it. We’ve done everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with it” (Kafka). Grete could foresee Gregor’s continued presence as instigating their parents’ deaths. Indeed, it was Gregor’s death that was pivotal to the whole family’s freedom. Gregor’s freedom from the burden of his obligations and the alienation that those obligations served, and his family’s freedom from the visual torment of the vermin that he had become. But also, their freedom to enjoy a life of prosperity that they would begin to provide for themselves
The Desire for Freedom and Fulfillment in The Metamorphosis
The Metamorphosis is about a man’s obligation to his family. He hates his job of being a traveling salesman, but does anyway so he can support his family’s debt. Gregor wishes that he could be free of his dreadful job with an odious employer. He also has to make the agonizing decision of either his filial duty to his father, or his desire to emancipate himself from such obligations and dependence. The absurdity of life is a recurring theme in this story because The Metamorphosis is based on an irrational event and operates in a random and/or chaotic universe.
One morning, Gregor wakes up as a bug. This is the absurd event that takes place in this story. Not only is it unlikely something like this could happen, but it is physically impossible. There are no implications as to why Gregor turned into a bug. As a matter of fact, all evidence leads to believe he doesn’t even deserve this fate. Gregor is a good son who takes on a job he dislikes for the sake of his parents–or more so his father’s–debt. He also had planned to pay for his sister’s education on music at the conservatory. So the reader has to infer beyond that of which is given.
Gregor’s family treats this sort of as a random occurrence, like catching a cold. Which adds to the absurdity of the story. Everyone is also unusually calm and aren’t surprised with the situation. Although there is the exception of the maid, who had begged to be fired. Gregor is more concerned about the commonplace problems like getting in trouble at work. The other characters of the story see this as something gross and unlikely when it is in fact something that is impossible and pretty horrifying. They focus on adapting rather than trying to find a cure to bring their ‘beloved’ family member back. Gregor’s family has a limit to their sympathy. As soon as Gregor is no longer able to provide for his family, the devolution begins right away. The family gets more stressed as the family progresses. One of the sources of the stress is Gregor’s appearance. Grete is so repelled by the way Gregor looks that she can hardly stand being in the same room as him. Even Gregor’s mother is so horrified by the way Gregor turned out, she fainted at the sight of him. Gregor’s presence is never forgotten and it makes the family feel eerie and uncomfortable that they are living with him, while keeping an arm’s length away from Gregor. Ultimately, it is Grete, who showed the most sympathy for Gregor, who decides that they must rid of him.
Gregor’s life can be applied to real world scenarios as well. Sort of how when you throw away toys kids had when they were just infants or when you have old newspaper lying around that no longer serves a purpose because it has been outdated. Once you become useless to someone in their life or maybe even society itself, you are tossed aside and deemed worthless while everyone still co-exists with said person. Gregor provided income for his family and helped his father pay off debts he had while also planning to fund his sister’s study in music. Although he desired freedom and emancipation, he decided to do it for his family’s sake. But when he had turned into a bug, those desires were fulfilled but, now he was of no use to his family as he could not work in the physical state he was in. Finally, his own family decides to purge of Gregor’s existence. Not only for the fact that he had no use but also for the fact that even the sight of him disgusted anyone he came in contact with, thus embarrassment also came with Gregor’s presence.
Gregor did everything in his power to help out his family, even at the cost of his own wants. He wished for freedom and in fact got his wish, but in the worst way possible. In an irrational turn of events, Gregor turned into a bug and was rid of all his responsibilities. But eventually, his own family turns on him. The preposterousness of his transformation doesn’t even beg the question of “How do we turn him back?” or “Why did this happen?” in his family’s mind. Although Kafka’s art is so immensely ambivalent, that no single analysis can thoroughly comprehend it, this is one of the many point of views that comes to mind when having to analyze this text. Gregor’s physical manifestation composes a translation of his interior self to the external world, The Metamorphosis is a superb accomplishment of expressionism.
The Discrepancy of Power in Characters of The Metamorphosis
The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka expertly utilizes the power of language to demonstrate an inconsistency in the level of assigned power amongst the individual characters. In The Metamorphosis, the characters have varying levels of power in part due to their predicated societal gender roles. This is dictated through the great disparity between the language that is used to describe Grete and the actions she takes towards Gregor throughout the novella. Gregor’s relegated state is signified by the language that signifies him as Other.
The narrator’s word choice exemplifies how Gregor’s isolation crowns his metamorphosis. The descriptive words imply the subject is reduced to an object. The narrator states, “One Morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug” (Kafka 3). Gregor is separated from society even further due to the use of strong words such as monstrous, which help depict Gregor’s appearance as fear inducing, thereby further separating him from society. The subsequent word verminous implies Gregor’s despicable state. Towards the beginning of the sentence Gregor the reader is lead to believe Gregor Samsa was a person, however by the end he was relegated to a detestable, lowly bug. Gregor is introduced with a proper noun, giving him value as a human being; but his transition into a bug marginalizes him and reduces him to a worthless object. The narrator’s descriptive character introduction affirms Gregor’s disparate identity as Other. The narrator states, “All right, people did not understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to him, clearer than previously, perhaps because his ears had gotten used to them” (Kafka 17). This quote is effective in portraying Gregor as other and having him finally complete his transformation. It shows that Gregor had gotten used to the words that he speaks. Gregor is introduced as a bug out of nowhere but now he is quickly adapting to his new body. His ears have gotten used to his beetle words. The language used in these quotes help describe Gregor as other and bring attention to fundamental story elements.
