In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, the main character, Gregor, was immediately morphed into a giant bug in the first line of the story. This physical metamorphosis was parallel to the psychological state of Gregor. He, before the metamorphosis, was a successful businessman who fully supported the living of both his parents and his sister. The family was totally dependent on him, yet did not seem to show the appreciation and credit due to one who put the food on the table. This type of treatment could very possibly cause the downward spiral in anyone that Gregor experienced.
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Gregor’s father was a tough man with tough expectations for Gregor to live up to. He possibly had even been violent in nature towards Gregor before, or at the least threatening, as was evident when he first saw that Gregor had changed into a bug, and his initial response was that he “looked hostile and clenched a fist as if to force Gregor back into his room”. This clearly did not show the love of a father that Gregor, or anybody for that matter, needed and looked for. After the mysterious morph took place, the main character was very unsure of himself and the thoughts of his family. He was put into his room and left alone. His father decided to not relate to him in any form or fashion; he did not communicate with him or even go and look at him for months on end. He completely abandoned him. Gregor also still had the images engraved in his memory that, in the past, whenever he would return from a business trip, his father “had greeted him from an armchair in his dressing-gown when Gregor returned home in the evening; had even found it beyond him to rise to his feet, merely raising his arms to indicate that he was pleased”. Once, when Gregor, as the bug, obtained some temporary freedom from his room and ventured into the living room, his father grabbed several apples from the fruit bowl and “had decided to bombard him.” One of the throws gave a devastating blow and even blurred all his senses. In Gregor’s mind, what other response was there to this abandonment and abuse but to isolate himself from his father? He knew that nothing was going to please his father and that he was a horrible creature for his father to even look upon.
Another important figure who Gregor looked to for approval was his mother. She, however, did not respond and act towards Gregor in the same way that his father did. Instead of the aggressive and violent treatment, she responded in a more passive way. She initially did not seem to care to visit her son after he was locked up into his room. She avoided him. Eventually, she did come around and help move some furniture out of his bedroom so that he could crawl around on the walls and ceilings a little more freely; however, she could not bear to see him. When she did see him at one point on his wall, she “cried out…in a shrill, strident voice…and with arms outstretched as if giving up altogether fell back on the couch and lay still.” To the rest of the family, this response was understandable considering that her son was a giant bug, but Gregor, even though he might have empathized in one regard, had to feel rejected knowing that at the sight of him his mother screamed and passed out. His mother’s passivity and the thought of him being a repulsive creature to her only caused the giant bug to isolate himself even more.
Perhaps a more devastating blow to Gregor’s psychological state came from his sister, Meg. Oh, how he loved his little sister. She was the only one that actually took care of him and had compassion towards him. Gregor appreciated and loved his sister so much that he was secretly planning on sending her to the Conservatory to further her music studies and violin playing; this was a dream she had had that she thought would never come to pass, and because of the fact that Gregor morphed into a bug and could no longer communicate to anyone, he now could not give Meg this wonderful gift. This was just another factor in Gregor’s downward spiral.
The sole reason that Gregor as the giant bug stayed alive as long as he did was because of Meg. She met his hunger pangs by supplying him food, and just by being there for him caused a lift in his spirit. But the tragedy struck one day for Gregor when Meg completely disconnected any emotional ties with him. She explained to her parents, “we can’t go on like this. I see that even if you perhaps don’t. I refuse to utter my brother’s name in front of this creature, so all I say is: we must try to get rid of it. We’ve tried our level best to look after it and put up with it, and I believe no one can reproach us in the slightest.” This was the dagger for Gregor. Not only did he isolate himself from both his father and mother, he now had to isolate himself from his sister, the only one who ever looked after and cared about him.
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Isolation seemed the only solution to Gregor, the giant bug. This was his psychological metamorphosis. He once was a well-to-do businessman with something to strive for and a reason to live who morphed into a creature of isolation and despair. He had absolutely nobody to turn to. There was nobody who would talk to him, visit him, or could even listen to him. He had absolutely no hope. He kept spiraling downward until he hit rock bottom. After Meg closed his bedroom door and locked him in one last time, “independently of his will, his head sank to the floor and his last breath streamed feebly from his nostrils.” Even though his family felt as though they were brought to freedom, Gregor’s psychological metamorphosis finally brought him to death.
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