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    The Metamorphosis' and the Theme of Transformation and Alienation

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    The Metamorphosis
     Admin  Published On Sep 30, 2023 | Updated on Sep 30, 2023  Essay

    Introduction1. Brief Overview of The Metamorphosis 

    The novel The Metamorphosis is about the character Gregor Samsa. He is a salesman and sells his goods through traveling. One day he discovered himself transformed into a giant insect. All of a sudden, he took a glance in his room which was as usual. After judging the situation, he decided to sleep again and forget all of this. However, he realizes that he is unable to roll over due to the hard convex part of his body. When he tried to touch himself with the help of one leg, he felt disgusted. He expressed the fact that his family depends fully on the difficult job he does. He realized that he slept much and missed his train. The novel is about Gregor’s transformation into a huge insect that ultimately causes a burden on his family.

    1. Brief Overview of Franz Kafka

    Franz Kafka was born in the year 1883 and was a writer of German literature whose novels and other works mainly focus on the alienation and the anxiety that was felt majorly by 20th-century European and American society. He was born into a Jewish family and was the eldest child. He was connected with his maternal ancestors because of their spirituality, rabbinical learning, intellectual distinction, mental constitution, and ultimately physical constitution. However, the writer was not that close to his mother. A minor literature artist named Max Brod was the most intimate to Kafka. He was also the savior, promoter, and interpreter of the writings of Kafka. The writer blessed the literature with some of his excellent works such as The Metamorphosis, Letter to Father, Description of Struggle, and so on. 

    Explanation of central theme: Transformation and alienation

    Alienation is the core theme of the novel The Metamorphosis. The theme depicts the sense of separation of oneself from all other members of the group or the people around us. It is felt by the ones who are depressed by several life issues. In the literature, Gregor is separated from all the family members after his overnight transformation into a huge insect. He started to experience physical alienation from a body of his own. The feeling is raised into the central character’s mind through the sudden transformation. 

    1. Gregor Samsa's Transformation

    2. Introduction of Gregor Samsa and his salesman life

    The novel The Metamorphosis centers around the leading character Gregor Samsa a salesman by profession. He was a responsible person towards his family as he was the only gaining member of his family. He was an excellent employee in his office and was a regular attendee. It means he merely used to be absent from his duty. However, one day he was slightly late and marked by his boss as pig-headed. It was majorly related to the life of the writer who was unable to do sufficient work in his office during the time he was affected by tuberculosis. The central character chooses to opt for the job as his father's business has gone under. There was none to support their family at the time. 

    1. The sudden transformation of Gregor into an insect 

    The sudden transformation of the core character Gregor into an insect or a bug that was verminous was due to the huge stress faced in his job also related to the issues existing in his family. Several reasons were responsible for the stressful life of Gregor which ultimately caused his transformation. It is the result of the feeling of his loneliness and being unloved by the family members. Another major cause behind his transformation was the fact that he was too suppressive and used to hide his feelings from his family members. The writer here symbolizes the transformation of this character as the tragic conclusion of one's life. 

    The Reaction of Gregor’s Family to His Transformation

    In the novel, we observe a negative change in the minds of the people who were most close to Gregor. All including the parents of Gregor started to feel a burden after the transformation of Gregor. They used to feel disgusted however, his sister was still by the side of his brother. 

    His mother at first glance felt sick after eating her son in the appearance of a bug. She just fainted. His father was quite frightened by his appearance and he used to beat him for security purposes. His sister was the only caring person for him as she used to take care of his feeding along with the cleanliness of his room. He was also concerned about the fact that his brother needed more space inside the room due to his large appearance. His mother was focused on diminishing the existing gap between the family members mostly between Gregor and his father. However, the situation gets worse when the board members refuse to do their job inside the apartment of Gregor as they are frightened by his giant size. It ultimately leads the story toward its conclusion which ends with the life of Grego. In the end, her sister also became cruel towards him.