Gregor finds difficulty in characterizing himself, he is not sure what to feel. The words used to describe Gregor often attribute him with inhuman traits further outlawing him. But Gregor is incapable of fully grasping what his transformation was entailing to him. The narrator states, “Was he an animal that music so seized him? For him it was as if the way to the unknown nourishment he craved was revealing itself to him” (Kafka 64). The word animal is used to further question what his current state of being was. Revealing to himself, helps portray how Gregor had been in constant search of himself throughout the text, trying to find purpose. He doesn’t know how he is supposed to feel in the novella and is having trouble characterizing himself. Gregor was questioning if he could possibly be an animal when music had still seemed to somehow captivate him. He was not familiar before with if music influenced animals. Grete playing the violin gained all of Gregor’s attention and distracted him from the frail state that he had been In.
Gregor’s work life was integral to his character and his inability to work greatly affected changed the direction and purpose of his life. Prior to his transformation Gregor was very happy with his accomplishments, especially his ability to provide entirely for his family, through honest man’s work. The narrator states, “he felt a great pride that he had been able to provide such a life in a beautiful apartment like this for his parents and his sister. But how would things go if now all tranquility, all prosperity, all contentment should come to a horrible end?” (Kafka 28). When Gregor underwent his transformation into a bug, he is initially concern with his inability to earn money and go to, this is because prior to his transformation Gregor was the sole bread winner for his family. Through Gregor’s job alone he was capable of providing an upper middle-class lifestyle for his family. However, now that Gregor was a bug, that was no longer an option and it is apparent that he feels bad he can no longer provide for him in the same capacity that he once had. This is significant because it is a clear indication of Gregor’s changing role in his familial hierarchy as a direct result of his transformation. He is no longer of providing such a life for his family, his role changes, and it quickly translates to being treated drastically different. The narrator states, “He was the boss’s minion, without backbone or intelligence” (Kafka 5). This quote is effective in describing part of Gregor’s assigned role in his work life and how he was never of any significance or held in a high regard. His boss saw him as no more than a stooge who of which would carry out any task until his death. Gregor was being worked to the bone and now that he could no longer work he was seen as little use to the characters of the story. His mere existence was taxing on his family emotionally and physically. The language in these quotes helps exemplify Gregor’s change in role in regards to how he could no longer work how he once had.
Grete changes more than any other character in the story, and in some ways is seen to undergo her own sense of metamorphosis. Though she is not seen to literally metamorphosize into a beetle as Gregor had, Grete’s role throughout the text, her attitude towards her brother, and her state of affairs all change over the course of the novella. The narrator’s choice in genders of the characters applies to their roles in the novella, however their roles are swapped from how they once had been. Though Gregor was once seen to be the caretaker of the family, upon his metamorphosis he could no longer even take care for himself. It is because of this that Grete feels greatly obligated to take care of her brother. Regardless of how much Gregor has once done to provide for everyone, Grete’s pity for Gregor slowly diminishes throughout the text. “‘Gregor, you …,’ cried out his sister with a raised fist and an urgent glare.” (Kafka 47). This was the first time someone was referencing Gregor directly since his transformation, and of great importance, especially because it was in a state of discontent. The phrase raised fist and an urgent glare helps set the tone of the quote and shows Grete’s growing resentment towards Gregor. This resentment grew to the point in which Grete, who once seemed to be the only one to care for Gregor, turned on him. “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” (Kafka 67). This Quote is Integral to the story in the sense that it signifies when Grete had reached her breaking point and finally had enough of taking care of Gregor. His health had no sign of immediate improvement and he was draining the family of their sanity. Grete finally had enough of taking care of the ill Gregor and was ready to get rid of him in some capacity.
Gregor eventually seems to acknowledge that he is no longer thought of dearly by his family. With his final breath he makes his decision to leave them. The Narrator states “ In this business, his own thought that he had to disappear was, if possible, even more decisive than his sister’s” (Kafka 71). This is the end of Gregor, he had finally made the decision that it was best for him to leave his family. His family’s growing resentment was clear to Gregor and he was no longer interested in troubling them. Gregor’s use to his family had diminished, and now not only was he a bug, but a crippled one at that. He was too much a burden for his family to take up and had exhausted all the courtesy afforded to him from his sole caretaker, Grete. Once Grete was no longer interested in caring for Gregor it is as if Gregor felt obligated to leave in an attempt to restore balance to his family. “Then without willing it, his head sank all the way down, and from his nostrils flowed out weakly out his last breath “ (Kafka 71). Though not willing it directly, Gregor had generally accepted his fate up to this point. The phrase from his nostrils flowed out weakly out his last breath. Illustrates how ill Gregor had become. Gregor with time had eventually became very weak and was beyond saving. With realizing this, his last gift to his family was the gift of his death. His death was of great relief to his family, and they even seemed to quickly forget about it.
There is a great disparity between the language that is used to describe Grete and the actions she takes towards Gregor throughout the novella. It is due to many of the implications stated, such as Grete’s portrayal as a frail girl as well as her Inverted gender roles and her growing resentment towards Gregor. Grete’s futile rebellion reduces her to a sum of parts and is the primary focus throughout the novella. Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis reinforces the oppression of women in the household by highlighting the transformation of Grete, Gregor’s sister, from a generally passive domestic caretaker to a more masculine, controlling one. She is forced to break out of her previously assigned role in the household and with it becomes more assertive in nature. Gregor’s illness helps build Grete’s character and prepare her for taking up the role Gregor once had occupied. With Gregor’s metamorphosis and death her character shifts as well as her familial role. She Has taken up new responsibility and growth.
