Franz Kafka, in his novel, The Metamorphosis describes the literal and metaphorical metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa, from a human to a hideous insect-like creature, but underneath the literal lies the more significant metamorphosis of the Samsa Family. In the novella, Gregor Samsa, the sole breadwinner and only son, transforms into a hideous creature. He is locked inside his room, and his only sister Grete takes care of him, while his father wants to get rid of him. Ultimately, the family come to the consensus that the creature is no longer Gregor, and decide to get rid of it. The literal metamorphosis of Gregor catalyzes the growth and development of Grete, from a meek little girl, to a decisive, mature, young woman. Although Grete’s change is the most significant, Mr. Samsa also undergoes a metamorphosis of his own, transforming from a dependent, broken shell of a man, to an independent, responsible man, with a sense of purpose and meaning. In the novella, The Metamorphosis, Kafka explores how traumatic incidents catalyze a positive transformation amongst the Samsa family. Kafka ultimately points to the hope and perseverance of humanity, regardless of the circumstances faced.
The traumatic metamorphosis of Gregor triggered a transformation in Grete, from being a passive, and dependent girl, to a mature, authoritative, and responsible young woman. As Gregor’s metamorphosis progresses and he becomes more insect-like, the Samsa family become disgusted and appalled at his appearance, and the lack of his ability to contribute to the household. This sentiment grows until Grete becomes the only person who the metamorphosed Gregor has any communication and connection with. She starts to exercise her authority by: acting as a special expert with respect to their parents” (Kafka 44), with no consideration of his needs and desires regarding his confined environment and emotional well-being, illustrated through Grete’s decision SS1 to re-arrange Gregor’s room: They were clearing his room out; taking away everything he loved; the chest in which he had kept his fretsaw and other tools was dragged off; they were now loosening theSS2 writing desk which had almost sunk into the floor, the desk he had done all his homework when he was at the commercial academy, at the grammar school before that” (46) and how “Grete did not let herself be dissuaded from her mother” (45). Though Grete proclaims that she is acting for the brother’s behalf, she ends up separating Gregor from the few remaining physical attachments. These objects are a symbol and a reminder of his past and their absence furthers his detachment from the Samsa family. Through the metamorphosis, Gregor’s needs and abilities transitions form human to insect, the Samsa family’s actions forces him to adapt and change to his new physical form, without consideration for his resistance to detach from his human past, and his hope of returning to it. Through this Kafka depicts Grete’s transition and development from a young sister who cares for her brother and his preferences, to one that doesn’t. Her decision portrays a more mature and controlling Grete who is no longer the week, meek little girl that was present before the metamorphosis. SS3
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