    1. Consequences: Transformation of Gregor

    2. Confinement of Gregor and the experiences of his isolation

    The family members of Gregor started to disregard the life of their son. It was not that they were disgusted with him during his transformation; they felt the same during his human stage. They disappriciated the humanity of their son and got a scope to isolate him inside a separate room after his transformation into an insect. This isolation modulated his appetite. It was reducing day to day and he lost the human communication capability. All of these were continuously making him separate from his family members as well as from society. He was also losing confidence in himself as he had lost his job and seemed to be non-productive for his family members. They were also suffering from a financial breakdown as the major earner of their family lost their job. They started to treat him as a burden on him and worried about their economic and social status. As a result, after the sudden death of Gregor, they felt some relief that they would be able to live a peaceful life. His sister was a supporter of him at the beginning and became his worst enemy of him in the end. After the death of her brother rather than expressing grief, she was ready to celebrate the fact by searching for a new life partner for her.

    The Impact of his Transformation on his Close Ones

    The consequences of the matter are long-ranging and not only affects his life but also his close ones. The novel ends with the death of the leading character and the ultimate relief of his family. They used to lock him from outside of the room thus, he may not get a scope to come outside of his room. They were too disgusted with the transformation of Gregor, however, it was nothing new as they were unsatisfied with Gregor. 

    The Struggle of Gregor to Communicate and His Humanity-Sense Diminished 

    Gregor was never fond of the job role he played and after the sudden transformation into a bug, he felt that he was facing difficulty in speaking which was a symbolic phenomenon of his ineffectiveness in life. Though Gregor was the only savior of his family, his family members used to be cruel towards him from the very beginning and the transformation of him added a new degree to it. All of these after a sudden time resulted in the loss of humanity from his mind. 

    1. Family of Gregor
    2. Gregor's Father: Mr. Samsa

    The novel at the beginning stage provides a glance at the financial situation of Gregor’s father and the crisis faced by him due to the breakdown of his business. He was harsh towards his son from the very beginning even though his son was the only savior of the family during the hard times. He was more disgusted with his son after his sudden transformation which may be due to fear several times, he used to attack his son. He used his son as a banking machine to pay all the debts after his bankruptcy. As per the analysis of the novel, it is clear that the sudden bankruptcy forced his father to become a cruel person. 

    A.1. Gregor's Mother: Mrs. Samsa

    Though the mother of Gregor Mrs. Samsa was a kind and loving lady at the beginning with the flow of time she also became stressed about sharing the home space with a huge insect. She used to play the role of a protector and had a hope to reunite his son and his father. But ironically, she also had some medical problems that led her to lose physical and mental courage. 

    A.2. Gregor's Sister: Grete

    Another metamorphosis was observed in the story in the character of Grete who was the sister of Gregor. She was the character who changed the most in the whole study. It presented the essence of her development from a girl to a developed woman. She used to take care of her elder brother during the post-transformation state of Gregor as an insect. She portrayed humanity in her behavior of bringing food for her brother. However, with the flow of time situation changed and she became less patient with her duties toward her family. She became cruel towards the family members and more towards her brother. She portrayed most of the alteration in roles among all the characters in the whole story. The girl who was once compassionate and focused girl towards her duty turned into a cruel woman. 

    Attitudes of his Family Members Toward Gregor and the Struggle they Faced to Normalize his Transformation 

    Before the transformation of Gregor into an insect, he was the major breadwinner of the family. However, the transformation made him unable to continue his job which majorly hit the financial stability of the family. All members of the family thus, were in search of a job which must be sufficient to overcome the financial breakdown of the family. From that point, the alteration of attitude started among the family members. They become cruel towards Gregor as he becomes non-eligible to financially support his family and becomes a burden on them. He was deemed a useless and worthless creature by them. It depicts the harsh reality of life that one is valuable till the time they can provide fruitful facilities to society even if there is no exception of the law for the closed ones. 

