Existential Ideas In The Metamorphosis World Literature

1196 words - 5 pages

Existentialists believe that we define our own meaning in life. It asserts that we decide what we believe is true, right or wrong. In the very beginning in the novella The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Gregor Samsa, the protagonist, wakes up one morning in his bedroom and finds that he has turned into an insect. He struggles through working to support his family and still has to struggle, even as an insect. Existentialists themes regarding identity, alienation, and an individual’s search for meaning is shown in this novella.
Instead of finding ways to change himself back into a human being, he just thinks “What has happened to me?” (Kafka 13). His mind automatically shifts to thoughts of work. Gregor accepts and is aware that he will die soon, but still decides to live as an insect. This identifies with the existential theme regarding an individual’s search for meaning in life because he accepts that he is an insect now and chooses to live with it. Existentialists believe that we find our own meaning through choices in our lives.
It is shown that working is a part of Gregory’s identity, since he chooses to work to provide the needs for his family. Now that Gregor is turned into an insect, he can no longer go to work, leaving his family financially dependent and himself without purpose in life. Not long after he finds out that he is an insect, he worries about being late to work, “But what should he do now? The next train left at seven o’clock.” (Kafka 15). He also complains about how much he despises his work and says “If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I’d have quit ages ago…” (Kafka 14).This clearly depicts how he is only working because of his family, but he would not work if his family did not need the money. It is shown that Gregor genuinely cares for his family. He wants to send his sister to music school since he knows how much she likes to play the violin, “...to the conservatory next year, without any consideration for the significant cost that it must entail…” (Kafka 37). He does not mind the cost, but actually cares about his sister. He plans on telling his family this on Christmas Eve. But now that he is an insect, he is not able to do that.
Gregor is an traveling salesman, which means that he constantly sees people. He says “...fleeting human contact that is ever-changing, never lasting, and never expected to be genuine.” (Kafka 14). He is unable to create relationships which alienates him from everyone. Gregor can no longer communicate with his family, or any human at all. His mom says “It’s a quarter to seven. Don’t you want to be on your way?” (Kafka 15). Gregor’s mother is telling him to wake up to get to work but when he tries to speak, the words comes out “...positively distinct only in the first moment and distorted them in the next moment…” (Kafka 16). This shows how Gregor cannot communicate with other human beings anymore which is still similar to when he was a human, though this alienates him from human...

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