Critical Analysis of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka started with a man named Gregor Samsa. Gregor Salma is a salesman and the sole provider for his family, giving them a decent and comfortable life, although Gregor Samsa doesn’t like his job and he was often bothered by his boss, but he couldn’t quit because his family is in dept to his boss and since he is the only person who works in the family, loosing his job means that it would end the comfort his family is used to. So when Gregor Samsa woke up one morning he realized that he had transformed into a “monstrous verminous bug” (Kafka 29), he couldn’t believe it, it was almost as if he was dreaming. It was real and he was worried about going to work or what his family would experience, who would provide for them and all the thing he use to do.
There was no back story provided for the readers before transformation and what has caused the transformation to happen, Kafka started his story with a guy who woke up realizing he turned into a bug, readers and fans of Kafka has given out their own interpretation of the story and the interpretations never seems to end. Julian Preece has written that The Metamorphosis may be linked to Marx works, and she quoted from Walter Stokel that: “Gregor’s profound self alienation corresponds, with uncanny precision, to Marx’s definition of the ‘externalization’ of works under capitalism” (Preece 135).
Kafka has not written why and how Gregor Samsa’s transformation happened, it was probably because he doesn’t want readers to concentrating on how Gregor Samsa had transformed, instead he wanted his readers to know how Gregor Samsa felt after transforming and what he has experience after transformation.
Critical analysis of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The story begins with Gregor waking up late for work and noticed that he has transformed into a “monstrous verminous bug” (Kafka 29), not thinking that transforming into a bug is possible, he suggested to sleep a little longer and “forget all this idiocies” (Kafka 29). After realizing that he really did transform into a bug his mother called him worried that he would be late for work and then his father and his sister begged him to open the door, but Gregor has no intention of doing so. After several attempts to get out of bed, Gregor’s manager from the work arrived and wanted to speak to him, his mother and father covered for him, they said that Gregor was sick. Gregor not wanting to reveal his transformation to the manager, the manager became mad and started talking loudly about his alleged loss of cash from work and has traveled to Gregor’s home for a possible explanation about the incident, “a possible explanation for your absence- it concerned the collection of cash entrusted to you a short while ago” (Kafka 36).
When he finally opened the door, they were all shocked, his mother fainted and his father cried, the manager slowly backed out but when Gregor followed him to explain what had happened, the manager screamed while his father chased him back into his room. He was first worried about what will happen to his family once he stopped working, to his surprise they were not in that much financial debt after all, his father and sister eventually work and his family, particularly his mother and sister sold their family jewelry to provide for their needs. His room was cleaned by an old lady who often refers to him as an “old dung beetle” (Kafka 74). His sister once wished for his brother, Gregor to go away and leave the rest of his family in peace, then soon after the statement, the cleaning lady found the thin corpse of Gregor.
In comparison with Marx
Gregor hated his job but couldn’t quit because he needed the money to support his family, when he turned into a bug, he was affected by not only the fact that he was a bug, but also for the fact that he now cannot provide for his family, he was greatly bothered how the family would be able to survive without his support, Julian Preece has also felt the same way about Gregor’s connections to Marx, she said that Gregor’s resentment to his job “reveal the emotional and psychological damage his economic bondage has inflicted, and, despite moments of what Marxists would call false consciousness” (Preece 135).
The conflict Gregor’s need for cash and his resentment for the job he is doing is stressing him, and because he is stressed his capabilities to have a normal life is sacrificed. He couldn’t quit his job because he has to support his family while the money he earns isn’t enough to provide for the whims of his family.
Critical analysis of Gregor’s family
In the novel, Gregor’s love for his family is clear, when he transformed, Kafka has written that he even though how his family would survived now that he is not there to provide for them, and he even hid himself so that his family won’t be able to see him in his current situation.
Kafka has even showed his readers how his family feels toward him, even though he provided the family their needs, when he transformed his family treated him like he did not belong in the family, it was like he was caged in his room, neglected because of his current situation and because his family doesn’t want to see him, he had isolated himself from the world and the only person that understands him wasn’t even a member of his family, the old cleaning lady who often called him an “old dung beetle” (Kafka 74). Kafka has shown the response of the family and the neglect of his family despite providing for them on his own in a job he doesn’t even want for years. When the family accepted lodger, Kafka is showing how Gregor’s family has attended to the guest more than the family has attended to Gregor, in one situation, the family even confined themselves in the kitchen while the loggers eat at their dinning area.
Gregor’s family’s concern to live their life the way Gregor has provided them is making them seem less like a family, they have rented their place and instead of cultivating Grete’s talents, she also was asked to work to provide for their needs.
They have even attempted to get rid of Gregor because they couldn’t take care of him anymore, Gregory overheard it and had committed suicide, it was only when Gregor died did the family finally realized that they can live in a smaller and cheaper house and still be happy and live like a normal family, the story ended with the mother and father of Gregor discussing their blossoming child, Grete and how ready she is to be married.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka has been interpreted by a lot of critics and it cannot simply be defined by just looking at an angle, what the readers have to understand is that in order to understand the story, they have to look at it in different angles. Some critics like Julian Preece has connected The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka to capitalism, the strong bond of Gregor and his need to provide for his family has neglected him the freedom to choose a job he really wants, he was confined in a job where he is able to provide for his family.
And if the readers look at the story and the relationship of the family to Gregor, the readers would notice the neglect of the family of Gregor to Gregor. Since his transformation, his father’s sweet words about him being a hard worker was gone and all that was left is the resentment of how he looks and how he is incapable of helping them anymore. Gregor has solely provided for the family before the transformation but after he has transformed, his family doesn’t even try to provide for Gregor’s needs. They even consider getting rid of him and wishing he would understand them, not thinking that before the transformation, Gregor has endured his job to provide for them. Even at the end, Gregor all he can think about is his family and how he loves them, despite how they have treated him.
Preece Julian. The Cambridge Companion to Kafka. Cambridge, UK: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. 2002. Print.
Kafka, Franz, Roberson, Ritchie and Crick, Joyce. The Metamorphosis in The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. New York: Oxford University Press. 2009. Print.