Metamorphosis of the Family in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

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The Metamorphosis of the Family


Before the caterpillar can transform into a butterfly, it must go through a metamorphosis. The cocoon in which the caterpillar hibernates is in fact just a conveyance towards another life form. Gregor, in Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis, is similarly a vehicle for such an important transformation, in this case the reformation of his family. The metamorphosis of Gregor facilitates the gradual change of his entire family, demonstrating that an outside source is sometimes needed in order to push people out of stagnation and into life.

Before the family members begin to make their transformations, they rely heavily on Gregor. The dutiful son sets out to provide for his family after the failure
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As David Eggenschwiler says, "the three Samsas [the family] . . . assume and struggle with many of the problems that Gregor once had" (208). No longer able to rely on Gregor, the family must now face the difficulties of supporting the household and providing income. As a result, each member of the family: the mother, the father, and the sister, slowly has a metamorphosis.

Throughout the course of the story, Gregor's mother gradually changes, becoming more self-sufficient. In the early stages of the story, Gregor describes his mother as having severe asthma, which "kept her lying on a sofa every other day panting for breath" (97). The mother seems destined to be a bystander, incapable of working or taking action. However, as the story progresses, she desires to see her lost son and develops a more adventurous spirit. She cries, "do let me in to Gregor, he is my unfortunate son" (100). She slowly begins to emerge from her secluded world and realizes the harsh reality of her son's predicament and the effects of his transformation on the family. With this realization, she also begins to find a life of her own, taking up sewing for "an underwear firm" (111). The mother's sewing allows her to move forward rather than remain static. Thus, she is contributing to the family, as well as securing her own identity. She leaves behind her shell and discovers the independent and resourceful…

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