Character Of Gregor Samsa In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

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Franz Kafka lived on the fence. His indecisiveness concerning his nationality, religion, and stance on war resulted in a protracted, yet futile, struggle with himself. Was he Jewish or gentile? German or Czech? Militarist or pacifist? World War I found him surrounded by civilians who fell neatly into the categories of pacifism and militarism, but he himself was neither. The decision was made for him, however, when he developed tuberculosis. Consequently, he could neither enjoy a long life, nor sacrifice it for his nation. Likewise, Gregor Samsa is in a state of ‘purgatory’ in The Metamorphosis. He is neither entirely human nor entirely bug, as he never fully dedicated himself to either the pursuit of his own ambitions or to wholehearted servitude …show more content…
Mr. Samsa abandons his old lifestyle for a more fulfilling one, a decision he realizes Gregor should have made. While Mr. Samsa has fallen victim to physical lethargy, Gregor has succumbed to mental apathy: indecision. But Mr. Samsa decides. His new uniform symbolizes dedication to his work, which Gregor lacked. Unlike Gregor’s own uniform, Mr. Samsa’s may well be surgically attached to his body. He sleeps fully dressed, symbolizing his newfound resoluteness and commitment to his duty. This makes him strangely “peaceful,” which may be attributed to the relief of having decided to turn his life around in time. He refuses with perverse obstinacy “to exchange the chair for his bed,” as the bed symbolizes his old lethargy, and he instead remains “longer at the table,” to assert his newfound authority. The metamorphosis is also a warning for Gregor’s manager. As a businessman, he is likely torn between his work and personal life. Yet, if he fails to decide, something “of the sort that [has] happened to [Gregor]” could “happen to the chief clerk too,” and the manager seems to realize this. After witnessing Gregor’s punishment, he reacts with “a loud ‘Oh,’” not of terror but with the realization that he could incur the same fate. He leaves his work-related belongings - his stick, “along with his hat and overcoat” - behind, having seemingly decided to quit before it is too late. With the arrival of the three boarders, the Samsas become like Gregor, serving the borders as Gregor served his family. But the metamorphosis serves as a warning for them, too, and the Samsas gain the resolve that Gregor lacked. They push the borders out for good, deciding not to let themselves be controlled by

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