The Metamorphosis

A Psychological Reading of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Gregor Samsa’s unconscious can be explained through three important symbols prevalent in The Metamorphosis. According to the Freudian theoretical framework, these three symbols are personified in Samsa’s mother, father and sister. For Samsa, his family members represent his id, superego and his ego. Samsa’s sister represents his id, his father represents his superego and his mother represents his ego. Within a Freudian framework, the id represents the subconscious drive of appetite, survival and primal desire. The superego has to do with disciplining the id, and provides the capacity for shame, guilt and repression for the sake of social acceptance. The ego has to do with a realistic balance between discretion and self-denial and the satiation of appetite along with the realization of personal satisfaction.

Samsa’s sister, the “id”, fits her role by predicting Samsa’s immediate needs. She provides Samsa with food, and when Samsa rejects the food he’s given, experiencing a new appetite, Grete, his sister, reacts by bringing him an array of food from which he can freely choose what he would prefer to eat: “To test his taste, she brought him an entire selection, all spread out on an old newspaper.” (Kafka, 13) Likewise, when Samsa...

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