The Metamorphosis

Alienation and Humanity in The Metamorphosis

In his short story "The Metamorphosis" Franz Kafka examines the alienation from society that turns a human being into a bug. At the same time, he also examines how not being alienated from society and how corroborating with society can turn human beings into lesser life forms who have more in common with thoughtless, instinctual insects. Gregor Samsa is clearly unhappy with his life and alienated from the expectations placed upon him by his family in particular and society as a whole. "If I didn't have my parents to think about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything, I would let him know just what I feel," Gregor says. But of course, he can't tell his boss how he feels. How he feels is thoroughly beside the point. Gregor is a cog in the machine, not much different from a drone bee or a worker ant. Gregor's boss has no more interest in Gregor's ambitions than the queen bees have in their drones. Gregor's alienation is symbolically represented in his transformation; his bugdom is symbolic of his uselessness to the cycle once he has begun to question the validity of it. Just as humans crush bugs...

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