Utilitarianism in "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka

Topics: The Metamorphosis, Short story, Gregor Samsa Pages: 4 (1312 words) Published: October 11, 2005
What if, one day, this person is crossing the street on his way to work and a speeding car hit him. Due to the impact, he loses consciousness. The next day he wakes up in the hospital and is paralyzed. What would this man's first thought be? Of course, he would question why that he is paralyzed and if this illness is curable. Unlike the character in my parable, the main character in Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis," worries about the most unlikely things. Although Gregor Samsa had awoken to discover that he is an insect, he is afraid that he will be late for work and as a result he will lose his job. As a result of this behavior, Gregor Samsa is a perfect example of utilitarianism in the early 20th century. Comparatively, Gregor's family is also exemplified through utilitarianism.

In part one of the short story, Gregor Samsa had awoken from "uneasy dreams" and was "transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect" (40 Short Stories, 146). Although he found himself transformed into a bug, not once did he think to himself "What has happened to me? And why?" He immediately realized that he was late for work and kept thinking of the early train he had missed. "But what was he to do now? The next train went at seven o'clock; to catch that he would need to hurry like mad and his samples weren't even packed up, and he himself wasn't feeling particularly fresh and active" (147-48). As a traveling salesman, a very impersonal job—not only in the office, but also in the field—Gregor lost his humanistic qualities and became a "utility" to the company rather than a human being (Goldfarb). Due to Gregor being late for work, the chief clerk came to his house, where he and his family live, to find out the reason for his tardiness to work. Rather than his chief clerk wondering if he was ok, the clerk automatically assumed Gregor had an inadequate excuse for his behavior. Gregor thought to himself: "What a fate, to be condemned to work for a firm where the smallest omission at...
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