Individuality And Conformity In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

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“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness” (Alejandro Jodorowsky). People who have always lacked freedom fail to understand the importance of being able to grow and find individuality. Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis explores the role of the individual, and what it takes as well as what must be sacrificed in order to find contentment in a capitalistic society. Individuals find that society constantly imposes limitations upon them, most since birth. Humanity is not taught to rise above the rest, but is forced to conform. That is, unless they do not. Although the consequences of differentiating one’s self can be dire, some find that the result is invaluable. Gregor Samsa of The Metamorphosis undergoes a drastic transformation and learns …show more content…
Gregor’s orthodoxy essentially makes him a mindless individual, without any thoughts of his own. Without exploring his own feelings, he is unable to find his identity and continues to lack meaning. “He was a creature of the boss’s, spineless and stupid” (Kafka 12). The mechanized manner of Gregor’s work forces him to sacrifice any chance of individuality he has in order to conform to his boss’s expectations, and therefore the expectations of the capitalistic society. Gregor’s forfeiture of identity and the absence of his purpose are merely results of his submission to society. Gregor’s need for acceptance in society prevents him from obtaining a sense of identity, which is why he also feels the need for conformity as it gives him the false sense of identity he needs to satisfy his humanity. “I’m subjected to this torment of traveling, to the worries about train connections, the bad meals at irregular hours… The devil take it all!” (11-12). Gregor’s expressions of discontent with his job reveal that he has only undertaken this job to submit to the will of his father and the role of a son in a capitalistic society. The fact that Gregor maintains his occupation in spite of its hellish nature reinforces that he is only the result of conformity, and not an individual with a unique voice and meaning. Even after Gregor’s …show more content…
Gregor’s conformity only confirms that compliance with societal expectations prevents an individual’s conservation of identity, and they can never gain purpose as a result. Moreover, the realizations that Gregor comes to as a result of his transformation reinforce that the expectations set by society only limit an individual’s identity, posing an issue to finding their significance. Furthermore, the decay which Gregor undergoes reaffirms the struggle between identity, society, and finding purpose. Individuals in society are being told to dare to dream, to be different, and to change. But, is this really what society wants? The answer, put simply, is no. The brutality with which society attacks someone for voicing their identity and finding purpose is completely contradictory to what society says. So, as individuals, there is only one option – accepting society’s expectations or transcending these limitations and – discovering what it is to be

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