Surrealism Of Identity And Appearance in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis
Identity and Physical Appearance
Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis follows Gregor Samsa from his transformation into an insect to his death. Naturally, Gregor’s metamorphosis causes great turmoil in his family, leading to changing roles for the different members. There are many ways to read Kafka’s surrealism, but one major element of this piece is the relationship between identity and appearance. The character’s inward transformations and changing roles are reflected in their outward appearances; Kafka illustrates the physical signs of human identity.
The central physical change of a character in The Metamorphosis is obviously Gregor’s literal mutation from human to insect form, which interrupts how he sees himself and how he operates in his family and in his home. Without any explanation, he finds “himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin” (Kafka 7). An extreme physical change opens the story. For the entirety of it, Gregor is in this state; the metamorphosis is his downfall. As a regular human man, he had worked as a traveling salesman to support his parents and sister, and even upon waking as vermin he is determined to get to work on time. This becomes a problem, however, because he has “only the many little legs that continually [wave] every which way and which he [can] not control at all” (10). The drastic change of his physical being not only frightens his family so they confine him to his room – when he emerges shortly after the transformation, “the father [drives] Gregor back relentlessly” – but also makes it extremely difficult for him to move around his room (20). He must adapt to a totally new physical state, and his small house and frightened family do not seem adequate for Gregor’s change.
Throughout the piece, Gregor not only struggles physically, but his humanity is called into question. He mentally struggles to accept that he can no longer support his family. He views himself as strong and sacrificial for having taken care of them, and has great difficulty in not being able to do anything as they struggle financially without his income; he feels “flushed with shame and grief” when he realizes that the savings from his work is “by no means sufficient to support the family” (27). He loses his role as breadwinner and therefor his purpose. Now, he strives to reconcile his transformation and find some way to go on, but his options are limited; he simply crawls around his room. His new form is confusing and taxing; as his mother and sister begin to clear out his room, he wonders if he truly wants “his warm room, comfortably furnished with old family heirlooms, to be transformed into a lair in which he would certainly be able to crawl freely in any direction, but at the price of rapidly and completely forgetting his human past” (31). He is shocked to realize that for a while, part of him had been excited for the space to crawl around, but upon this realization, he longs for the comforts of a human life. Identity is formed in part by one’s family history and values, and by the values, interests, and memories as reflected by one’s possessions. He doesn’t want to let go of any of this, and seems to recognize that his very humanity has been compromised by his transformation. He still has the same thoughts, memories, and beliefs as he did as a human, but it’s unclear whether this is enough to make him human when his physical form is totally inhuman and starting to influence his behavior and desire.
With Gregor incapacitated by his metamorphosis, his father takes on a more powerful role and also grows more physically imposing; his identity is visible in his body and appearance. Formerly, with Gregor essentially acting as head of the household since he provided financially, the father was deprived of the traditional role. He “used to lie wearily buried in bed when Gregor left for a business trip; [he] welcomed his return in the evening by merely raising his arms to show his joy, not being quite able to get up” (34). Physically, he appeared weak, and Gregor felt as if he is responsible for his father. However, now he stands “erect, dressed in a tight blue uniform with gold buttons, like that of a bank messenger; his heavy double chin [bulges] over the high stiff collar of his jacket; from under the busy eyebrows his alert black eyes [flash] penetratingly; his previously disheveled white hair [is] combed flat, exactingly parted and gleaming” (35). With newfound power, he gains a new role and thus a new aspect to his identity. Now, he’s the primary provider for the Samsa family, and accordingly he starts to present himself as strong and dignified. The change in his appearance mirrors his change in attitude and position. He is so committed to this new identity that “out of some absurd obstinacy, the father [refuses] to take off his messenger’s uniform even in the house” (38). Gregor’s transformation is inexplicable, making Herr Samsa’s feel precarious. He clings to the main sign of his patriarchal role because his appearance reflects his power. Gregor ostensibly had no choice in his metamorphosis and subsequent loss of identity; his father’s conscious and adamant choice to always wear his uniform contrasts with his hopeless situation. If he always dresses the part, perhaps he will be able to hold onto his new role.
Grete also grows into a new identity – and grows up in general – following Gregor’s metamorphosis. As both of the parents are too wary of Gregor to take care of him, the sister takes on new responsibilities in order to feed him and keep his room clean, as well as support the parents by contributing to the running of the household. In the beginning, she is not particularly detailed, merely a worried young girl. However, throughout the piece she gains strength and independence through her caretaking of Gregor. She takes on an identity. Though her age isn’t mentioned, she appears to be a teenager, and she seems to come of age in the wake of Gregor’s transformation and as a result of her new role. By the end, “she [has] blossomed into a pretty and voluptuous young woman… [she jumps] to her feet and [stretches] her young body” (52). As with the father, Grete’s changing identity is reflected in her changing body. With Gregor’s death, the family is no longer held back by the terrible situation of being related to and therefore responsible for a vermin. Grete is beautiful and energetic, having broken free from her younger and unidentifiable self. Her responsibilities in this period have changed her body and her identity. Her internal changes are manifested in her outward growth and maturation, further suggesting that the body reflects identity in terms of one’s role. The language here evokes a metamorphosis of a very different kind than Gregor’s; she’s growing, maturing, and preparing for a new stage of life. It is implied that she is now ready to take on yet another new role, as a wife and mother. The jumping and stretching indicates that she will be exercising a newfound identity that’s emerged from her blossoming. In contrast to her brother who withers away, Grete embodies the very source of humanity by indicating her fertility.
