Last Updated 04 Nov 2022

The Theme of Family in Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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“Metamorphosis” was published in 1915, it was written by Frank Kafka. Kafkawas a Jewish German. In the novella it tells a story from a third person point of view, he awakens to find himself an insect. In “Metamorphosis” by Frank Kafka, family is a major theme throughout the whole novella. Family is a group of people that are related to each other by birth or marriage. When you are in a family you care, love, and support one another. Gregor's transformation isn't the central idea or huge change in the novella. The family's reaction toward Gregor changes from before they discover his insect form to his death.

In section one, Gregor wakes up and discovers he has physically transformed into an insect. "His boss would certainly come round with the doctor from the medical insurance company, accuse his parents of having a lazy son,” (Kafka 6). Gregor consciously ignore the fact that he is a vermin and tries to get up and due the daily routine he does every morning. This quote also says a lot about Gregor's selflessness toward his family. The first thing that goes through Gregor's mind about not calling in sick is not what his boss or doctor would do or say to Gregor, but what would they say to his parents. Kafka gives us a little preview of Gregor's feelings toward his family and his role. Time passes by for him in bed, his family starts to notice that he isn't up and going to work. "Gregor? Aren't you well? Do you need anything?'' (Kafka 8).

The family's reaction towards this is concern, the mother in tears sends Gregor's sister, Grete to call a doctor since she thinks he is ill. The father's reaction was to tell the housekeeper to call a locksmith to unlock Gregor's door. The family's concern is just a facade of the family's fear of losing their only source of income every month. As the family discovers the big reveal of Gregor's new form the mother, father, and sister react to it, but deals with it differently. "With a hostile expression his father clenched his fist, as if to drive Gregor back into his room” (Kafka 14). The father's reaction is off the back anger, while the mother faints. As if in that moment they realize how completely their lives was about the change. In just one morning the family relationship with Gregor is completely shattered and now the roles are reserved. The family no longer is able to depend on Gregor so forces all of them to find work. Gregor's physical change begins the family's life changes.

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In section two, Gregor begins to reminisce, “He felt very proud that he had been able to provide such a life in so nice an apartment for his parents and his sister. But what now if all the peace, the comfort, the contentment were to come to a horrible end?" (Kafka 34-35) Kafka gives the readers a glimpse of Gregor's old responsibilities for the family before the transformation. He was the sole breadwinner of the family; he was able to give to his family. As a bug now, he isn't able to provide for his family anymore in which he feels horrible about.

The family's reaction and feeling about Gregor's transformation honestly shows in this section of the novella. “His mother, incidentally, began relatively soon to want to visit Gregor, but his father and his sister at first held her back ... and cried out, 'Let me go to Gregor, he is my unfortunate boy! Don't you understand that I have to go to him?'" (Kafka 30). Gregor's mother still loves her son,even when the father was about to kill Gregor. However, although his mother loves him unable to see Gregor. The father reaction to Gregor is angry. "Gregor saw his mother run up to his father ...but now Gregor's sight went dim – her hands clasping his father's neck, begged for Gregor's life.” The father goes as far to almost killing Gregor, but the mother stops him.

The only person in the family that has any contact with him is his sister Grete. "To find out his likes and dislikes, she brought him a wide assortment of things all spread on an old newspaper" (Kafka 37). She would care for him like he did before the transformation. Only Grete visits Gregor while his mother and father would just avoid him because of his vermin form. Another thing the family begins to do in the second section is dehumanized Gregor. Suggest by his sister, she thinks he would be more comfortable with less furniture so he can crawl around. By taking away his furniture it shows how the family view Gregor. They don't view him as a son or a brother, they view him as a bug and if he is a bug he will enjoy the more room he has to crawl. "They were clearing his room out; taking away everything he loved;" (Kafka 33).

This proves their family theory wrong, as Gregor still thinks he is a human although his physically form and voice. Although the father seems angry for Gregor transformation he is somewhat happy about it, he is able to go back to work and become the man of the house again. Since before Gregor was the man because of him providing the family for all those years. Although all have jobs they still aren't able to make ends meet, they go as far as into renting two rooms.

In final and third section of the novella, it shows the family completely new feeling about Gregor. When Gregor decides to make an appearance in front of the tenants which causes them to move out without paying any rent. "The apple remained imbedded in his flesh ... it was the commandment of family duty to swallow their disgust and endure him, endure him and nothing more." (Kafka 38) The family realizes that they can never get rid of Gregor and have to deal with him because he is techinally family. Another result of Gregor's appearance is that Grete stops visiting him, but feeds him although she doesn't even step inside the room to give him his food. "I won't utter my brother's name in the presence of this creature." (Kafka 47).

Grete was the only one that showed affection to her brother, but her saying this it shows how her love for her brother isn't there anymore. She completely dehumanizes him and that was the final straw foe Gregor. Gregor didn't mind that his mother and father didn't see him as human, but with Grete it was different. Many times in the novella Gregor expresses his love for his sister, she was the reason why he left his room so he can see her play the violin. With her gone from his life Gregor has nothing left to live for. He slowly begins to kill himself, as to not eating.

Eventually one day the servant finds him day and the family takes a day off from work and ride into town. "Leaning back comfortably in their seats, they discussed their prospects for the time to come ... Mr. and Mrs. Samsa thought that it would soon be time, too, to find her a good husband. And it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when at the end of the ride their daughter got up first and stretched her young body. (Kafka 56) With Gregor's death the family making a celebration of it and even thinks about the future of her daughter. As if a weight is lifted off their shoulders and can finally think of a better future.

The family view of Gregor changes through each section. Each section their love for him either was gone or was slowly leaving. In the end the family all in agreement didn't feel a thing for him which lead to Gregor's suicide.

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