Metamorphism Essay, Research Paper
What is reality? Every person has his or her own “reality” or truth of their existence. For some it may be nothing they expected, while others can just be successful in anything. The true reality is that regardless of what direction is taken in life, a person brings the same inner self, motivational levels and attitudes. As followers of literature we often escape our own “reality” and experience life through the imagination of the authors we read. By doing so, many people find themselves gaining information about themselves.
Before the metamorphosis, Gregor’s life consisted of working and caring for his family. He led the life of a traveling salesman, working long hours, which didn’t permit him to have a private “life.” He reflects on his own life as “the trouble of constant traveling, the worrying about train connections, the bed and irregular meals, casual acquaintances that are always new and never become intimate friends” (par 4). Working to pay off his family’s debt, Gregor never left any time for himself. So involved with his work, Gregor becomes unknown to himself and to life. In Gregor’s life he had no room for anyone other than his family, which in the end left him without love, or caring or any other kind of companionship. He worked so industriously for his family that this became his only goal in life. They became dependent on Gregor to support them but did nothing for him in return. Up until now Gregor was living a life of obligations; he came home every night to an empty hotel room to ensure his family was taken care of.
It is apparent to everyone that Gregor was not thought of as a member of the family, but as a “support system.” The fact of the matter was, “They had simply got used to it, both the family and Gregor; the money was gratefully accepted and gladly given but there was no special up rush of warm feeling” (par 43).
Gregor’s existence did not change. After being transformed into a cockroach, Gregor lived in isolation with his family. Gregor’s sister was the only one who helped poor Gregor in his time of transformation. She was frightened but managed to put her fears aside. Upon his sister taking care of him, the rest of Gregor’s family would not associate with him. “For since what he had said was not understood by others, it never struck any of them, not even his sister, that he could understand what they said” (par 40). Before long, Gregor noticed that through his metamorphosis he had not lost nor gained anything. After the metamorphosis, Gregor’s family underwent some pretty harsh changes. After the change, Gregor would not be able to support his family. He went to his boss and begged him, “Oh sir, do spare my parents” (par 20). Strangely, after what his family put him through, he still looked vigorously for a way to help his parents. “He must lie low for the present and, by exercising patience and the utmost consideration, help the family bear the inconvenience” (par 37).
As time passes, Gregor realizes that his family doesn’t need his help and support and that he is nothing more than a burden to them. The family never realized the strain that the transformation had put Gregor through, and now they have cut off relations instead of supporting Gregor. Even his sister had gotten to the point of no longer feeding or cleaning Gregor’s room. She might stop in and give him a piece of bread but would not stay. What really got to Gregor was the memories of all the things he had done for his family, and now he was being shoved into some room and given nothing in return. Thinking of his family, Gregor decides he must go. Gregor died that night, and when his family found out, they mourned for only a minute and went about their ways.
Did responsibility prove to be too much for the family Gregor had taken care of for so many years? The true reality of Gregor and his family can be seen through the resulting condition of the family itself. For five years Gregor had remained a slave to his own family, not finding out they could have taken care of themselves until it was too late. Now Gregor realized he was forced to live a life of not loving anyone – just a life of loneliness. Upon hearing that his family could have taken care of themselves, Gregor was not angry but glad that his father had made him understand what life was about. After observing a family who lived in the comfort of someone else, we are shown a family exhausted and depressed from laboring at menial jobs-messengers, seamstresses, and salesgirls.
In this story “Metamorphosis”, we tend to believe that Gregor’s change into a cockroach is the main purpose of the story, but after close consideration, I believe it was a story of the transformation of the family. Franz Kafka asks us to fathom, if only for a moment, the thought of our lives changing due to some radical change. Do we feel like Gregor? Would we be better off as “cockroaches?” I believe the answer is no. Through the “Metamorphosis” we observe one man’s life proven to be in vain and no better as a cockroach than as a human. Can anyone be sure that his/her lives are good and perfect and that their families would understand and accept any change that could arise? However selfish this may seem, the fact is that above and beyond all things, a person must consider themselves first. Sense of self will keep one through all the adverse times in life and be a companion to rely on when no one else cares.
Kafka, Franz. “Metamorphosis.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. X.J Kennedy, and Dana Gioia. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 1999. 295-329