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The Loss Of Humanity Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"

1595 words - 6 pages

The Loss of HumanityLanguage forms the basis of civilization. Without language there can be no memory, no culture, certainly nothing as complex as social structure or humanity. In Franz Kafka's, "The Metamorphosis" the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, loses part of his speech faculty. In fact, he turns into a bug and, as his capacity for language slowly deteriorates even his mind and personality begin to seem less human. Gregor's transformation obliges the rest of his family to change, in order to support themselves once it is clear Gregor is not going to recover from his affliction. In the end the tragedy lies, not with the death of Gregor, but in the life it is obvious his sister Grete will be forced to live, taking Gregor's place.When Gregor Samsa first wakes as an insect he still has his entire capacity for language, and can make himself understood to his family on the other side of his bedroom door. Very rapidly, however, he loses his ability to speak; at first he has to strain to be clear, placing large spaces between his words and speaking very slowly, until at last this fails him too, and he can no longer be understood by anyone. This loss of language is the direst part of Gregor's transformation, because once he loses the ability to communicate with those around him, they very quickly begin to forget that he was once human. The family only sees Gregor as human while he can interact with them. Gregor is defined by his loss of language, and he is found repulsive and shunned. His inability to explain himself leaves a hopelessly large gap between him and his family members.Once language is lost in any human, they become less than human, or considered so. Gregor manifests this with his literal metamorphosis into a giant insect. It seems though, that Gregor loses only half of his capacity for language. Although his family assumes he has lost the ability to communicate entirely, he is still able to understand what he hears. He actually strives to hear them, "But although Gregor could get no news directly, he overheard a lot from neighboring rooms, and as soon as voices were audible, he would run to the door of the room concerned and press his whole body against it" (7). In the beginning of his new life as a bug Gregor yearns for human contact, still defining himself as human. His parents, having never been close to him, and having thought of him only as a breadwinner for several years, readily accept his new role as burdensome insect:Gregor's father... seized in his right hand the walking stick which the chief clerk had left behind on a chair... snatched in his left hand a large news paper from the table and began stamping his feet and flourishing the stick and the newspaper to drive Gregor back into his room. No entreaty of Gregor's availed, indeed no entreaty was even understood, however humbly he bent his head his father only stamped more loudly. (4)Grete however, having stayed close to her brother seems to understand that he needs her, without...

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