Kafka connects physical and psychological change in The Metamorphosis. A physical transformation of outward appearance reflects inward change as a result of the adoption of a new role and identity. This work calls into question how much change can occur without entirely removing the original identity. As a result of Gregor’s physical metamorphosis into an insect, he loses his role as the provider of his family, and diminishes his attachment to memories and interests. Readers must face the question of whether he maintains his humanity despite his physical transformation – he retains his mind, but he dies in the end, unable to reconcile a new identity in this form. On the other hand, his father and his sister undergo their own physical changes less extreme than his but as a result of it, and they benefit from their subsequent new roles. His father is able to physically grow stronger and also become more authoritative and powerful, though before he inexplicably could not help support the family. Grete matures into a young woman physically and mentally, all in response to her new responsibilities she takes on because of the metamorphosis. This work is a reminder that people’s roles have a significant effect on one another; the physical transformations in the text represent the strength of the relationship between internal and external change. Kafka questions and ultimately denies Gregor’s humanity in rendering him useless and killing him; through his downfall, his family members grow more fully into their identities and their humanity. Though not transforming into new species, real people are constantly changing physically, sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly due to accidents or illnesses. The Metamorphosis points out that physical change, because of its entanglement with identity and humanity, forces some unfairly out of their roles while others take advantage of resulting opportunities.
The Theme Of Family And Duty in The Metamorphosis
Life is not just a routine pathway to the next offer or decision that awaits a person. Each morning, people wake up thinking about how predictable their life may be. They can brush their teeth, get their hair done, put clothes on and get out of the house all by the same time every day, to get to the same place, every day. However, Franz Kafka, author of novella, “The Metamorphosis” and Peter Kuper, author of graphic novel, “The Metamorphosis”, gave a different view on life, as they developed the storyline of a person, Gregor Samsa, missing out on his daily routine one morning due to a strange bodily change of him becoming a cockroach. This threw off his every day routine of getting out of bed, cleaning up, and getting to work on time, as it was his obligation to do so. This in turn, upset him very much, and it shows his parents concern, as well. The theme of family and duty is a key way, to notice the apprehension the characters’ face, within the text and the graphic novel.
Family and duty goes a long way, in a household. The relationship between a family strengthens the cause of the family’s love. Kafka wrote, “If I didn’t have my parents to think about I’d have given in my notice a long time ago…” In comparison, Kuper stated, “Once I’ve gotten the money to pay off my parents’ debt to him- in five or six years at most- then I’ll cut myself free!” Both of the statements have the same meaning and hold the same value to the accompanying text. To add to that, both quotes stated the importance of paying off his parents’ debt. This can create a sense of duty towards Gregor specifically, because he seems to be the only one in the family with a stable job. With Gregor turning into such an awkward insect, it makes it harder for Gregor to work through his duties that withhold him. His family, too, depend on him to fulfill each request given through his job, so he can eventually finish the payments due from his family members. The insect Gregor morphed into, symbolizes his importance of life. Just as a cockroach, Gregor has jobs to keep up with family members to care for, but the realistic perception of a roach’s life is of little value to the rest of the world. Roaches are able to endure through millions of years of natural and nuclear causes, yet can die at the foot of a human. Similar to a roach, Gregor was able to uphold all of his problems and still he lost his meaning within his family, only because he was unable to succeed at fulfilling his families’ duties. At the foot of his boss, he figuratively died, by him being stepped on from someone superior to him, just as roaches to humans.
As aforementioned, Gregor was used to his routine of work, whether he enjoyed it or not. Noticed by many, the structure of both written and pictured sources correspond with the timing of the story. The focus of the articles given, were on Gregor trying to make it to his job on time to maintain his duty in his household and support his family, yet the authors allow the audience to grasp the idea that these minor events are happening over a long period of time. To clarify, each event within the text talks about something anybody could do within minutes. For instance, it took Gregor most of the story to get out of bed. In reality, this would take a person a minimal amount of minutes to do. The exaggeration of each event relates to both of the authors use of Kafkaesque writing. The amount of time used to depict the story through the graphic novel seemed to have gone by much faster, then when reading the novella. This only may be, due to the fact that the novella included more words. Because of this, reading it may have taken a longer time to comprehend, while the pictorial view may have been easier to process. Time is a big key point in this entire story. Gregor mentions multiple times throughout the novella and graphic novel, how he would have already been at work, had he not been morphed into a cockroach. When reading the stories, if the audience is not fully aware of the time of day it is, then it may seem like it is taking him extremely long periods of time to explain one thing, while in reality, trying to express a thought through an image or piece of writing can be difficult. Both Kafka and Kuper, do an excellent job at managing chronology of the story.
In conclusion, these different styles in writing impact the theme in multiple ways. Kuper’s use of the modernized text allows the audience to understand the meaning more easily, which also allows the reader to make thorough connections to the theme of both stories. His language is effective in expressing the same points as Kafka, while being able to have visuals along with the writings. The graphic novel, although not using all information from the original story, held a sufficient amount of text to support each depiction within the story. When Kafka states, “However hard he threw himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was. He must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he wouldn’t have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt before.” In comparison, Kuper, within eight frames of the graphic novel, was able to depict Gregor tossing and turning to get on his right side. So, the two ways being shown allow the audience to receive the same emotion, but with more efficient evidence to maintain the same understanding. Family and duty are two parts of the theme of the story and were the most important topics of the story for the authors to address. Gregor’s duty in his family was to get to his job every day, but he is unable to succeed, one time. This just goes to show that, no matter how hard one may try to pursue goals in and outside of family matters, they may not always gain success. Both authors did an excellent job at expressing the theme of the text, through their different styles of writings.
