The short but evocative novella The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, tells the story of Gregor Samsa, a man who finds himself isolated from his family both physically and emotionally after an absurd incident where he awakes to find himself a creature differing very much from a human, resembling a cockroach-like insect. Gregor discontinues his job as a traveling salesman cutting off all financial support to his family and spends all his time alone in his room, only occasionally being serviced by his younger sister, Grete, who accepts the heavy burden of providing for the family.
His mother and father no longer acknowledge him as a part of the family and after Gregor frightens his mother with his ghastly appearance, his father injures him severely by hurling an apple at him. Gregor spends the rest of his days alone in his room until his death lifts the great burden and rejuvenates the family. Throughout the book, Gregor’s efforts to expand beyond his room signify the destabilized part he plays in the family and his overall experience as a bug relates to that of an imprisoned man.
After his transformation, Gregor loses much of his credibility both as the provider and a simple family man. Just as well, he is physically unable to communicate with his family and his parents are unwilling to talk to him. Worried about his family’s state, Gregor attempts to listen in on his parents’ conversations by “ pressing his whole body against the door as soon as he hears voices”. (Kafka, 26) From this, he discovers that his family’s financial state is not as bad as he suspected and is “ delighted at this unexpected foresight and thrift. (Kafka, 28) He later reflects how at one point in time, earning so much money resulted in an “ astonished and delighted family” but almost at a pattern the delight had ceased, the money was accepted with implied thanks, and the warm feeling had vanished. (Kafka, 27)
The roles had reversed, for Gregor had at one point been the provider, but was now a parasite, leeching off his struggling family with no method to aid them. Soon, Samsa feels more confident about exploring the living room with his new body or arguably cares less about the consequences. As desperation for money increases, his parents are forced to rent out parts of the house to oomers, who instruct Grete to play a melody on her violin. “ Attracted by the playing, Gregor had dared to come out a little further and already had his head in the living room. ” (Kafka, 48) A scandal arises rapidly and even his most trustworthy companion and sister, Grete, was is now arguing that they had “ done everything humanly possible to take care of it. ” She debates that it is now time to “ try to get rid of it,” alluding to Gregor in a forcefully harsh manner. (Kafka, 51) This shows how far Gregor has come from being trapped in his room like a prisoner and how much more of a nuisance he has become to the rest of his family.
Samsa is truly disconnected from his family, for the one member who did her best to endure him is now petitioning to exterminate him. From the very beginning, the experience as an insect made Gregor feel very much like a prisoner, trapped in his own room. After listening in on his father discuss the family’s financial situation with his mother and sister, Gregor commented that the explanations were “ the first pleasant news [he] had heard since his imprisonment” (Kafka, 27) Gregor not only felt trapped physically, but also isolated mentally, much like a convict would feel being away from his friends and family.
Being alone in a silent room would also add to the feeling of being in a prison because “ even the slight noise he made by [carelessly bumping his head on door] had been heard in the next room and made [his family] lapse into silence” (Kafka, 28) A miserable part of being locked away is seeing what you once could do and what you were missing. After scuttling his way up to the window, Samsa would “ lean against the window, evidently in some sort of remembrance of the feeling of freedom he used to have from looking out the window. (Kafka, 29) Gregor would ponder at all that resided outside his window. Somehow, a lot of things seemed not at all like he remembered them. He imagined the outside world as “ a desert where the gray sky and the gray earth were indistinguishably fused. ” Gregor was undoubtedly in a state of depression. (Kafka, 29) In The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka depicts Gregor’s efforts to abandon his room as a symbol for the destabilized part he plays in the family and relates his overall experience as a bug to that of an imprisoned man.
However, Kafka also incorporates bits and pieces of his own life and experiences with his father into symbols, motifs, and more wholly into Gregor himself. The main character in this novel greatly depicts the skilled writer. Gregor’s unstable relationship with his father before and after his metamorphosis match the unhealthy attitude Kafka had toward his father.
Gregor’s father indirectly prevents him from establishing friendships or relationships with women by reminding him of his obligation to pay off the money his father owes. In order to maintain his job, he must keep friends out of the equation. Another trait shared by Kafka, for he had not been able to keep to one woman and did not have a many acquaintances possibly because of the strained relationship with his father. This novella truly outlines the effects of a negative relationship with your father on your life.