    The members of the family became exhausted and with their son they started to attack occasionally. The change affected his mother in a way that she fainted although she was physically disturbed previously. However, his father portrayed the harshest characteristics of treating him as removing him from the family to eliminate the distress of his wife and daughter. The writer has emphasized the fact that normal people acted more like an animal than Gregor. This depicts the actual animality hidden inside the mind of a person not in their outer appearance. 

    The Deterioration of the Relationship Between the Family Members along with the Burden They Faced in Caring for Gregor

    The sudden change in the outer ambiance of Gregor pushed the behavioral change of his family members toward him. As long as Gregor was able to earn for his family and support them in crisis all was ok but by the time he transformed into an insect and became unable to earn for his family, they started to treat him as an unworthy element of their family. They started to treat him like he was no one but rather an enemy to them. His father started to attack him, and his mother, and used to lock their son inside a room. His sister who portrayed the character of a compassionate and domestically focused girl in the beginning turned into a harsh woman at the end of the story. Though she used to play the role of a caretaker of Gregor at the beginning stage with the flow of time she also lost her patience and started to humiliate her brother just like her parents. 

    1. The inner world of Gregor 

    2. The thoughts and emotions Gregor has developed in the new insect form

    After the sudden transformation, Gregor has changed not only physically but immensely emotionally. This alteration in his body separated him from all the members of his family, especially in terms of humanity. He described the fact as imprisonment. Post his transformation he was almost imprisoned inside his room and lost all contact and mental attachment with the people. He realized the fact with the time that his worth to his family existed previously only in terms of his earnings. The day he became unable to bring money into his family he became worthless for them. This severely affected their emotional state of Gregor. Driven by this emotional breakdown he wanted to continue his work so that he may gain the previous position in the hearts of people but it was worthless. 

    The Attempts Adopted by him to Retain the Humanity Inside him and the Longing for Connection

    Though Gregor turned into an insect after the transformation he adopted several attempts to retain the humanity inside him. As he still wanted to sustain the job role he used to play as it was the only earning source for his family. Then he wanted to sustain a picture of a girl who was daring to him on the wall his mother and sister wanted to throw away. He felt sad by looking at their poverty and the critical situation they were witnessing after the transformation of Gregor. He also started to realize the burden he was becoming on his family which ultimately depressed him severely. Though driven by this situation Gregor dies and finally provides some relaxation to his family as he was very responsive and loved towards them. 

    The Role Played by Dreams and Memories During the Psychological State

    In the story The Metamorphosis, Gregor one day wakes up in the morning and realizes the fact that he has turned into a bug. With the flow of time, Gregor started to lose control over his mind and started to lose his memory. He was unable to remember several insignificant people in his life with whom he had met prior. He started to replay his past actions in his mind which started to disturb him immensely thus, he felt angry about that situation. He realized that people around him had never supported him before and after the transformation. Thus, the physical changes in their body of Gregor affected his memory in a way that he realized the harsh reality of the world. The psychology of the character changes immensely and gets depressed through realizing the cruel reality that ultimately leads to the end of the character. 

    1. Transformation of Grete

    2. The care and sympathy showed by Grete in the initial phase of Gregor's transformation

    The only character that was at least sympathetic toward their situation of Gregor was his sister Grete. She used to be the only one who was conscious of the health of her brother. She used to provide him with food such as milk which was his favorite by Gregor. She was also worried about the space needed for her brother to enjoy his life. She used to clean the space of her brother's room so that he might not feel any kind of difficulty roaming around the room wall. She also thought that her brother needed more space thus, she removed all the furniture and pictures from his room. All of her previously mentioned actions provide evidence that once she was the one who was the most holistic and reliable support of her brother however the situation changed over time. thus, it is clear that Greete was the only person who was worried about her brother's health. His parents were not interested in his life of Gregory. However, all good things come to an end. Greete also changed her mind about the flow of time. She was more interested in gaining more happiness in her life rather than caring for her brother. The story reaches its tragic conclusion here. After getting hurt by the behavior of Greete, Gregor at last decided to suicide and finish himself.

