Franz Kafka, born in 1883, a Jewish Austrian author, published the novella ‘the metamorphosis’ in 1915. He has portrayed a life of failure in the extraordinary sequence of metamorphosis of a decent man into a worthless bug. The extravagancy of the story and the powerful themes presented in the book was the reflection of the consequences of Kafka’s private life. Somehow, he has injected his social and political views in the fictional character of the story, and has tried to narrate his experiences and criticize certain political and cultural issues. The author has attributed the main character using his own characteristics, as effects of medium-level schizoid, a personality disorder, has been appeared in the traits of the persona, which it supposedly influenced Kafka in most of his works.
Franz Kafka has created a surreal world for the main protagonist, where the character has lost its senses, and has been metaphorically entered into an emotional black hole and does not know that his good intentions to support his family and be a decent employee has been the influence of his metamorphosis. Gregor Samsa has been described to be a “man of duties”. Military services, at the younger stages of the character’s life, as the author has described, is the character’s only “good memory” left, as Gregor had a picture of himself as a lieutenant, “smiling and worry free, with his hands on his sword, demand respect for his bearing and uniform”. The author, by the use of diction makes the reader to instantly realize the bizarreness of the main character, and foreshadows the decay and deterioration in the character’s life, as the irony of ‘good memories in military services’, opposes readers expectations. However, this might be an allegory to the famous events of war, during the early 20th century. Kafka, has tried to portray Gregor’s life as a war, where a feared, selfless man would have no chance surviving from the fierce flames of fire. By that means, aggression is the only solution of survival from the life of an insect, which is a sign of rebellion from the author to objectify the purpose of war, and the society’s belief in physical power to be the critical key of success.
Gregor is “concerned about his parents and his sister”, and the fact that he has given up everything on his private life, and works to pay off his family’s debts, shows his true love for his family. Kafka illustrates his beliefs in independency and freedom of the societies, by debilitating the persona from bearing the burden of his family’s debts. This signifyies the immorality of a dependent society, as his family is powerless and vulnerable in a capitalistic society, which is the cause of his alienation. Consequently, “a slight indisposition, a dizzy spell”, prevents Gregor to be an ordinary human.
Although, Gregor has been using different factors and reasons to excuse his reluctant behavior towards a change in his lifestyle, his parents have affected his situation tremendously, whereas “if it wasn’t for his parents’ sake, he could have quit [his laborious job] ages ago”. Despite that he has been alienated from his family, they still live under the same roof, simply because of the financial weariness of the family. Despite Gregor’s gratis efforts for his family, the perfect example of a dramatic irony is when he has not been appreciated by his parents, and has been treated as a worker as they have “simply got used to it”. The author escalates the dramatic tension, as a socially ill person who is incapable of communicating with his environment has to bear the excruciating pain of the ignorance of his parents towards himself. Kafka might have been influenced by his own life, as the settings and the characteristics of the novella is very similar to that of his own. Gregor’s relationship with his father, may have been a slight indication to Kafka’s family and his inability to correlate with his parents especially, his father.
Gregor’s sister, Grete, is another character that Kafka has used to illustrate Gregor’s dependency, and his abnormal metamorphosis into a beetle. Grete is the person who takes care of Gregor, which clearly indicates the unconventional circumstances of Gregor, literalizes the metamorphosis, and removes the story from the shed of dreams, and surrealism, as if he was really transformed into an insect. Gret is the only character that shows pity for Gregor, and treats him as a human and most important of all as her brother. However, Kafka moderately changes the views of Grete on Gregor, as Gregor reveals himself to the boarders. Grete feeds him and helps him in ordinary things, but she gets disgusted by his bug like, sordid actions. She gave up on her and realized that “the only solution was that, Gregor must go”, and that’s where the effects of schizoid emerges in Kafka’s distinct writing style. He isolates Gregor and tortures him, as he turns Gregor’s sister, his only nurturer against him, which the abandoned feeling touches the readers mind and creates a claustrophobic mood, as a ‘human bug’ not only loses his job and identity but also his family.
Gregor’s only occupation is his job, although “travelling is exhausting for him, but he couldn’t live without it”. Kafka by explaining Gregor’s “demanding job”, his tremendous “work stress” and “joyless life” is a symbolization of a prisoner who is being tortured everyday and cannot escape in any sort. However, his workaholic character and persistency in his job, endorsed his boss to be dominant towards him. Kafka, has exposed his political views, and has indirectly objected Nazism and also capitalism to some extent, by the use of diction and strong phrases such as, “with his fist”, or “behind his desk”, which explicitly elucidates the idea of the “power of a boss”, and the disastrous discriminations that Jews were suffering from, during Nazism in Austria. The author by explicating Gregor and his boss compares an ineffectual person in a capitalistic society, where power of a person defines his personality, to a bug, which is almost useless and incapable in an animalistic environment. Gregor had “nothing in his mind but business”, and his fear of losing the job has made his boss to take advantage of his paralyzed situation, therefore the sordid conditions would carry on until he would stand up to him, but Kafka showed no signs of rebellion, as the character Gregor, carried on living reluctantly. Although one cannot disregard the protagonist view of the author, as the Gregor finds himself in an extraordinary situation that challenges his will. The unsympathetic character, Gregor, initially struggles to redeem himself, and in the process of the novel, his identity gradually develops, as his positive qualities become evident to the reader.
Of all the factors and characters’ role in the Gregor’s life, it is Gregor himself that has been the most heinous towards himself. Gregor’s characteristics, has made the other characters to be manipulative and to some extent the greediness of their actions towards Gregor, is the cause of ‘the metamorphosis’. The author describes Gregor’s career as a failure, whereas “other salesmen live like a harem women, and enjoy their life.”If he were to try to live the same life as them, his boss would “throw him up on the spot”, which again the power of the boss and his dominance against the employee has been emphasized, and is an indication to the Gregor’s over responsible nature, which has been recognized by his family and especially by his boss, whereas once being late from work, surprised his boss and caused him to go over to Gregor’s house to find out that “how could Gregor miss the train?”. The effect of Gregor’s duties and responsibilities on him was the preliminary cause of the metamorphosis. However, in an ordinary life, a responsible man, who provides for his family and tries to concur with his boss, in order to become a good employee, would not be treated as feckless beetle. Therefore, duties and responsibilities were not the only incites that provoked the metamorphosis, but the surreal environment, the ungrateful family, the financial situation, and most importantly Gregor himself were the catalysts of the metamorphosis of Gregor into a beetle.