If you were to ask every person who they trust the most, or who they can’t live without, the most common answer would probably be a family member. Family is who we grow up with, first learn to love, and turn to in times of distress. This ultimately leads to a deep and unbreakable sense of love and loyalty. But is it truly unbreakable? In the novella The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, although loyalty amongst family is found in the story, what is also found is that independence can bring an end to family loyalty. In the story, it is clear that Gregor’s family displays less loyalty to him after his transformation, the point at which they gain independence. While this is true for his family as a whole, it is especially true for the relationship he has with his sister Grete. Kafka displays this idea in several ways. For one, the very name Metamorphosis hints to much more than what it is taken as at face value. In reality, it is not just the “physical” transformation of Gregor into a gigantic insect which is described as a metamorphosis; it is also each family member’s physical and emotional changes, one of which is their attitude towards Gregor. Second, Gregor being a bug is symbolic of how he feels like vermin, and he feels that their affection isn’t genuine. Thirdly, Gregor’s lack of ability to communicate with his parents, while explainable on the surface as him being physically unable to, can also be explained as a metaphorical demonstration of how he has been exploited and used as a mere breadwinner. Once his family no longer depends on him, communication disintegrates, for he ceases to exist as a family member in their eyes.
Before dissecting the novella’s meaning and theme, it’s important to ask: What is the true metamorphosis which takes place? We can be inclined to state the obvious, namely Gregor’s transformation into a bug, but a deeper look into the story indicates otherwise. First of all, does Gregor truly become a bug? A look at...
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