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

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…

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…c. But we could also interpret this sentence in the opposite light, to assert that Gregor is an animal by dint of his ability to feel. This is supported by Gregor’s ruminations on his plan to send Grete to the Conservatory: “…and it was his secret plan that she who, unlike him, loved music and could play the violin movingly…” (27, italics added). Thus, Gregor as a human being could not derive pleasure from music, indicating that he lived in a deprived, insect-like emotional state.

As we have seen, Gregor’s mental life was extremely limited even before his physical metamorphosis. Perhaps Kafka intended this story as a means of pointing out that many people in an increasingly capitalist society, like Gregor, become more and more obsessed with money and thus live a mechanical life, like an insect. Thus, they sequester themselves from the pleasures of the soul.

Analysis of Heaney’s Mid-Term Break

Reading a story or poem about death is usually sad and overtly predictable. However, Seamus Heaney inverts this mundane typicality to deliver a poem shrouded in mystery. The main aspects of Heaney’s poem Mid-Term Break are the plot development and how the diction sets the somber tone that slowly reveals the mystery.

One technique Heaney uses is diction, which aids in plot development. In the first stanza he uses words that draw out the stanza and make it seem to last a long time. In the first line the use of the word all drags out the line. The sense of time is apparent in this first stanza. The second line, Counting bells knelling classes to a close, uses words that describe him listening and counting the bells that signal when class is out. This use of description emphasizes or supports the preceding line; I sat all morning in the college sick bay. Finally the reader is given a time, At two o clock our neighbors drove me home. The fact that the neighbors drove him home makes the reader question why that is the case. Up to this point the reader is not aware that a death in the family is the reason the boy is coming home. It could be that the boy himself is sick. In the second stanza the boy is home and sees his father crying. The reader now knows that someone died, but who is still a mystery. The use of dashes at the end of the first two lines of the second stanza aids in lengthening the stanza similarly to the first stanza but in a more somber way. The pause after his father is crying gives the reader a taste of what is happening. Then the dash after funerals in his stride, gives a pause to really bring about a somber tone. The last line of the third stanza, And Big Jim Evans saying it was…

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…box. The plot is almost fully revealed but there is still the final line, A four foot box, a foot for every year. All the mysteries are revealed with this last line. The shocking last line when the reader finds out that the boy s four-year-old brother was killed. The reader also finds out in the next to last line that a car hit him. The structure Heaney uses in this poem is what makes the poem intriguing. If he stated in the first stanza that the boy s little brother had died and he was leaving school to go see him the poem would be just another poem about death. Heaney slowly reveals the situation through his gradual plot development. The tone and the plot development lead to the shocking final line, a four foot box, a foot for every year. It is not until the final line that the reader knows that the deceased is the narrator s four-year-old brother.

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