“When he lifted his head a little, he saw his vaulted brown belly, sectioned by arch-shaped ribs, to whose dome the cover, about to slide off completely, could barely cling. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, were waving helplessly before his eyes.” Gregor Samsa is the main character in this story to go through a metamorphosis. This change has turned Gregor into a “monstrous vermin”. Kafka expresses the anxieties, inner terrors, and cynicism of Gregor’s life throughout the novella, Metamorphosis. Gregor’s feelings towards his job, the effect his job has on his family, and the cruelty that his family displays show many of the changes that occur in the story. The novel opens with Gregor in his monstrous state, late for work. He surmises that his job as a traveling salesman is very important, since he has to pay off his father’s debts, yet he is growing extremely tired and frustrated about it. “The upset of doing business is much worse than the actual business in the home office, and, besides, I’ve got the torture of traveling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last or get more intimate. To the devil with it all!” Gregor has a great amount of anger towards his job, which soon leads to his resentment towards society as a whole. The fact that his office manager showed up at Gregor’s house plays an immense role in creating apprehension and anxieties in Gregor’s mind. He feels strangled by his job and is too weak to tolerate the pressure. Along with the pressure created by his office manager and society, the Samsa’s, especially Gregor’s father, take advantage of him. Gregor earns the basic income to support his family. “But of course he actually could have paid off more of his father’s debt to the boss with this extra money, and the clay on which he could have gotten rid of his job would have been much closer, but now things were undoubtedly better, the way his father had arranged them.” The bad taste of the Samsa’s has put Gregor in a difficult position, which I feel is one of the largest issues leading to Gregor’s metamorphosis. Gregor’s family in general had given him the negative attitude he has on life. They took advantage of him to the point where he was the means of the family’s survival. After Gregor’s metamorphosis, when he could no longer attend work, his family begins to treat him as the vermin he has supposedly become. They no longer consider him a human being, or even a member of their family. Gregor was practically waiting for his family to give up hope in him so he could end his life. “He thought back on his family with deep emotion and love. His conviction that he would have to disappear was, if possible, even firmer than his sister’s.” Following this quotation, Gregor Samsa commits suicide. He felt he was no longer needed, as a salesman, a son and brother, or a member of society, and gives up his measly life.
The anxieties, inner terrors, and cynicism of life in general were all factors leading to the metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa. Gregor died of a broken heart. His family and society also had a major part in bringing Gregor to his final state. Kafka used Gregor’s metamorphosis into a vermin as an symbol for Gregor’s transformation in which he alienated himself from everything, and most importantly, from himself.
The other main metamorphosis that occurs in the short story deals with Gregor’s father, although I do not feel it is as major of a change. When Gregor is no longer able to work, his father takes back over the role of head of the household, which he obviously did not want to do. The main change dealing with Gregor and his father is the reversal of father and son back to their original positions. After years of not working, Gregor’s father does not want to handle the change and responsibility that now faces him so he turns his anger at working towards his son. He feels that it