A Transformation Of Character Of Guy Montag
In the beginning of “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, Guy Montag is at first shown as a bad person, however it is simply the times he lives in that makes him seem this way. Throughout this book he slowly changes to being confused about what is right and wrong, and eventually to doing the thing which he knows is right. He starts out as a Fireman, although not the kind you normally think of, in his time there is a ban on the ownership of any books and his job is to go out and burn them when they are found. He soon finds that things are not as good as they seem and that sometimes following orders is not always the right choice when the people giving them are unjust or corrupt.
In the Beginning of the book Montag just blindly follows what he is told, and while he does have a feeling that things are not right he does not act on them. “It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene on the world” (3). This shows that he is just enjoying the act of burning things because the firemen told him to do it. He is not questioning whether it is the right thing to do or thinking of the possible negative side effects of a world without books. When They get back to the fire house after the burning Bradbury describes how habitual Montag’s actions are, and how he doesn’t even have to think while doing them. “He hung up his black beetle-colored helmet and shined it; he hung his flameproof jacket neatly; he showered luxuriously, and then, whistling, hands in pockets, walked across the upper floor of the fire station and fell down the hole. At the last moment, when disaster seemed positive, he pulled his hands from his pockets and broke his fall by grasping the golden pole. He slid to a squeaking halt, the heels one inch from the concrete floor downstairs” (4). This shows that he does the same thing day in and day out. This causes him to do things without thinking about them, and thus do them without questioning whether he truly believes they are the right thing to do. This can be a very dangerous quality and can lead to many destructive things happening with little or no resistance against them.
Just a little bit into the book Montag meets a young woman named Clarisse McClellan, and she is the one who makes him start questioning if what he does is right. She begins asking him questions And she asked him if he was happy, he had a confused response. “ ‘Am I What?’ he cried. But she was gone-running into the moonlight. Her front door shut gently. ‘Happy! Of all the nonsense’”(10). This shows that he is so brainwashed into doing his job that he had never even thought about if he was happy doing his job. If he had thought about his job and what he was doing he should have at least had some idea, whether it was a yes or a no. The second thing that changed Montag was when his wife overdosed on sleeping pills. Two men came to pump her stomach and when he realized they were not acting professional and that they were not doctors he asked them why doctors were not sent, and they said “ We get these cases nine or ten a night. Got so many, starting a few years ago, we had special machines built. With the optical lens, of course, that was new; the rest is ancient. You don’t need an M.D., case like this” (16). After hearing this Montag realizes that human lives are being valued less in the new society and that this is a problem that he had never thought of before. The last big thing that changed him was when he went to another call for the firemen and he saw a women go to kill herself rather than lose her precious collection of books. After covered all the books and most of the house with kerosene they were trying to convince the women to leave but instead she made a move nobody expected. “She opened the fingers of one hand slightly and in the palm of the hand was a single slender object. An ordinary kitchen match. […] the woman on the porch reached out with contempt to them all and struck the kitchen match against the railing” (41-42). This showed Montag that books could be so meaningful to people that keeping them are worth their lives. This was really the final straw in Montag’s change.
After all that he has gone through Montag no longer follows what people tell him blindly and he is free thinking for the first time throughout the story. Montag shows his secret stash of books to Millie and when she freaks out what he says really shows his new character, he says “We can’t burn these. I want to look at them, at least look at them once. Then if what the Captain says is true, we’ll burn them together, believe me” (71). Here Montag clearly shows that he is thinking for himself and not following what people tell him to do, this is a huge change in his character. Later after he has read some of the books he knows he has to turn one back in to the fire captain but he doesn’t know which one, he said “It might be the last copy in this part of the world[…] I don’t think he knows which book I stole. But how do I choose a substitute? Do I turn in Mr. Jefferson? Mr. Thoreau? Which is least valuable? If I pick a substitute and Beatty does know which book I stole, he’ll guess we’ve an entire library here!” (82). Here Montag is thinking very logically and doing everything he can to preserve the book. This is something he would have never done at the beginning of the book. However Montag’s True rebelious nature truly come out with a plan created by him and Faber, in Faber’s words the plan is “the fireman structure itself could be burnt. Now, if you suggest that we print extra books and arrange to have them hidden in firemen’s houses all over the country, so that seeds of suspicion would be sown among these arsonists” (93). This shows Montag taking it a step farther than just thinking for himself and actually rebelling against the group of people he was once a part of because he now knows that what they do is wrong.
Montag undergoes a metamorphosis from a person who is naive and simply follows orders to a rebellious man who fights for what he believes in throughout this book. This is a major change and shows that people truly can make drastic changes in their life if people simply make their own decisions instead of the ones that people around them are making. Montag’s change is for
The Road Is a Post-Apocalyptic Novel by The American Writer Cormac McCarthy
The metamorphic and literal aspects vary from old to new worlds; however, father-son rituals of the old world are similar in the new world as exhibited in ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy.
