The Metamorphosis: Themes

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  • The Metamorphosis: Themes
  • Metamorphosis
  • Grete experiences a transformation as she develops from a child into an adult. At the beginning, she is still a careless, well-off girl--as she takes on the duties of caring for Gregor and employment to help support her family, she matures. The closing scene in the tramcar signals that she is now an adult emotionally and also physically--her parents notice this. The family as a whole also undergoes a metamorphosis At first, all the family members seem hopeless from their financial situation and the strain of Gregor's current state. Over time, however, they overcome their money troubles, and when Gregor dies, the family doesn't have to deal with him anymore. They are reinvigorated.
  • Before Gregor's transformation, it was his family who relied on him--for their apartment, income, and decision-making. When he is no longer valuable as a provider (in his insect state), the family acts differently towards him. The pro of being relied upon is that one is valued. The flip side of this--and the con--is that one is unvalued once unrelied upon. Gregor has to rely on his family now. The downside of this role-switching is that Gregor is now a burden.
  • Reliance
  • It is absurd that Gregor wakes up as a giant insect: it’s physically impossible. Gregor has been a good son and brother, taking an unfavorable job to provide for his family, and planning to send his sister to study music. There's no indication that Gregor deserves what happens to him. The Samsa family is unusually calm and unquestioning. No one tries to determine what caused the change or how to fix it. Everyone focuses on adapting to it instead of curing it.
  • Absurdity
  • Isolation
  • Gregor’s change makes him literally and emotionally separate from his family members— he even refers to it as his “imprisonment.” After his transformation, he stays almost exclusively in his room with his door closed. When someone does come in, Gregor always hides under the couch. He has no way of communicating with other people. Gregor’s metamorphosis literally separates him from the human race: he's no longer human.
  • Limited Sympathy
  • The family members are both sympathetic and repulsed by Gregor. Grete and the mother hope that his humanity remains despite his appearance. Eventually, however, Gregor’s presence wears down everyone’s sympathy. Grete is so upset and revolted that she can't be in the same room with him, and his mother is horrified, too. Gregor’s presence makes them uncomfortable: they speak in whispers. They see him more and more as an insect. Significantly, it is Grete, the one most sympathetic toward Gregor, who decides they have to rid of him.
  • Abbi Cordray
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