    The Resentment Grew Inside Grete and Her Desire for Independence

    Grete was the one who was highly sympathetic and lovable towards his brother. She used to clean her room and provide him with food such as bread and milk which was his favorite from time to time. However, the situation took its way with time and Grete was manipulated. It was due to the situation. She started to choose her freedom and well-being over the struggle of her brother. At the end of the story, there comes a situation when Grete proposes a new idea to move his brother out of the house. She created a scenario that must force Gregor to leave the palace. She was successful in her mission but in a different way. Gregor chooses to finish himself rather than be a burden on others. In the ending, we witnessed a scenario where Grete after the death of her brother asked her parents to shift their apartment and to search for a husband for her.  

    The Transformation of Grete from a Caring Sister to a Critical Character

    Grete was the character that portrayed the most significant changes in her character. From day one she was the one who was only gentle towards her brother in the whole house. She was strict towards her footing. She used to keep the room of her brother tidy and hygienic. She was also aware of her brother. He may get the maximum space in his room to move independently. But the cruelty of life also changed her perspective. She also prioritizes her needs over the life of her brother. At the time, she faced critical conditions inside their apartment due to her brother she suggested her parents move into a new apartment. Gregod could not resist this as a result he chose the way to finish himself. 

    1. Climax and ultimate resolution

    2. The deteriorating health along with the sudden death of Gregor

    Gregor was already least satisfied with his life. The situation became worse during the time Gregor turned into a giant insect. He was unable to move his body parts as they became convex which is completely different from the body structure of human beings. He was struggling in terms of moving his body for the simplest tasks. His feeding behavior was also changed. Gregor, who was fond of bread and milk, lost his interest in milk. Rather he started to adapt to the food behavior of the bugs. He started to lose his appetite day by day. It was affecting his health severely. Also, the ignorance he was facing from his family members ultimately led him to finish himself. 

    The Relief Faced by Gregor’s Family and the Freedom They Get After His Death

    Gregor’s family was too unjustified towards him. Though the whole family depended on him in terms of earnings they used to treat him as an unworthy person. The situation became more disgusting during the time he was converted into an insect. There was the addition of an extra burden on them which was to look after Gregor. They also had to earn by themselves for their survival. Gregor lost the ability to continue his job. The situation was moving towards its ultimate destination as the sister of Gregor also lost her interest and humanity towards her brother and became a selfish one. In such a situation, all of the family members expressed a desire to move Gregor out of the house so that they may get some relief. Gregor was so much disappointed with the situation that he finished himself. At the climax part, we see that all the family members were hoping to start a fresh life rather than feeling sorrow for their son and brother. 

    Reflection of the Family Members on Gregor's Transformation and Ultimately as a result of their Transformation

    Gregor’s family members were too disgusted with their son, especially after the transformation of Gregor into an insect. They were immensely disturbed and irritated as they had to take extra care of their son. It is because he turned into an insect. However, during the beginning stage, Gregor's mother was severely frightened by his appearance but soon she was used to that. But still, he was not accepted by any of his family members. There were several times when Gregor's father used to beat him or attack him. The story concluded at the time when Gregor chose the option to finish himself and his family members got some relief. The irony of the story is that there occurred only physical change in the case of Gregor but his family members of him went through an emotional transformation and lost their dignity and humanity. 


    Revise the Transformation Theme and Alienation

    The Metamorphosis is based on the theme of transformation and alienation. The term transformation refers to changing oneself into another through external or internal force. On the other hand, alienation depicts the separation of oneself from others in a particular group. Both factors equally developed the core theme of the metamorphosis. As per the scenario of the story Gregor was transformed into a giant insect at the beginning of the story but the core reason behind it has been not disclosed by the author. However, in a metamorphic term, it is assumed that the author is pointing out the transformation of Gregor into a stressed person due to the harsh reality of life as dissatisfaction with his job and his family. This transformation ultimately leads him towards isolation from his family members and society.

