Frame of Mind
In every individual, the willpower to live a better life is set upon goals to do the best every day, so that in the end there will be a happy ever after. However, there are some cases where one feels the weight of the world crashing above, leaving the ache of broken hearts behind. In "The Metamorphosis", a short story written by Franz Kafka, Gregor Samsa experiences a life of depression and forlornness. He uses these emotions to mirror his attitude towards society and his life. His existence is defined as existentialism; a philosophy that emphasizes isolation and stresses freedom of choice for the consequences of one's acts. In the words of Mulcahy, "Existentialist attitude is what an individual feels when confronted by the absurdity of life". Existentialism is a movement originated during the nineteenth and twentieth century in Europe that emerged after World War 11.The outlook was formed by atheist philosophers such as, Jean-Paul Sartre and Friedrich Nietzsche who described the aspects of existentialism. They both agree that there isn't a definitive meaning to life, because there's no creator. Thus as Sartre's slogan: "existence precedes essence", which means without existence, there isn't essence to be determined, because the essence belongs to existence. "The Metamorphosis" motions the existential view that choice is the opportune of the individual; human beings must fight with his or her conscience to maintain a balance between the internal or the external world. Yet, individuals like Gregor Samsa who choose society to conform, will lose individuality.
The story starts out when Gregor awakens late for work, and finds himself in a body of a bug; prior to the transformation, Kafka portrays Gregor lacking an identity. Before the change, Gregor spends a life of servitude working in a job he despises, only to pay off his father's debt:
What a grueling job I've picked! Day in, day out-on the road. The upset of doing business is much worse than the actual business in the home office, and, besides, I've got torture of traveling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last or get intimate. To the devil with it all! (Kafka 4)
To never assume freedom, is one of an existentialist tenet that Kafka endorses, Gregor is obliged by self-imposed burdens. The most demanding role is to be the replaced financial supplier for the Samsa's. Since he feels responsible, he endured it. For his job Gregor goes on many trips, and instead of wanting to go out to meet people, he stays at the motel and does not socialize. For this reason, Gregor is lonely and doesn't have a friend or a girlfriend that he can find support in. He goes through the same daily routine and fails to look forward into the future. By secluding himself like this, he has become alienated from society. "He seems to have been a classic self-sacrificer and martyr, devoting his entire life to paying off his family's debts, spending very little developing his own life" (Goldfarb). He believed he had to provide his family with a pleasant, contented, secure life by sacrificing himself, by selling himself to his business. Through this sacrifice, Gregor has distorted his own self. In reality Gregor's parents did not need the sacrifice at all, his father possessed more money than Gregor knew about. His sacrifice was meaningless.
Gregor's life as a vermin isn't any different than his life as a human. Gregor tries to interact with someone but the only thing that comes out of his mouth are cockroach noises that scare his family and prevents him from communicating. "Did you just hear Gregor talking? That was a voice of an animal." (Kafka 12) His incapability to talk means he can't convey his needs. He can't say that he wants to work it out even though he knows he's in a tight spot, or what he wants to address. "He isn't heard. His appeal for understanding, forgiveness and a second chance fall on deaf ears" (McNeil). Gregor feels painful to be no longer understood. He wants love, appreciation for being a tender son, to be apart of his family's circle, but he gets nothing in return. "Although he is a dutiful, self-sacrificing son, he is as much a stranger to his family as he is to the world and shuts them out of his life-he locks them out as much as they lock him in" (Greenburg) .A little communication goes among them, he even comments to himself about the "quiet life his family has been leading," . Gregor is only needed to meet the needs of his oppressive family, just so they indulge happiness and luxury. They are too preoccupied, that they had forsaken him. Gregor's family doesn't care about him, even though he thinks back on his family with deep emotion and love. Gregor is once again alienated from his family.
Furthermore, his transformation as a cockroach makes him worthless, useless and unbearable, to the eyes of his family. He became a disgusting creature, one that makes people around him frightened. Gregor is first maltreated when his father first saw his new condition.
Gregor was amazed at the enormous size of the soles of his boots, but wasted no time with that - he knew full well, right from the first day of his new life that his father thought it was necessary to always be extremely strict with him. He knew he had neither the time nor the ability to enlighten him (Kafka 36).
Gregor was well aware his father thought of him as a bug, and less important because of his flawed self image. Infected by the horror, his father hissed, and shoved Gregor back to his room, bleeding, leaving him bruised. "In response to Gregor's need for guidance and support is the rivalry of the father and the authorization justice he wrathfully voices." (Honig) Instead of being concerned, the father attacks and essentially rejects the son for becoming the "monstrous vermin" that he has become. Gegor's father considers Gregor a nuisance, causing him annoyance. Another depiction of hostility is shown when Mr. Samsa bombards Gregor with apples. "And of course he is more than neglected: he is attacked. Attacked twice by his father" (Goldfarb) The apples symbolize the beginning of suffering, and exile. It makes Gregor sentient that his life has tainted and that he no longer holds the status of a son, because he isn't of use anymore since he cannot earn money to support his family. Mr. Samsa physically hurts and scars his son. He should be showering Gregor with love, but instead hates the animal he has become and wants nothing to do with him.
Analogous to Mr. Samsa, his sister Grete, who was his favorite also start's to abandon him. It was at this point when Gregor physically and mentally starts to deteriorate. At the beginning Grete tried to take care of him, she took the responsibility to clean his room, and feed him rotten food, but she became weary of this never ending task. As time goes on, Grete begins to see him as a pest, and refer Gregor as an "it". His sister says, "It has to go, if it were Gregor, he would have realized long ago that it isn't possible for human beings to live with such a creature"(49) Through this quote, Grete cries to her father about wanting to get rid of Gregor.
She thinks he is ruining their lives, because he is being such a bother, feels her family has a reputation, and believes that he wants to occupy the whole apartment.