Alienation In The Metamorphosis

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In Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the protagonist wakes up to find himself transformed into a bug. However, the majority of the novel deals with the ramifications of the metamorphosis in which the protagonist must take on the arduous task of adjusting himself and his acquaintances to his new form. Gregor Samsa, the main character, finds himself alienated as others believe him to be both externally and internally changed and view him as vermin. Kafka portrays Samsa’s alienation from society through the extended metaphor of capitalism and the use of symbolism and irony. Long before Samsa’s transformation the family was forced to rely on him as the breadwinner of the family, due to his father’s debt after his business failed. At first Gregor’s…show more content…
At the novel’s commencement “Gregor [awakes] one morning from troubled dreams [to find] himself changed into a monstrous cockroach” (87). Gregor’s predicament is ironic in itself as the possibility of transforming into an insect overnight is highly unlikely. Yet this transformation serves to highlight the distance of Gregor from his family, which was occurring before his change, in which as an insect the distance grows as now he cannot communicate with his family and is mistreated by them. His family’s treatment of him further emphasizes his alienation, in their failure to look after him, as his father kicks him (106) and pierces Gregor’s back with an apple (125) all of which would not have occurred if Gregor had not transformed. This mistreatment could easily be avoided if not for failure of communication as Gregor cannot speak to them and his family believes Gregor cannot understand them (139). While his metamorphosis alienates him from his family it also separates him from humanity in that he no longer is human. In this case his transformation is twofold with his physical metamorphosis and as his ability to act like a human is “gradually absorbed” (Hartman 33) by the overwhelming nature of vermin, marking his progress from a “human insect…to a purebred insect” (Hartman
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