The novel presents the story of a father and a son who belong to the post-apocalyptic world. McCarthy has portrayed a dark world that has a light of love bonding between father and son relationship. The story is about their journey on US roads towards the South. The environment and the new world are remnants of the old world where few amenities are available. The father and son, along their journey, undergo different events that highlight the strength of their relationship. The feeling of protection, care, and affection father possesses for his son is similar to the old world. For instance, from the start of the journey, the father keeps a pistol with him to protect the boy. Both wander around remnants of the old world, and man remembers about the life he lived once with his wife. At different places, they move, man always thinks about his boy, e.g., at a grocery store, a man finds Coca-Cola in a pop machine and retrieves it for the boy. He wants to offer some pleasant moments for the boy.
The story provides an idea about reality and gives real-life lessons that man wants her boy to comprehend. Man as a father wants to teach a lesson to his son, such as he explains son that road agents or bad guys always harm others, but they are good guys themselves who believe in justice, care and humanity. During their journey, when they come across a waterfall, the father teaches the boy how to swim. Being a tender moment, the event suggests a lesson that father gives his son and it is again similar to the rituals of the old world, where father acts like a teacher in different instances of life.
The novel demonstrates that the prevalence of love in the toughest moments of life is consistent in new and old worlds. The father-son bonding is unique, unconditional, and continuous through the dystopian world. Despite limited resources, fewer supplies of food and clothing, and starving father supports son and arranges something to eat for him. The love and care of the father can be seen when they go to a town, and in the house, man cuts his boy’s hair and shaves. The man considers his son a holy object, something sacred which is gifted by God. He also thinks that son is a kind of light bestowed on him by God, and it is proof that God exists. During their journey, the man finds an old orchard of dried apples and collects them for the boy. During the pressing, cold, rain, and starving moments, man thinks about the future of his son and plans to push his son regarding extreme measures for his survival.
The intense bonding of father-son allows for sacrifice and commitment. Since the son is the only light of the dark life of the father, he wants to lit his future and fosters onto carrying the fire that can help him make his way, after his father. McCarthy has also presented some emblematic and physical divergences in two generations, i.e., father and son.
Concluding the analysis, it is clear that ‘The Road’ offers a physical setting in the form of the journey on-road as well as the mental environment of a father. Common teaching elements that the father taught his son are about peace, justice, humanity, love, being helpful to others, and never giving up. The novel presents the journey of a person with multiple obstacles, yet if positive lessons are there, troubles can be overcome. McCarthy, through a cyclical human nature, offers clarity of life and presence of God.
Gregor Samsa Death: Was There Another Option?
I hate the summer. The heat, the sweat, the smells, and especially the bugs. You know what I’m talking about; you’re sitting around a bonfire with your friends, but you can’t enjoy it because of all the bugs flying around your face, biting at your ankles or crawling down your shirt. It honestly sucks, and it’s such an inconvenience when you’re trying to live your life and have fun. Though, what if, you knew one of those bugs personally? Perhaps, as personally as your brother? It’s quite a strange thought, am I right? Well, Franz Kafka actually tackles this what-if in his short story called Metamorphosis.
The story begins with traveling salesman and breadwinning, Gregor Samsa, waking up in bed to find that he has turned into a huge bug. After realizing he can’t hide it, his boss discovers him right before his family does. Instead of contacting authorities or seeking help like a mentally healthy family would, Gregor’s family dismisses him and doesn’t even speak to him. Initially, his sister Grete brings him scraps to eat, but eventually passes the job onto the cleaning lady. Though Gregor ultimately learns to accept his new body, his family can’t seem to accept him. His father starts to take Gregor’s place as head of the house, before the family is put into a severe financial situation. Along with his newfound manhood, Gregor’s father asserts himself by hitting Gregor, keeping Gregor’s mother from him, and throwing an apple into his shell, severely injuring him. On top of the abuse, after some time Gregor hears his sister say that they would be better without him, so he does what he thinks would be best for his family. The story ends with Gregor ending his life, and his family moving and talking about marrying Grete off. I believe that Gregor wouldn’t have killed himself if it wasn’t for his father, and that his family could have helped or prevented his death.
I will begin with Grete, because though I believe she pulled the final straw before Gregor decided to kill himself, I don’t believe she is at much fault as their father. After Gregor first metamorphizes, Grete begins to bring him dinner and milk. After realizing Gregor doesn’t like regular food anymore and would prefer to have scraps, she brings them to him and talks at him. In the beginning Grete didn’t want to cut her brother off, but the influence from her parents drove her to the point that she believed the family would be better off without him.
One reason I firmly believe that Gregor’s suicide could be blamed on his father is because he never even tried to help him. Shortly after learning about what Gregor has transformed into, instead of looking for help, he physically forced him back into his room. Gregor initially frightens his mother, and in response his father beings to threaten and chase him with a cane and rolled newspaper to his bedroom door, where he then has troubles fitting through it. Instead of helping Gregor, his father shoves him so hard he’s bleeding, and then “the door was banged to with the stick, and at last there was silence” (Kafka, 1404). As stated before, Gregor was the breadwinner, meaning that he was the man of the house. I believe that his father was disappointed in his son for failing the family, and he just wanted to shove him aside and forget that this had happened. I think that his father shoving him in isolation is a good metaphor for trying to forget about crappy things that happen, or just not dealing with them at all. The blood that is coming from Gregor can also represent the consequences of putting shitty things aside. Not only is this repulsive, this is such a cruel way to treat your child, regardless of whether or not he has turned into a giant bug overnight. I wish I could say this is the only example, but sadly for poor Gregor, there’s plenty more.
