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The Dehumanization of Gregor in Kafka’s Metamorphosis

The Dehumanization of Gregor in The Metamorphosis

In the novella The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, the main character Gregor undergoes a physical transformation from human to bug. Despite this change in appearance, he maintains his human brain as insect tendencies slowly take over his day to day behavior. He maintains his thoughtless state of mind, memories, and inner dialogue during his exterior transformation. Although he maintains his mental capacities, it is his change in appearance that causes his family to turn against him and eventually kill him. These events show how people can become dehumanized by society and the government only because of a difference in behavior or appearance.

In Gregor’s case, he is transformed in an extreme manner and only remains human in his thoughts and emotions. “He found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” This extreme form of physical transformation is used to show how even a person’s own family can, under certain conditions, reject, mistreat, and eventually kill because of a change in outward appearance or behavior….

Essay on Indifference in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

Killing Indifference in The Metamorphosis

Even before the beginning of the story, each member of the Samsa family in

Franz Kafka¹s Metamorphosis serves a specific purpose. Gregor Samsa, the

tragic protagonist of the story, performs his job with routine precision.

It is this role as a provider that sustains his relationship to his family.

But at the onset of the story, Gregor is inexplicably transformed into a

³gigantic insect.² (p.67) In addition to jeopardizing his role in both

society and work, this transformation severely effects his relationship with

his family. The consequent indifference, alienation, and finally hatred

that he elicits from his family is the source of his demise. For without

the emotional sustenance and the essential role within the family that

Gregor had occupied previous to his metamorphosis, he is not able to sustain


Even after Gregor has become an insect, his initial reaction is not one of

alarm. Surprisingly, his first response is to devise some sort of plan to

secure his job and hence his role in the family. The only call to urgency

that interrupts his ³cool reflection² is the arrival of the chief clerk

(p.73). Accordingly, Gregor laments his fate of ³being condemned to work

for a firm where the smallest omission can give rise to the highest

suspicion² (p.74). It is as if he would most likely entirely overlook his

more immediate and pressing condition of being an insect if it did not

impede his ability to go to work. Gregor, in fact, finally risks bodily harm

only due to the ³agitation² he feels over the thought of his parents

becoming unsettled by their son¹s tardiness and the pres…

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implores Grete to her father while she is persuading him to exterminate the


But the damage is already done. The Samsa family¹s exclusion of Gregor is

what causes his demise. Even though the description of his death does

involve physical characteristics, it is Gregor¹s memory of his family that

effects him the most. During his final moments, he describes the apple

which is embedded in his back as ²…hardly troubl[ing] him²(p.127). He

then proceeds to ³[think] of his family with tenderness and love² (p.127).

This thought process represents Gregor¹s need to be at peace with the family

of which he was such an integral part prior to his metamorphosis. For

without the love and affection and nurture that Gregor both provided and

received, he is forced to succumb to his physical demise.

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