The irony of the protagonist's life is reflected in Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis."
An Irrational Case
In an irrational case, Kafka transforms Gregor into an insect. This indicates the supernatural; however, Kafka does not explain the explanation for Gregor's transformation.
It is clear that Kafka's goal in the story is to show how absurd life can be, particularly for someone who undergoes a transition and is different from others. Significantly, Kafka wants to demonstrate how forgetful and unforgiving people can be when confronted with the unexpected. He explores the Gregor family’s reactions to the transformation of Gregor, their lack of empathy, and forgetfulness of his contributions to the family’s well-being.
The reaction of Gregor’s family to his transformation is an indication of how human nature influences people’s behavior towards what they perceive as a burden, nuisance, and an inconvenience. Human nature is essentially the defining characteristics that include how people treat each other, think, act or feel towards someone or something. In the narrative, human nature plays a significant role in the manner in which Gregor is treated by his family. Though Gregor was providing for the family and paying off the family debt prior to his transformation, his family seems to forget his significance and contributions towards their well-being gradually.
Significantly, as human nature dictates, the family struggles with mixed feelings towards him. For instance, though his sister is concerned for his well-being and attempts to care for him (Kafka 63), however, she feels revulsion when she sees him. In addition, Gregor’s transformation creates an emotional disconnect between him and the family members since they are unable to understand each other. Furthermore, though his mother and sister believe that there is some humanity left in him, they become more distant with time.
Consequences of Gregor’s Metamorphosis
Gregor’s transformation renders him incapable of going to work and to provide for the family. Therefore, the family must find a way to make money to support themselves. It is evident from the narrative that since the family suffered after the father’s business failed five years earlier (Kafka, 37), Gregor chose to step in support his family; however, this changes after his transformation. The family is uncertain of Gregor’s humanity, and only his sister shows any concern for him even though her feelings towards him continue to change, she still feels responsible for him. Gregor’s family makes significant changes in order to sustain his family.
Solutions Available To the Family
The regular maid is replaced by an old one in an attempt to save on costs (Kafka 60). The family resorts to selling their jewelry in order to sustain themselves because Gregor is no longer working (Kafka 60); consequently, unable to provide for the family. Gregor’s father finds an assistant’s job in a bank. However, the family still needs more money and is forced to take on boarders in order to get more money (Kafka 80). It is evident that Gregor’s metamorphosis has impacted the family’s finances the most. This makes their feelings towards him diminish even more, and they treat him like the insect he appears to be; his father chases him around the house, and his room is used as a storage closet. When Gregor dies, the family realizes they have enough money to move into a better, smaller apartment, an indication that Gregor was the stumbling block inhibiting their progress.
When Gregor discovers his transformation, he wishes that his family would not treat him differently. He continues to care for his family even though they appear repulsed by his new form. Though his preferences in food and his surroundings have changed (Kafka 34), Gregor’s mind has not lost the human element. He believes that he is still part of the family and wishes that he could communicate with his sister and reassure her of his commitment to helping her. However, his perspective continues to change as the narrative progresses, and he feels more distant and alone. His concern for the family persists, and he feels guilty when the boarders are scared off, costing the family the rent money they could have made from them.
Gregor’s Family Response
It is evident that Gregor’s family still considers him as part of the family in spite of his transformation into an insect. However, the sense of family integrity and community is significantly compromised since his new image prevents the family from sharing food or spending time together in the same room. It is evident that the family is stressed to the extent that they feel repulsed at the mere sight of him. His mother suffers the most since she faints when she sees him (Kafka 56), while his father chases him around when he leaves his room and does not bother to visit him. Meanwhile, his sister only takes care of him because she feels it is her duty do so and not because she cares for him.
If placed in the same circumstances as the Samsa family, the best course of action would be to treat Gregor as part of the family because, in spite of the transformation, he is still part of the family. In addition, before the transformation occurred, Gregor sacrificed his happiness in order to continue supporting his family by working in a job that he did not enjoy. As such, the family owes him the decency of recognizing him as part of the family and treating him as such and not as an insect.
Kafka, Franz. The metamorphosis. Florida: Aventura Press, 2008. Print.