Life as a Bug

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Katie Turner
World Lit
April 24, 2012
Life as a Bug

In Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis, the transformation of Gregor Samsa into a beetle encompasses the reality of the human experience as one of being responsible for one’s own happiness and destiny through personal responsibility. The character of Gregor Samsa is depicted as dependable, loyal and caring, yet one who does not receive the love, credit nor respect that he most assuredly deserves. The setting of the story is limited to the confines of the family apartment, which Gregor alone provides for the comfort of his thankless parents and sister, creating the perspective of the loneliness that pervades Gregors entire existence. Kafka’s use of the theme of transformation, Gregor’s isolation and perspective cleverly construct a basis for empathy over Gregor’s vulnerable situation rather than the natural repulsion normally felt regarding vermin.

The prevailing theme of transformation is the foundation throughout Kafka’s novella. Focusing on the transformation of Gregor Samsa significantly highlights his contribution to the dysfunction of the family unit as a whole. Clearly before and after the change Gregor displays honorable qualities, such as his work ethic, his desire to furnish a privileged existence for the family and to educate his sister, which appears to be a foreign concept to his family. Gregor undergoes physical changes, as in, “One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin” (1999). These changes filter over into his voice, taste preferences and eyesight, yet he remains the same in his thought process, desperately wanting to continue providing for the family in the fashion to which they had become accustomed. As Gregor’s ongoing situation disintegrates he is viewed as a nuisance, whom is dealt with in a less than humane manner. As Gregor’s family abandons him the result is the filth that...
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