Fatality of Conformity Through Complete Submission to External Norms in Franz Kafka's ‘The Metamorphosis’
In ‘The Metamorphosis’, Franz Kafka depicts Gregor Samsa and his acceptance with the the psychological and mental repercussions of an inalterable physical transformation. The local segregation that Gregor faces within his household parallels to the seclusion of the cultural ‘other’, who lies on the outskirts of societal norms. Throughout history, minority groups have been oppressed by dehumanizing stereotypes and stigmas for conditions of religion, race, gender, or sexuality. Gregor throughout his life has been a nuisance to his surroundings; however once his physique matches his status to others, Gregor’s humanity falls into question. Gregor’s failure to acknowledge his intrinsic value and overcome his isolation set by degrading standards of his environment reveals that conformity creates alienation. Therefore, since systematic seclusion of society holds universal implications, Gregor Samsa serves as a symbol to represent repressed groups detached by prejudice.
Gregor Samsa’s metamorphosis and identity as a “gargantuan pest” threatens his family’s dynamic and values (Kafka 13). Margaret Sönser Breen in her book ‘Reading for Constructions of the Unspeakable in Kafka’s Metamorphosis’ compares Samsa to minorities in post September eleventh American society. After the sudden attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the American people separated themselves from non-normative cultural groups who appeared to jeopardize collective safety. Breen notes that the dangerous perceptions “quickly resulted in damage to hundreds of [Middle Eastern, Arab, and Muslim] stores, mosques, and businesses, as well as violence against thousands of people simply because they carry a mark of ‘difference’” (Breen 121). Gregor’s father similarly perceives Gregor as dangerous when he “pushed [him] relentlessly” (29), despite him “heavily bleeding[,] far into his room” (Kafka 30). Fear of the unpredictable and unknown creates incentive to force the “alien” into isolation or in position for assimilation. Gregor’s family utilizes tactics of social policing and surveillance to not only hide him from their neighbors and the rest of the world, but to also maintain authority over his essence. In the removal of furniture in Gregor’s room, the mother and sister debate between the choice to keep his personal possessions in hope of conformity or to gain control over his state in favor of his subordination into something lesser than human. Gregor contemplates being able to “freely crawl” or “forgetting his human past” (Kafka 43); however, since he never possess the power to make the decision for himself, the action serves more as confining regulation rather than liberation.
Organizations and governments create policies to combat cultural minorities classified as “harmful” based on imposed social stigmas. Gregor’s separation and persecution reflects Franz Kafka’s own experience as a German-speaking jew in Prague during the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and anti-semitism. During the 1930s, the Nazi party achieved domination by presenting the Jewish people as the cause for the social, political, and economic hardships that faced post World War one Germany (Browning). In combination of prejudices, criminalization, and violence through the genocide of the holocaust, the Jews were dehumanized and regarded as cultural aliens. Anti-semitism heavily influenced the circumstances of Gregor’s naissance to his environment and subsequent isolation. His metamorphosis prevents him from fulfilling his duty to his family and brought significant burden to their cumulative obligations. The entire family strips Gregor of his humanity in order to justify their will to get rid of him. As they resort to his condition as the source of their “complete hopelessness” and “endless torment” , Grete notes that they had “to banish the thought that it’s Gregor” (Kafka 53, 62). Correspondingly, participants in ethnic cleansing or genocide must mentally dehumanize victims in order to justify their actions.
In the presence of social sins, minority status can elicit sentiments of guilt and shame. Gregor Samsa expresses similar alienation to the circumstances of homosexuality. The significance of his door and room from the rest of his local community also expresses the closeted seclusion and suppression of the LGBT community. Especially during Kafka’s lifetime, homosexuality was considered immoral and even criminalized in many countries and under religious institutions. The weight of social sins incite the pains of isolation and burden of guilt that Gregor experiences. The “small red apples”, weaponized to restrict Gregor back into closed confinement, allude to the fall of humanity in the book of Genesis (Kafka 48). In society, sinful culpability systematically exercises suppression of homosexuality and dehumanization of a minority that deviates from the traditional family structure.
