Metaphorsis Franz Kafka Weaves Many Different Themes


Franz Kafka weaves many different themes together to prove points about mankind in his short story "The Metamorphosis." Alienation, repulsion, anger, identity, and freedom are intertwined after Gregor becomes an insect. Through Gregor's horrible transformation, we see extreme conditions of the human condition. The emotional issues regarding family and self as a result of transformation become the spotlight to the actual transformation itself. We can all admit that what happened to Gregor was unbelievable but how his family responded to him was even more so. Kafka demonstrates the cruelty and the frailty of the human condition through Gregor's family and their reaction to him. Kafka also speaks to us about how people relate to themselves and to each other. The greatest lesson from "The Metamorphosis" is that individuals cannot be judged by what they do or what they look like or their significance will be overlooked.

Kafka presents the theory of alienation through Gregor's condition and demise. His alienation comes about in a powerful and painful way, as his family grows more and more distant from him until his death. In fact, his alienation begins long before his transformation but Gregor only becomes aware of his alienation after he becomes a bug. He becomes so alienated that death is a welcome relief. In fact, John Hibbard calls Gregor's death a "potentially suicidal inner condition" (Hibbard). Kafka's "series of haunting images" (Hibbard) are important to his point regarding alienation. Gregor's physical condition represents his inner conflict. However, his physical condition is the least of his worries. Gregor's family ignores and alienates him to the point of Gregor welcoming death. Family and family relations become important but how Kafka goes about explaining this is quite different. He emphasizes the importance of acceptance through Gregor's loss. It is interesting that the Samsas do not ever seem to come to the realization of how important family can be as they rest and go for a stroll after Gregor is gone.

Kafka also explores different sides of repulsion in "The Metamorphosis." His family cannot stand the sight of him as a bug even though they must know he is family. For example, when his mother first sees Gregor in his new state, she falls "on the floor" (20) and his father covers his "eyes with his hands and wept until his great chest heaved" (20). They are repulsed and after a certain amount of time, they force him to stay in his room because he is so ugly. The repulsion only ends with Gregor's death, which can be illustrated in his mother's relief that he is finally gone, whispering, "thanks be to God" (52). Even the family's stroll after Gregor is gone represents the complete and utter repulsion of his condition and the burden he placed upon then and the relief his death brought. Kafka leaves us with the lasing impression of weighing whether or not the Samsa's behavior was more repulsive than Gregor's hideous transformation. Clearly, the family, in their shock and disbelief, become more repulsive to us because they cannot accept Gregor as a bug.

Anger is also an aspect of this story. Similar to repulsion, we see anger represented through many different characters. First, Gregor's family exhibits anger over his bug state. His father expresses his anger in a pathetic tossing of an apple that disables him for more than a month" (Kafka 765). Finally, Grete demonstrates the worst type of anger when she declares that the family has tried to "take care of…