Breaking Free: Analysis of Theme of Alienation in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis
In the graphic novel, The Metamorphosis, written by Franz Kafka and adapted by Peter Kuper, the protagonist Gregor Samsa awoke one morning, only to find himself unable to move nor get up from bed. The graphic novel depicts Gregor’s struggle with his own freedom and responsibilities, as well as his relationship with his family, society, and his job. The narrator of the novel conveys a flat tone even when narrating the most anomalous situations, such as Gregor transforming into an insect. Kafka uses Gregor’s transformation to emphasize his (Gregor’s) struggles, leading up to the moment in which Gregor is literally thrown out of his own house by his father. In the graphic novel, Kafka uses the theme of alienation to dramatize the tension between an individual’s freedom and society’s demands and expectations.
Kafka conveys the theme of alienation by placing emphasis on mental alienation in the graphic novel. The protagonist’s mental alienation derived from his alienation from society, at work, and from his family, which he unintentionally reveals while reflecting upon his life in bed. It is seen on page 5, that Gregor seemed to have noticed his metamorphosis, however, he remained in an unfazed and calm state. Through his attitude towards his transformation, it implies that he does not view the situation as detrimental to his life. Furthermore, his metamorphosis reflects his self perception and identity as an individual. Kafka’s choice to portray Gregor as an insect suggests that he perceives himself as insignificant. Connotatively, insects are viewed as insignificant in general and this connotation reinforces the idea that Gregor perceives himself as an insignificant being. Insects are also viewed as filthy and foul, and Gregor’s presence in the family evokes fear and repulsion out of his family members. The illustration on page 27, shows Gregor’s father forcing him out of the house with a cane. The facial expression on the father is filled with disgust and the emanata drawn on the father’s forehead, which in this case are sweat drops, indicate his efforts to rid the house of Gregor’s presence. Moreover, Kafka does not choose to identify what type of insect Gregor is ,which implies that Gregor’s identity does not matter. In fact, Kafka’s uses of graphic weight on page 5, blends Gregor in with the foreground of the splash, reinforcing the idea that Gregor perceives himself as insignificant. The way in which Gregor perceives himself causes Gregor to continue working to pay off his family’s debt which is primarily the reason why Gregor alienates himself.
Kafka also conveys the theme of alienation through emphasizing social alienation in the novel. Gregor is alienated from society due to his dedication to work and his promise of paying off the family debt. Gregor reveals that he has a strong dislike for his job, however, he states that “[I]f it weren’t for [his]...