What is reality? Every person has his or her own “reality” or truth of their existence. For some it may be nothing they expected while others can just be successful in anything. The true reality is that regardless of what direction is taken in life a person brings the same inner self, motivational levels and attitudes. As followers of literature we often escape our own “reality” and experience life through the imagination of the author’s we read. By doing so, many people find themselves gaining information about themselves.
In Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” Gregor Samsa’s reality changes indifferently in spite of his drastic physical changes. Before the Metamorphosis, Gregors life consisted of working and caring for his family. He led a life of a traveling salesman, working long hours, which didn’t permit to him living his own “life”. He reflects his own life as “the plague of traveling: the anxieties of changing trains, the irregular, inferior meals, the ever changing faces, never to be seen again, people with whom one has no chance to be friendly” (Kafka 13). Working to pay off his family’s debt, Gregor never left anytime for himself.
Kafka himself counterparts this sentiment in a quote taken from his diaries; “no matter how hard you work that work still doesn’t entitle you to loving concern for people. Instead you’re alone, a total stranger, a mere object of curiosity” (Pawel 167). So in-depth with his work, Gregor becomes unknown to himself and to life. In Gregor’s life he had no room for anyone other than his family which in the end left him without love or caring or any other kind of companionship. He worked so industriously for his family that this became his only goal in life. They became so dependent on Gregor to support them but did nothing for him in return.
Up until now Gregor was living a life of obligations, he came home every night to an empty hotel room to ensure his family was taken care of. His parents and “their dominance thus extends to the system which deprives him of creative life and married love” (Eggenschwiler 54). Apparent to everyone, Gregor was no longer thought of a member of the family but nothing more than a “support system. ” The fact of the matter become, “everyone had grown accustomed to it, his family as much as himself; they took the money gratefully, he gave it willingly but the act was accompanied by no remarkable effusiveness” (Kafka 48).
Gregor still “believed he had to provide his family with a pleasant, contented, secure life”(Emrich 149). Before the metamorphosis, Gregor’s existence was much like it was after it. After being transformed into a cockroach Gregor lived in isolation with his family. In a “dark bedroom, in the jumble of discarded furniture and filth, monstrous vermin, a grotesque, hidden part of the family”(Eggenschwiler 211). Gregor’s sister was the only one who helped poor Gregor, in his time of transformation. She was frightened but managed to put her fears aside, she even got angry with others for trying to help.
Upon his sister taking care of him, the rest of Gregor’s family would not associate with him. “No one attempted to understand him, no one, not even his sister, imagined that she could understand him”(Kafka 45). Before long, Gregor noticed that through his metamorphosis he had not lost nor gained anything. “The actual metamorphosis symbolizes a rebellion assertion of unconscious desires and energies” (Eggenschwiler 203). After the metamorphosis, Gregor’s family undergoes some pretty harsh changes. For after the change, Gregor would not be able to support his family’s lazy asses.
He went to his boss and begged him to “please sir, spare my parent” (Kafka 24). Strangely, after what his family put him through he still looked vigorously for a way to help his parents, “his duty was to remain docile and to try to make things bearable for his family”(Kafka 42). As time passes, Gregor realizes that his family doesn’t need his help and support and that he is nothing more than a burden to them. The family never realized the strain that the transformation had put Gregor through, and now they have cut off relations instead of supporting Gregor they desert him.
Even his sister had gotten to the point of no longer feeding or cleaning Gregor’s room, she might stop in and give him a piece of bread but not stay and talk to him. The thing that really got to Gregor is the memories of all the things he had done for his family and now here he is being shoved into some room and given nothing in return. Thinking of his family Gregor decides he must go. Gregor died that night and when his family found out they mourned for only a minute and went about their sick ways. Did responsibility prove to be too much for the family Gregor had taken care of for so many years?
The true reality of Gregor and his family can be seen through the resulting condition of the family itself. For five years Gregor had remained a slave to his own family not finding out they could have taken care of themselves until it was too late. Now Gregor realized he was forced to live a life of not loving anyone and basically just a life of loneliness. Upon hearing that his family could have taken care of themselves, Gregor was not angry but glad that his father had made his understand what life was about.
After observing a family who lived on in the comfort of someone else, we are shown a “family exhausted and depressed form laboring at menial jobs-messengers, seamstress, and salesgirl. In this story the “Metamorphosis”, we tend to believe that Grego’s change into a cockroach is the main purpose of the story but after close consideration I believe it was a story of the transformation of the family. Franz Kafka asks us to fathom if only for a moment the thought of our lives changing due to some radical change. Do we feel like Gregor?
Would we be better off as a “cockroach? ” I believe the answer is no. Through the “Metamorphosis” we observe as one man’s life is proven to be in vain and no better as a cockroach than a human. Can anyone be sure that their lives are good and perfect and that their family’s would understand and accept any change that could arise? However selfish this may seem, the fact is that above and beyond all things a person must consider his/her self first. Sense of self will keep you through all the adverse times in life and be a companion to rely on when no one else cares.