Gregor’s father seems to have a masculinity that he depends on, and he can’t have damaged. The reason I say this is because we’ve all met guys who have strong egos, and can’t have those egos hurt or it means they are, “less of a man”. This is the type of person I think of when I read about Gregor’s father. Example one of this would be when he keeps Gregor’s mother and sister from seeing Gregor, even though they want to. He is trying to take back control of his house, and he doesn’t want Gregor to get in the way of that or slowing him down. Another great example would have to be at the end of the story, when Gregor’s life starts to come to an end. Gregor’s father chased him down, and started to throw apples at him, until one became lodged up inside of him, nearly making him paralyzed. His family didn’t care, and his father seemed to be amused by Gregor’s pain and immobilization. I feel like as Gregor became more weak and disliked, the family loved and depended on the father more, which he soaked up like water.
In conclusion, I believe that Gregor Samsa didn’t deserve to die, and he definitely didn’t deserve all the terrible things that he had to go through. His family could have stopped his fate, but instead they encouraged and participated in it. I believe what Franz Kafka was trying to get us to understand in this story is that everyone has feelings, and everyone wants to be treated nicely. I believe he wanted us to walk away with the thought of to not judge a book by its cover, and to think before we act.
The Appropriate Age for Children to Read The Metamorphosis of Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka for First Year Experience at School
I believe that students should be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of their minds (King James Version, Rom. 12.2). When new freshmen begin their matriculation to CSM, they are starting their lives as adults. Because the incoming students’ lives are changing, they should read a book that gives them a new insight to changing and adapting.
CSM’s vision statement is “Transforming lives through lifelong learning and service.” New students attending CSM should read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka because it will inspire them to look at their lives from a new perspective. The book is a modernist fiction that takes place during the early 20th century. In The Metamorphosis, the main character is Gregor Samsa. Gregor is faced with providing for his family, and then one day he turns into a bug. Over the course of the book, we see how this affects his family and his humanity. A book with a subject this intriguing will lead students to be entertained and captivated by a subject that’s also philosophical.
Reading this book for the First Year Experience will exercise their critical thinking. While this book is a short read, it is also complex and profound. I would say that it is difficult to understand completely in one sitting. The students may want to re-read it and analyze it, encouraging their reading and critical thinking habits. For example, students may be lead to question the nature of consciousness. How can we know when to trust our perceptions? Early in the novel, as Gregor understands his new physical state, the narrator tells us “At all costs he must not lose consciousness right now.” It is important for students to remain conscious of the present and not allow their minds to be clouded by previous occurrences as it can impact future decisions. Students need to remain consciously aware and analyze situations logically.
Many questions can be raised from this book. One quote from part three of the books says “a requirement of family duty is to suppress one’s aversion and to endure—nothing else, just endure,” (pg.51). This quote to me explains how many students may feel about their responsibility to family as they transition into adulthood and try to achieve a higher education. They may begin to question how important family is to them and if they are willing to set other things aside because of that responsibility. This book also raises questions about hopelessness and humanity. On page 65-68 Gregors sister (Grete) pleads with her parents to get rid of Gregor. To Grete, her brother no longer exists. Gregor as the insect is a burden to their lives, and Grete believes her real brother would have left voluntarily when seeing the hardships his transition has caused. These few pages alone can spark a conversation about what it means to be human. The struggles the Samsa family goes through in this story can apply to real life. Students can reflect on the similarities and raise questions in their lives.
Some people on the committee may be concerned that The Metamorphosis discourages students to transform because the main protagonist ceases to change. Throughout the novel as Gregor physically changes his mentality stays the same. He is trapped in a life he does not want to live; he does things out of responsibility. The novel raises questions of the value of a feeling of duty to family vs. duty to oneself. This is a typical question for study in the liberal arts, so exposure to such questions prepares students better for the college experience. I believe that students may see this in themselves and seek to pursue things that make them happy. Others on the committee may see this book as too dark for incoming freshmen. Young adults go through their own inner turmoil. This book could add a new insight, leading them to branch out of their comfort zones, unlike the central character of The Metamorphosis. One example of Gregor’s retreat into the self is this: Gregor describes how he presses his body against the door to listen to his father speak because it brings him joy in his imprisonment. Though nothing is keeping him imprisoned except for himself, as he could have left at any time if he wanted. Gregor accepted his new form and kept himself hidden for the sake of his family, knowing how it burdened them. Students may see his various disconnections in this novel and make a change. Gregor is accepting of whoever he is expected to be. Incoming students may begin to challenge that and push themselves to achieve personal goals.
The back cover of The Metamorphosis says that the novel is often cited as one of the seminal works of short fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world. This means there are many materials and discussions out there for CSM and the new students to review and use. This will promote students to jump into that discussion with others and further their learning. Students at CSM have a responsibility as engaged learners to use their ideas to contribute to the academic community. They will gain more comfort in expressing ideas and opinions if they are engaged in a fascinating subject. As they contribute to the discussion and learn from professors and peers, they will have a desire to continue to learn and express ideas. It will turn into a cycle of education.
A Family Influence in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis
The Symbolic Measures of Gregor in The Metamorphosis
“The Metamorphosis” is an awe inspiring piece of literature that entraps the reader by Franz Kafka’s haunting style and layers of symbolism embedded in his writing. In Franz Kafka’s, “The Metamorphosis”, Gregor Samsa was physically transformed into a bug, but with the transformation came the realization that the real parasite was Gregor’s family. This is exemplified by the results of the change in socioeconomic class of Gregor Samsa himself, before the metamorphosis, and his family’s afterwards, the burden that Gregor had pose, and the altering of Gregor and Grete’s relationship throughout the story.
