The meaning of the name Samsa In Czech is 'I am alone'. The character of Samsa is at times thought to be Kafka himself. Kafka had an autocratic father who expected a lot from him and a mother who took only his fathers side. He also felt the constant burden of familial obligations and craved freedom much like his character Samsa himself. In a way 'The Metamorphosis' is Kafka's autobiography.
The title Metamorphosis is self-explanatory. We can easily conclude that the book is about some kind of change or transformation. The change in this book is that of Gregor's transformation from a traveling salesman to a vermin and also through that the transformation of his ideology and beliefs. It is not clear in the book as to how and why does he change into a vermin. Though it is hinted that it may be because he might have committed some sexual or financial misdeeds. From another perspective, the transformation to such a repellent insect can be a symbol of our own confusion and despair with the absurdity of the world and the human existence.
The novella starts with " When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed into a vermin", not a usual happening in someone's life, the transformation of the character Gregor from a man to one of the most repellent insects may seem exaggerated and ridiculous.
What is more shocking to see is that the first thought that comes to Gregor's mind is not how and why the change happened but how he is going to go to work. It shows the significance of following society's set of rules and work in his life. Nearly everything about Gregor's existence prior to his physical transformation was already insect-like as he scurried about, almost undetectable, and performed various useless functions for the society. Gregor works as a traveling salesman, a job that he abhors and wants to get rid off, an employment to which he has resigned himself for as long as necessary to pay off his parents' debts.
Seems like he finally has his wish. He is relieved and free from the job he doesn't want. But the problem now is that though freed from his job, Gregor is now a burden to his family and is kept locked in his room; He is now a slave to his own family, the family who is expected to be the most kind, merciful and just. The writer through Gregor thus tries to point out that people are only valuable as long as they earn a salary. Gregor's life and individuality is imprisoned by his family as he is the one who makes money. Thus, except for his sister Grete, the whole family treats him not as a member of the family but just as a source of income.
This novella with its peculiar imagery talks about dehumanization, estrangement and oppression of individuality. Gregor seems to change not only physically but also in other ways during the course of the novella. His metamorphosis has a rippling effect on the other characters as they modify their own behavior in response to his new form. These transformations draw attention to the ways that people change under pressure, not just physically but psychologically and emotionally as well, to the point where they may no longer recognize themselves. While Gregor's initial transformation into a vermin may not be in anyone's hands, his transformation as an individual shows how the other characters have an equally transformative impact on Gregor through their ill treatment of him. By showing how much Gregor's identity is affected by the others' treatment of him, the writer points out on how identity is socially constructed, rather than an inborn trait.
Gregor's behavior as an insect brings out how the other characters and in general how we humans behave in an animalistic ways. The change of his bedroom to a storage closet also shows how the family has come to regard him. "Into a room in which Gregor ruled the bare walls all alone, no human being beside Grete was ever likely to set foot." (The Metamorphosis, Chapter 2, pg. 34).