Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis
The Metamorphosis is one of the most famous works of Franz Kafka, where he created a symbolic portrait of a lonely man suffering from his fears. Kafka tried to portray a person’s loss of identity in the state of isolation and alienation, including the close relatives. Gregor Samsa is an embodiment of the writer who also felt his isolation among people transporting his own fears and phobias in stories. Thus, this novella is a psychological story about a sick man who loses his spiritual and physical connectivity with the outside world, gradually disappearing from the living world.
Kafka showed that the transformation of Gregor Samsa, a simple Czech clerk, is a difficult test for his family. However, the latter does not even try to save him. The protagonist used to help his relatives before the metamorphosis, but they considered him as a way to gain some money. In fact, Samsa was the only source of income, and, therefore, he was deprived of human characteristics. Hence, when Samsa turned into an insect, his relatives lost interest to his existence as he did not bring any benefit. Thus, Kafka argued that a man is often a set of functions for society performing a certain social role. As for Samsa, he worked as an unnoticed traveling salesman, but even this work was important for society. Unfortunately, the main hero did not find it significant nor enjoyable. It means that he was lonely and isolated even before the case, but the metamorphosis finally turned him to an outsider and exile. Consequently, the hero became more mentally and physically injured losing connectivity with reality.
The situation with Samsa proved that such transformation is not only a physical or mental illness but also the existential one, because he is deprived of human existence. Kafka’s character symbolizes a person’s dependence on society, even if he/she is at the lowest level. Samsa happened to be deprived of the right not only to work, but generally to communicate with other people. Thus, his family and society rejected him as a defective citizen with the explicit physical disabilities. Kafka indicated that a prosperous society was indifferent to sick people because they interfered to build a social utopia. It seemed that Samsa interrupts a peaceful burgher lifestyle destroying by his unusual behavior.
Therefore, for Samsa’s family, the most appropriate way was to condemn and isolate Gregor from society. Thus, his house became a mental hospital. The paradox is that Samsa initially understood and knew himself, but his own family made its own doubts in normality, turning a hero into a monster. Kafka showed that between an individual and society there was always a conflict, which was implemented though Samsa’s metamorphosis. Another problem was that standardization led to life of cruelty and indifference. For instance, Samsa’s relatives lost their humanistic faces when mocked him. When the transformation of Samsa was a physical process, then the degradation of his family/society was a metaphysical process. Consequently, Gregory was isolated from the society as well as life, and thus, condemned to death.
In conclusion, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a symbolic history of human alienation in a capitalist society. Samsa was a foreign element that destroyed the normal rhythm of life of people. Hence, the family decided to isolate him and forced to believe in his own illness. On the whole, Samsa felt guilty that he made others suffer, namely his family, not helping them financially. Nevertheless, the physical transformation of Samsa did not prevent him from a loss of his moral senses, when his relatives were similar to animals in their instinctive and aggressive behavior. Therefore, Kafka argued that a person could not resist society alone and needed the support of others in any case.