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The Dehumanizing Effect Of Alienation And The Restoration Of Self Identity In Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

1001 words - 5 pages

In the novella “The Metamorphosis”, Franz Kafka focuses on the topic of alienation and considers its underlying effect on self identity. The alienation Kafka promotes is propagated towards the main character Gregor Samsa, who inevitably transforms into a giant cockroach. The alienation by family relations affects him to the extent that he prioritizes his extensive need to be the family’s provider before his own well-being. This overwhelming need to provide inevitably diminishes Gregor’s ability to be humanlike. Kafka also enforces the idea of the ability to resurrect one’s self identity following psychologically demanding events. In this essay, I conceptualize Gregor Samsa’s “metamorphosis” ...view middle of the document...

Furthermore, it is also ironic that his mother is “sensible”, a Marxist characteristic of the capitalist class, that the family unit itself is indeed the root cause of Gregor’s lack of societal involvement (Sokel 216). Walter H. Sokel, using Marxist ideology, argues that work must not be merely dictated by the external need or commands of others (Sokel 216). Therefore, Gregor was bound for death when his role as a son and a brother was mistreated and instead, became an exploited laborer in his own family dynamics. In addition, Gregor finds no enjoyment in his obligated occupation as “the travelling salesman isn’t held in the highest regard” (Kafka 101). He speaks of the idea that “if [he] didn’t have to exercise restrain for the sake of [his] parents, then [he] would have quit a long time ago” (Kafka 88). Therefore, while enduring the loss of his hard-worked monetary possession, he also has to practice an occupation that gives him no satisfaction. Gregor lives an incessant life of enslavement due to his family’s exploitation which sparks his diminishing ability to be human-like; this in turn begins to take the form of a hard outer shell.

Gregor’s transformation brings violence upon him, both physical and psychological; which causes his well-being to deteriorate. In Ramon G. Mendoza’s article, he uses Kafka’s personal diary to articulate the detrimental effect physical violence has on its victims:
“[A] son lying on his sofa after having been kicked by some mysterious blow, so powerful this time, that it had sent him out of the human world and straight down to the remotest recesses of the prehuman– the dark realm of bed bugs and dung beetles.” (Mendoza 134).
This contradicts the generalization of violence being the explicit intent to injure physically, but instead it being a mediator of psychological collapse. This collapse is the dislodgment of a human thought process, influencing a self-induced disregard of identifying oneself as human. Gregor, now considered an “animal”,...

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