    Reflection: Social and Psychological Implication of the Metamorphosis of Gregor

    The social implication from the novel Franz Kafka is that a person is only appreciated by society members as far as he or she may result in some fruitful things for the people surrounding him. There is also no difference in this law in the case of family members or loved ones. They also value a person of their own till the time they appear as beneficiaries for them. The cruel behavior towards Gregor after his transformation into a bug is a clear example of it. The psychological implication is that people start to feel depressed when they find their close ones treat them as a burden. Another psychological factor noticed in the character of Grete is that one can forget all their realization and humanity by the time one starts prioritizing their needs. 

    The Significance and Interpretation of the Novel Regarding Existentialism and the Condition of Human

    The story depicts the idea of existentialism. The term existentialism refers to the belief of human beings that indicates the ability of human beings to think and act according to their individual choices. The novella Metamorphosis also revolves around factors such as free will, responsibility, alienation, absurdity, and looking for the meaning of one's life. The protagonist of the story is an existential person who continuously asks himself about the absurd situation he exists in. By the time he realizes that there is no control of him over his life. Rather than being responsible for the decisions of their own life, he is more focused on keeping the livelihood smooth in his family. Even though the coexistence of the family members and Gregor is under the same roof, he is isolated from family members. He is isolated mentally and physically. It resulted in inner and outer suffering of himself. With the flow of time, he realized that his actions and thoughts him raised him from the struggle to find the true meaning of his life. 

    Five Examples of Metamorphosis 

    First Example

    The first example that is the most common one in nature is the metamorphosis of the Butterfly. There are four stages behind the metamorphosis of this species. In the earliest phase, it is an egg. It is unique in terms of shapes and nature in the family of insects. It has a shell to protect the yolk inside it. The next stage is the larva stage where the egg shell breaks and the caterpillar comes out of it. After this, there comes the stage of pupa where the caterpillars cover them up inside the cocoon silk. At the last stage of this metamorphosis ultimately a beautiful butterfly comes out of the cocoon. All these four stages take up to 30 days to fulfill the cycle. 

    Second Example

    The second one is the metamorphosis of termites. Though metamorphosis is present in the life cycle of this creature it is incomplete. The incomplete metamorphosis of termites consists of three stages. The earliest one is the egg stage, the nymph is the media stage and the last stage is adulthood. The termite eggs hatch to develop larvae which with the flow of time may develop into efficient workers or soldiers. Few develop into primary as well as secondary reproductives. Usually, it takes 30 days to hatch the eggs. 

    Third Example

    Grasshoppers can acquire the third example in this list. The grasshoppers also go through incomplete metamorphosis during their life cycle. It consists of three developmental stages as egg, the second is nymph and the last one is the adult stage. It usually skips the stage of the caterpillar. The young ones are designated as nymphs. However, though they appeared as adults they are smaller and younger than them. It goes through five mere developmental stages to become complete grasshoppers. The cycle takes 40 to 60 days to finish. 

    Fourth Example

    Spider is the fourth example in this list. It has a simple metamorphosis during its whole life cycle. It consists of three core stages. The first one is an egg. The second one is spiderling. The last one is ultimately adulthood. In spiders the pupa stage is absent. The younger spiderlings may resemble the adult ones in terms of outer appearance like grasshoppers. The nature of its metamorphosis is also incomplete as it has no pupa stage. 

    Fifth Example

    The last example in the list is frogs. The lifecycle of a frog consists of three stages that revolve around the first stage is the egg stage that converts into a larva often denoted as a tadpole. The ultimate stage is the adult one. It is known as a frog. The tadpoles resemble the fish-like structure that is also called the pollywogs. It eats and grows and eventually transforms into froglets. Snakes consume this creature to maintain the food chain on the point. The whole procedure is known as metamorphosis. The biological procedure is essential for all these species or apart from all of these other species of the animal kingdom to fulfill their life cycle. Thus, it is a great example of nature.

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