A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense. Pre-metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa was the financial backbone, providing more than enough to pay off his family’s debt to his superior, and allowing them to live comfortably. However, this drained Gregor. Throughout the story it was displayed that Gregor wanted to benefit his family while they deprived Gregor of what he wanted. It was clear that Gregor did not want to work but did so out of obligation; Gregor was too dependent on his family to do this, he relied on his family emotionally as they used to depend on him financially. “Well, there’s hope yet; as soon as I’ve saved enough money to pay back what my parents owe him- that should take another five or six years- I’ll go do it for sure. Then I’ll cut myself completely free” (Kafka 303). Gregor realized that he was simply a slave to the society around him and his family. He would never serve the purpose that he, himself, would’ve wanted. Critic Walter Sokel noted that Gregor only served those around him. “Gregor Samsa’s transformation into vermin presents self-alienation in a literal way, not merely a customary metaphor become fictional fact […] No manner more drastic could illustrate the alienation of a consciousness from its own being than Gregor Samsa’s startled and startling awakening” (Sokel 216). Gregor was seen by his family and the community around him as a worker. He was to do nothing more but provide the service that he was responsible for. The metamorphosis was not only a physical transformation, but also the transformation of Gregor as he finally began to realize what he was in the eyes of society and his parasitic family, and with the metamorphosis came not only clarity, but his demise.
Without his work, Gregor lost his own status in life. The family shut him out and began to realize they were forced to depend on themselves. They rented out a room and each acquired their own job, grudgingly. The parents loved the way of life they had achieved pre-metamorphosis. They never had to work or worry financially, achieving a level of leisure and comfort that they had adjusted to. Gregor’s father was set off by their predicament, and continued to maintain a job in spite of his age and physical injuries. “What a life. So this is the peace of my old age” (Kafka 322), the father’s disgruntledness is justifiable, since this would be his point of retirement. Instead of the peace that he had envisioned for himself and his wife, they are stuck working and taking care of what used to be their desired son. Finances tend to bring a level of stress on anybody, but this was much more for the family not only because of the amount of loss they had endured, but also the new burden Gregor posed.
The parents are hard working people, and they show respect for those who contribute something. In the beginning, they were doing everything to keep Gregor out of trouble from his boss, making excuses and pleading with his manager. However, once he stopped providing any benefit to the family they wanted nothing to do with him, only furthering the parasitic nature. This affects not only Gregor, but also Grete. Kafka pointed out that their parents were more or less bothered with Grete because she lived a cushioned life, “he frequently heard them remarking how much they appreciated his sister’s efforts, whereas previously they’d often been annoyed with her for being, in their eyes, somewhat useless” (316). When she began taking over control of Gregor’s hospitality, they began to show her respect and listened to her. Gregor was the burden that nobody wanted.
He was a burden to himself because he desperately wanted to be helpful and solve the problem. He couldn’t though, and he knew he wouldn’t last locked in a dark room. Professor Fernando Bermejo Rubio saw the abusive absence of his family and the effect it had on Gregor, “Gregor is presented always at his family’s beck and call. His emotional dependence is graphically expressed in the image of a Gregor who, every time he hears the others speak, rushes immediately to the door, As a result, his self perception is heavily, even decisively, influenced by the judgments of his three relatives, even when they are unfair” (292). They no longer saw him as Gregor, and saw him as “that thing.”
Gregor and Grete’s relationship was a main example of parasitic behavior. The metamorphosis caused Grete to become resentful towards Gregor, the responsibility of the household became hers, resulting in resentment fueled by this newfound responsibility. Gregor expressed that he felt close to Grete, compared to their parents, and was conscious of what Grete would’ve liked. Covering himself with a sheet was his own way of respecting their newfound boundaries. Grete’s overtaking of responsibilities gained a new level of authority and respect for her from the parents. Grete no longer thought of the bug as Gregor, was no longer conscious of him as a being, “I refuse to utter my brother’s name in the presence of this monster, and so all I have to say is: we’ve got to get rid of it” (Kafka 327). Grete’s turn on Gregor was the hardest on him. He had gone through this enormous change for himself, only leading to his own suffering, because his family stopped providing him the emotional support he needed. After the collapse of their mother, Grete’s actions set in stone the way she felt towards Gregor, “Grete’s rejection of Gregor takes a twofold form: words and gestures. The words, the first ones that Grete had addressed directly to her brother since his transformation, adopt the form of a threat. Also note that Grete’s fist evokes the same gesture used by the father” (Rubio 286). Grete was the last thing Gregor was holding onto. Her growing absence drained him, leaving him with no emotional attachment to want to be alive. He wanted her support and compassion, but the more he tried to do as his family wanted, it furthered the resentment Grete expressed on her brother.
The story can be related to any family because it makes one question who is the bug and who is the parasite. Every family has them. Alfred Kampf, a friend of Kafka, questioned the meaning behind the story and asked, “Is it perhaps delicate and discreet to talk about one’s own family?” (Kafka 353) Kafka wouldn’t openly disclose the meaning behind much of the story, leaving it open to interpretation. Literally, Gregor Samsa was the bug of the family. The metamorphosis created a burden to himself and his family emotionally and socioeconomically. However, the three family members showed a greater transformation than Gregor had because they exemplified the true actions of a bug.