Ripples of Metamorphoses
Butterflies are not the only creatures that are subject to experience metamorphosis. All beings, including humans, experience certain changes throughout their lives. Interconnectedness between individuals reveals even a single change cannot go undetected. Metamorphosis is an important motif in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, which symbolizes not only Gregor’s transformation, but also the change in the Samsa family as a whole, as well as Grete in particular. Gregor’s metamorphosis is the main symbol of metamorphosis in the story. His transfiguration into a bug changes him not only physically, but also mentally. At first, he is hopeful his physical state is only a momentary medical condition. The concern Gregor’s family initially portray supports Gregor’s belief that he is only temporarily a bug. Kafka describes Gregor’s confidence, “The positive certainty with which these first measures had been taken comforted him. He felt himself drawn once more into the human circle and hoped for great and remarkable results…”(Kafka 155). At this point Gregor is still hopeful and optimistic. He asserts to the chief clerk, “I have to provide for my parents and my sister. I'm in great difficulties, but I'll get out of them again” (156). Although Gregor is in no condition to work he exclaims, “But what’s the use of lying idle in bed” (149). By supporting his family financially, Gregor is essential to the Samsas and feels needed. Without the ability to provide for his family, Gregor is no longer a valuable asset to the Samsas. As time progresses, Gregor’s optimism and high spirits dwindle. He loses interest in things that once brought him joy, staring out of the window in “some recollection of the sense of freedom that looking out of a window always used to give him” (166). Formerly having a strong appetite, Gregor begins to lose “any interest he had ever taken in food, so that for mere recreation he had formed the habit of crawling crisscross over the walls and ceiling” (168). Grete notices how Gregor likes to crawl on the walls and has the idea that Gregor would appreciate a more spacious room. She decides to clear everything our of Gregor’s room to allow him more crawling space. Gregor is happy about the idea at first until he realizes his possessions are the last indicators of his humanity: Gregor realized that the lack of all direct human speech for the past two months together with the monotony of family life must have confused his mind, otherwise he could not account for the fact that he had quite earnestly looked forward to having his room emptied of furnishing. Did he really want his warm room, so comfortably fitted with old family furniture, to be turned into a naked den in which he would certainly be able to crawl unhampered in all directions but at the price of shedding simultaneously all recollection of his human background (170)? Gregor realizes the extent to which his transformation has altered his mentality, and wants to resist any further change. Grete, however, disregards this insight and Gregor’s belongings are cleared out. Gregor observes as pieces of his furniture are carried out one by one, stripping the room of all of Gregor’s human possessions. He decides if anything is to stay, it must be his beloved picture. “He clung to his picture and would not give it up. He would rather fly in Grete's face” (172). This is the first instance Gregor displays thoughts of aggressive behavior, contrasting his submissive nature at the beginning of his transformation. Gregor’s change in emotion illustrates Kafka’s notion that people’s experiences cause their attitudes to change. Metamorphosis is a symbol of change. Gregor’s condition now leaves him feeling restless; he “hardly slept at all by night or by day” (177). He feels alienated, expressing how he feels not “in the mood to bother about his family, he was only filled with rage at the way they were neglecting him” (177). As Gregor’s room gets dirtier...
Cited: Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Kennedy and Gioia. 146-89. Print.
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