The Metamorphosis & Existentialism

Good Essays
Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a masterfully written novella about Gregor Samsa, a man who devotes his life to his family and work, for nothing in return. Only when he is transformed into a helpless beetle does he begin to develop a self-identity and understand the relationships around him. The underlying theme of The Metamorphosis is an existential one that says that any given choice will govern the later course of a person’s life and that a person has ultimate will over making choices. In this case, Gregor’s choices of his part in society cause him to have a lack of identity that has made him to be numb to everything around him. One morning Gregor awakens to find himself transformed into a beetle. Although the reader is never enlightened on how Gregor morphed into a beetle, or shown that Gregor gives much thought to having a body of an insect, Kafka gives the strong impression that Gregor is very devoted to his work and is the sole support of the family, none of which work themselves. Gregor devotes himself to a life of work and self-sacrifice, “[d]ay in, day out- on the road” (Kafka 4), following ever order, and expectation to a scurrilous degree. His life could be linked to that of a drone in an ant colony, and thus gives an explanation to Kafka’s logic when he is transformed into an insect, and thinks nothing of it. In fact upon finding himself transformed he immediately prioritizes his work above everything else; The next train left at seven o’clock; to make it, he would have to hurry like a madman, and the line of samples wasn’t packed yet, and he himself didn’t feel especially fresh and ready to march around. (5) Through his transformation into a beetle, Gregor abandons his mislead obligation to society and instead devotes the rest of his life to himself. Because of this Gregor’s family quickly grows to resent him as a burden to the household. Society and his family had no further use for him, so Gregor starves to death is his bedroom.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines existentialism as a concept of “[assuming] ultimate responsibility for acts of free will,” this meaning that a person has control over their ultimate destination in life through the choices they make. Some may say that this describes Metamorphosis and the journey that Gregor undertakes. The novella is, in truth, a perfect example of the opposite of existentialism. The first counter-argument to the idea of existentialism that presents itself in the novella was…

    • 577 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Existentialist school of thought poses that humans live in an irrational universe and try, to no avail, to forge meaning out of the chaos and stress. Franz Kafka expresses this sentiment in his novella, Metamorphosis, in which Gregor Samsa awakes to find he has transformed into a human-sized dung beetle and struggles to maintain that which makes him human. Through Kafka’s expression of Existential ideas of living-for-others and isolation, the author encapsulates Gregor’s descent into animalistic…

    • 481 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    the opinions of their loved ones, others do not forget to factor the ideals of human existentialism. In order to appropriately approach the point brought across, one must factor in the underlying tone of the existentialist values of ‘The Metamorphosis’ as written by Frank Kafka. Although many existentialist philosophers hold conflicting values across the board, there are many key traits that follow existentialism. Therefore, I am inclined to, due to my level of understanding remain impartial towards…

    • 549 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Existentialism “We are thrown into existence first without a predetermined nature and only later do we construct our nature or essence through our actions.”(Existentialism)This quote is present through the main characters of The Stranger, Blade Runner, and The Metamorphosis in each of these works the characters create their own nature. These works are similar several ways; in all three the men create their own nature by the free choices they make. Through these choices they also create their…

    • 1114 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    existentialism

    • 1161 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Paul Abante Mrs. Bugni English 12 honors 5 January 2015 Existentialism Life’s remorseless nature presents uncontrollable situations to everyone at the most unexpected times. Like any game of cards, life deals a set of cards that a player is forced to play. This is known as agency; the concept that each human individual within a culture has the ability to determine and choose by free will his or her actions. Some prime examples that shine this principle is Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”…

    • 1161 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    Existentialism

    • 1423 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Existentialism Essay Existentialism is a vast and detailed philosophy that supports a diverse collection of responses and solutions to the ‘existentialist attitude’, which is what an individual feels when confronted by the absurdity of life. In “Eveline”, James Joyce tells a story about a nineteen year old girl that is about to leave home. She has fallen in love with a sailor named Frank who promises to take her with him to Buenos Aires. She must make a decision on whether to stay with her father…

    • 1423 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    Existentialism

    • 952 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Existentialism The term existentialism has been applied to the human subject in all aspects of the individual. Through the ideas of existentialism, philosophers have looked at the existence of the human being. An existential attitude of the world is one of confusion and belief in a meaningless world. The beliefs of existentialism came about as a complete change from the beliefs of periods like the Romantic period. This philosophical view of life came about in the 19th century. These ideas…

    • 952 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Existentialism

    • 503 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Period 5 Existentialism Existentialism focuses on the idea that life has no meaning and is considered absurd. Existential philosophers believe that humans create their own values and determine a meaning for their lives because, from the start, the human being does not possess any inherent value or identity. “Existence precedes essence” is one of the most well-known existential statements and describes how our concrete being is more important than its purpose. The existentialism movement introduced…

    • 503 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Existentialism

    • 6029 Words
    • 25 Pages

    Review of World Literature in English, Vol. 1, No. I – Jan, 2005 EXISTENTIALISM IN ANITA DESAI’S FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN NAGAPPAN SETHURAMAN Existentialism as a philosophy is historically and culturally of European origin. Ever since it was recognised as the dominating philosophy of the West in the midtwentieth century, it has left “its impact on literature [which] has both been substantial and significant” (Chatterji 10). Existentialism does not offer a set of doctrines or a single philosophy system…

    • 6029 Words
    • 25 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Existentialism

    • 270 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Existentialism is defined as the idea that man creates his own experiences and responsibilities. You can either be a pessimistic existentialist or an optimistic existentialist. A pessimistic existentialist is a person that has a negative outlook on life. They are usually more realistic about the way that things can turn out. This prepares them for something bad to happen, so they won’t be surprised and will be able to deal with it. Being a pessimist can also have some negative effects though. If…

    • 270 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays