m Metamorphosis essaysThe Metamorphosis as Social Criticism Society often works against itself in one way or another.
In reading Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka one could presume the work to be a social criticism. Throughout this story Kafka shows how society can be split into different sections, with Gregor representing the working man at the time, and his family representing all the other kinds of people throughout society. This story shows how Gregor has worked for his family in the past, and how he subconsciously thought he had control over them. He works at an intolerable job of hard work to support his family, and gets little respect for this. It shows what happens to him when he stops working for them, he transforms into a huge cockroach. He is rejected by his family, and he is not cared for properly which results in his death. Following Gregors death is a gleeful ending, which eventually implies that the cycle will be repeated, though this time through his sister.
It is apparent even in the first sentence “As Gregor awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into a gigantic insect” (P862, Ph1) that Kafka meant something underneath the surface. Awakening from uneasy dreams could mean awakening from an uneasy, labored life by quitting it all. His transformation could mean how society can compare him to a cockroach for his giving up on them and treat him as if he was less than human.
Gregor has obviously had a life of hard labor at a job that he finds to be unbearable; as he states “Oh, God what an exhausting job I’ve picked” (P862 Ph4). He feels that he must work though. He feels that his family is incapable of supporting themselves. His mother has asthma, his father is old, and his sister is very young. As it turns out though, in the end, his family was perfectly capable of supporting themselves; In fact his father had been saving up money the entire time. In reading this first portion of the story one would be led to believe that Kafka is making a statement of how the working man feels that his life, and others would be in jeopardy if he were to stop working.
Maybe Kafka is representing Gregors family as the lower class. Once Gregor gives up working for his family he finds himself transformed into a big ugly cockroach, the lowest form of life. It’s clear why gregor gave up working for his family when he turns the key to the door and says “They should have called out keep going, turn that key!'” (P868 Ph3) what he needed were words of encouragement, words he never received. This could plausibly be a metaphor that the working people in society are way overworked, and get very little respect for it. It is obvious that Gregor appears disgusting to others that see him when the chief clerk runs away at first glimpse of him. This is his punishment for not working. His grotesque figure represents what he thinks people think of him.
In a way this is saying, When the working man, stops working he believes people will very him as a disgusting figure one that can do nothing but live off of others. At this point Gregor’s position, and respect in the household decrease rapidly to a point of near nonexistence. He can’t even talk to people, this is established earlier on in the story when The chief clerk says “that was no human voice” (P867 Ph4). His family locks him in his room, and feeds him old rotting food. They completely desert him, and try to move on with their lives.
Gregor at this point experiences feelings of lost empathy, and longs to communicate with others. This could represent the working mans fear of poverty, it has been established that when the working man quits he becomes a disgusting creature in his and everyone’s eyes; now that’s not the main fear in the working man, it’s loss of being cared for, and loss of communication in being poor, dependent, and powerless. His not being able to speak represents the lower class man’s being silenced. How his family gives up on him, and deserts him is how society gives up on the poor, or the homeless. Throughout Gregors life as a cockroach, he finds himself to be treated more like an animal each day, like being served “a piece of cheese that he would have called uneatable”(P873 Ph1). He even finds himself to be acting like an animal, “he quickly devours the cheese”(P873 Ph1). He appears to have given up on life.
He is not cared for properly, and eventually withers away, and dies. This shows how society doesn’t really care about the working man. In fact, it shows how society couldn’t care less if he died, in fact it would brighten up their day. Even his own mother says “‘now thanks be to god'” (P890 Ph2) upon first discovery of the body.
In the end though, after Gregors death the mood suddenly changes from gloom to glory, a surprising twist of what one would think. The mood is peaceful, they family goes out on a stroll. Everyone appears to be in a good mood. The double twist is when Gregors father looks at Grete, and thought of the kind of man she could marry. This is actually a funny ending because it shows just how horrible Gregors family really is. All they can think of is who will fill Gregors shoes as a care taker for them. This is symbolic of what society thinks of the average working man.
They use you, abuse you, throw you away, and then ask for seconds; “It was like a confirmation of their new dreams, and excellent intentions that at the end of their long journey their daughter sprang to her feet and stretched her young body”(P892 Ph1). I believe that the overall moral to the story is how society should give much more credit to people who keep the world running, and that life should not be all about work, silence, and punishment. I also think it is about society’s moralities, and how they have reduced to such a despicable level, I think Kafka cries change. It should now be clear that Kafka shows how society can be split into into different sections, with Gregor representing the working man at the time, and his family representing all the other kinds of people throughout society. Society often works against itself in one way or another.