Gregor’s form and forced isolation serves to represent all non-normative groups as prejudice universally affects all who fail to meet the criteria of the conventional majority. Paul Landsburg in a literary journal, ‘Kafka and the Metamorphosis’, explains “to be an exception or in the minority is the original social sin. When in society any group of men characterized by racial or social heredity is denounced as ‘vermin’, there will always be one group that from then on will see nothing but the other’s rottenness” (Landsburg). Gregor’s physical appearance serves as a mark of contrast to normality similar to star of David during the Holocaust or even physical traits that have brought upon malicious stereotypes such as skin tones. In many instances, Cultural “otherness” instills fear of threat and preconceptions about groups of people enough to enact waves of social control. Kafka exposes the fatality of conformity through Gregor’s complete submission to external norms, causing him to become what his environment envisioned him as until they inevitably saw him as nothing.
Alienation is the state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved. Alienation is a central theme that Franz Kafka discusses in his story ‘Metamorphosis’ from the beginning all the way to the end when the main character, Gregor, dies alone in his room. Gregor’s guilt, being a work alcoholic, and the rejection from his family feed off the central core of alienation. There seems...
This year, last May, my family and I visited the Czech Republic, specifically the city of Prague. It was an amazing experience, during which we learned very much about it’s past and present history. We admired the beautiful Romanesque architecture, we walked along the famous Charles Bridge, and we were able to watch the amazing astronomical clock and many places more, all of them full of beauty and interest. One day, exploring the Jewish Quarter, we came across one of...
There is no doubt that writing is a way to demonstrate our deepest feelings and beliefs; therefore, it is important to comprehend the background of our writing in order to understand and analyze diverse situations. The purpose of this essay is to develop a comparative analysis between the different works written by Franz Kafka: ‘The Metamorphosis’ and ‘In the Penal Colony’. Both readings are considered literary classics, and from my humble point of view, they cover complex issues like the...
‘The Metamorphosis’ by Kafka it gives us a story about transformation, abandoned by parents, relationship with sister. Instead of receiving love Gregor is an outcast and trying to find his way to a human again. One would normally think of the home and family as a sanctuary; however the evidence is true for Gregor Samsa in Franz Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’. Instead of receiving love from his family, Gregor is mistreated. Save your time!We can take care of your essay Proper...
In ‘The Metamorphosis’, Kafka portrays the world as an irrational place through an abrupt and unexpected opening to his book. Without explanation, Kafka utilizes ‘In Medias Res’ to immediately place his audience in the middle of the story with Gregor’s transformation into a pest. Through his use of this device, Kafka introduces an impossible situation and bizarre characters, which bring forth a sense of confusion from his audience to express the existentialist idea of the irrational world. To portray the...
The masked anxiety in Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ is a rooted trauma from parental alienation which transforms Gregor’s self-image from human to bug. The behaviors in the narrative are mirror images of the author’s life and are reminiscent of his feelings towards his father. This parental alienation experienced during Kafka’s interactions with his father is further demonstrated by Gregor’s parents in the text. The self-neglect Gregor faces while being a dutiful slave-like character who is treated like vermin by his family literally...
The novella “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka is a short story about a man named Gregor that turns into a cockroach after waking up. The graphic novel also titled “The Metamorphosis” by Peter Kuper is an adaptation of Kafka’s novella that has illustrations to go along with the storytelling. Something that the two versions have in common is symbolism to represent and convey things such as tone and mood. However, there are differences between the two in how they utilize...
Have you ever felt out of place in your workplace or community? Society as a whole has several negative aspects with the main being that people are very hollow. One prominent writer such as Franz Kafka laid out some of these critiques in his novel. In ‘The Metamorphosis’ by Kafka society is shown to be extremely materialist as a whole and value external appearances in excessive amounts. In the novella ‘The Metamorphosis’, society and more specifically Gregor, are shown to...
‘I am separated from all things by a hollow space…and I do not even reach to its boundaries” – Kafka‘s diaries. It is no wonder that Kafka felt such a hollowness between himself and everything around him, considering that he existed within a monotonous, traditional, patriarchal and a habitual society. Such anxiety and separation from meaningfulness in life has not only been utilized by Kafka to practice self-reflection within his own stories but has also been a focal point of...
01 / 09
Fair Use Policy
EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.