Professor Angevine; English R1A
M, W 4-5:30
19 October 2014
Gregor’s World-Changing Transformation
“What is Art?” by Leo Tolstoy defines art as having the ability of “joining [men] together in the same feelings” as well as promoting the “well-being of individuals and of humanity” (Tolstoy 6). As long as the narrator is successful in making the reader relive his emotions, then he has successfully created a work of art. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, fits Tolstoy’s definition of art because the masterpiece provides a way for the audience to sympathize with Gregor Samsa’s feelings of alienation as he turns into a vermin, and reminds us of what it is like to feel rejected and insignificant. Although the complexity of the novel challenges Tolstoy’s definition of art, most readers derive the same feeling and moral message towards the novel. Kafka paints a vivid picture of Gregor’s misery through the use of irony and third-person limited narration to make the audience feel the negative effects of isolation and alienation in our society as a whole. Kafka uses irony to portray the severity of the Samsa Family’s actions towards Gregor and how their actions make the readers feel. Gregor’s experience is ironic because his family acts in the opposite way of what’s expected. Before the family was aware of Gregor’s transformation into a vermin, his door was locked and everyone was dying to get in. This highlight’s the family’s superficiality as they wait for him to go to work and support them rather than care for his well-being. When they realize that he has morphed into a vermin, although the doors remained unlocked, they completely stop all interaction with him. This fits the irony because even though he is still part of their family and has human feelings, he is so alienated from them based on his physical form that they feel no need to continue contacting him at all. On another note, Gregor’s actual metamorphosis can be regarded as a dark blessing because it releases him from all of the pressures of daily life and family. Gregor also experiences his own personal irony as he learns things about himself in this “absurd” form that he hadn’t noticed before as a human. For the first time, he recognizes the beauty in Grete’s violin music, “Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for were coming to light” (Kafka 46). In this moment, Gregor realizes his dehumanization is limited to his physical appearance as he is still enjoying the beauty of music—a quality only attainable by humans. Overall, the actions of the Samsa family show the folly of human nature as they alienate their son rather than help him. The readers sympathize with Gregor because of the horrible way he was treated simply due to his physical appearance without regarding anything else. Kafka employs a third-person limited narrative in The Metamorphosis in order to share the protagonist’s innermost thoughts and feelings with the audience so that we may feel his emotions. The story is mainly told through the perspective of Gregor Samsa, as if the narrator were planted within Gregor's human conscious inside Gregor's insect body. We discover aspects of Gregor's body as he himself discovers them. If he itches, we don't know why until he looks to see what's making him itch. If he's hungry, we don't know what he likes to eat until he discovers his preference for rotten foods. This allows the readers to empathize with everything he goes through. After his transformation, Grete immediately cares for him and his needs because she still recognizes him as her brother, “But he would never have been able to guess what his sister, in the goodness of her heart, actually did. To find out his likes and dislikes, she brought him a wide assortment of things, all spread out on an old newspaper…” (Kafka 23). Gregor perceives Grete very positively because unlike the rest of his family, Grete...
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