The Metamorphosis: A Tale of Two Metamorphoses?
Abstract: Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is a novella which depicts alienation of a modern man in the most dreadful manner. It starts with the transformation of Gregor Samsa, the protagonist, into a bug and the author depicts the story of his gradual separation from his family and his consequent death in a very moving way. We get a detailed description of the gradual encroachment of an insectile character on his human character. However, the transformation takes place very abruptly at the beginning of the story and we are not offered an adequate account of Gregor’s mental metamorphosis, except for some of his reflections on his past, which must have led to the physical metamorphosis. Interestingly enough, along with the description of Gregor’s coming in terms with his new insect body, we are given a very significant and elaborate depiction of the mental change of Gregor’s sister Grete. We may apparently think that she steadily develops into an adult and assumes a new individual identity. Nevertheless, the continuous loss of her innocence and tenderness of mind is a remarkable feature of her mental development. And there are scopes to argue that actually it is with the rendition of her mental decadence that Kafka has substituted the account of Gregor’s mental change which he has gone through prior to his physical transformation. And, the novella ends with a very strong indication that Grete is also heading towards the miserable fate as Gregor did. This paper discusses these two transformations as complementary to each other by showing parallels of the situations that set off the process of change in these two victims of capitalist society, and by emphasizing the fate of an alienated modern man represented by these two siblings.
View Full Text
Published in Fall 2010-11