Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis:
From dependence to independence
As humans, we are dependent creatures. We are dependent on things like our environment, our financial situation, and our social status. In short, we are dependent on one level or another. Thus, when our surroundings change, in our dependency, we must change as well. We are forced to evolve and to adapt to our new surroundings. We must learn to live with our new conditions. In Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, the transformation of Gregor Samsa leads to the transformation of the rest of his family. They are dependent upon Gregor and when he changes, they are forced to change as well. There was always an antithetical relationship between Gregor and the rest of his family. Thus there are two metamorphoses in Kafka's story: when Gregor functioned as a human, the rest of the family is dysfunctional; when Gregor, due to his metamorphosis, became increasingly dysfunctional, the rest of the family began to function and flourish. Almost immediately after Gregor's transformation we begin to note his dysfunctional behavior. He wakes up an insect and instead of focusing on the problem that being an insect presents, he is worried about getting out of bed and going to work. “No matter how hard he threw himself onto his right side, he always rolled onto his back again. He must have tried it a hundred times, closing his eyes so that he would not have to see the wriggling legs, and gave up only when he began to feel a light, dull pain in his side which he had never felt before. "O God,” he thought, “what a demanding job I’ve chosen!” This shows the reader immediately that there is something very wrong with Gregor. Considering his current condition of being an insect, it is difficult to understand how his daily responsibilities could be the first thing on his mind. This is the first step towards his dysfunctional state.
However, prior to his transformation, Gregor is very functional, meanwhile, his family is not. Perhaps this is because Gregor's ability to function depends on his ability to work. Before he transforms, being in full capability to work, his efficiency is at its best. His family's dilemma of paying off debts motivates him to work hard to bring money home and to satisfy his family. “And so he had set to work with unusual ardor and almost overnight had become a traveling salesman instead of a little clerk, with of course much greater chances of earning money, and his success was immediately transformed into hard cash which he could lay on the table before his amazed and happy family.” Gregor's ability to maintain his family gives him control over them, thus making him the only one serviceable, while they are forced to depend on him: "...although later on Gregor had earned so much money that he was able to meet the expenses of the whole household and did so...the money was gratefully accepted and gladly given..." Gregor's function is dependent on their dependence. Yet, what truly makes Gregor purposeful is his family's dysfunction. While his family is incapable of maintaining themselves and while they are reliant on his income, Gregor can keep his position of control over the family issues and keep his ability to function he improves where they deteriorate and he strengthens where they weaken. “...he [Gregor's father] had done no work for the past five years and could not be expected to exert himself; during these five years, the first years of leisure in his laborious though unsuccessful life, he had put on a lot of weight and become sluggish. And Gregor's old mother, how was she to earn a living with her asthma, which troubled her even when she walked through the apartment and kept her lying on a sofa every other day panting for breath beside an open window? And was his sister to earn her bread, she who was still a child of seventeen...?” It is Gregor's days as a commercial salesman that are his days of purpose. Once Gregor transforms he is unable to work, thus...
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