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Gregor's Obsession With Money Exposed In Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis

853 words - 3 pages

Gregor's Obsession with Money Exposed in Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis

In his story The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka gives us the story of Gregor Samsa, a young man who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into an insect-like creature. Gregor, however, remains strangely indifferent to his plight, in a manner that seems inhuman to most readers. This is not due to a lack of omniscience on the narrator's part that causes the indifference to go unmentioned, and neither is it due to inobservance on the part of Gregor to the point of not noticing that he has been changed into an insect. Rather, Gregor does not pay much attention to his new form as an insect because his life as a human lacked many ordinary human characteristics. In other words, Gregor was mentally not human even before his change in physical form.

Just after his metamorphosis, Gregor makes an important observation on his job as a traveling salesman:

"Oh God," he thought, "what a grueling job I've picked! Day in, day out - on the road. The upset of doing business is much worse than the actual business in the home office, and, besides, I've got the torture of traveling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last or get more intimate. To the devil with it all!" (4)

Most "normal" people would claim that meaningful relationships constitute the core of the human experience. But Gregor's concerns seem much more mundane. He begins with complaining about the quotidian problems of his job and only in the end reaches that which is really important - and then he immediately goes on to continue thinking about his job. He is obsessed with work, "a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone" (5). He does not, as we would expect, spend any time in the moments after the metamorphosis dwelling upon his new state. Perhaps it is no shock to him.

From what we see, Gregor clearly perceives money as the root of all happiness; this explains his dedication to his job. As he looks back on his past life as a human, his one source of pride appears to be that he is the sole breadwinner for his family: "...he felt very proud that he had been able to provide such a life in so nice an apartment for his parents and his sister. But what now if all the peace, the comfort, the contentment were to come to a horrible end?" (22). He does not seem to have had close...

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