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1st Draft

Posted in Uncategorized by jgarcia1390 on the March 3, 2011

What characteristics determine a person’s worth? Is it determined by our traits or appearances? Is it the role we play or our occupation? Is it the environment we live in? Of course one could say that not only one factor determines who we are but a combination of many factors including the ones mentioned previously. “The metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, however, proves these theories wrong. It tells the story of Gregor, an everyday working classmen who wakes one morning to find that he has transformed into a giant insect. (The insect is never mentioned but one can guess that he is a cockroach.) The story does not serve to tell of his transformation but uses it as a way to prove that he is below everyone around him. In many ways Kafka uses Gregor’s character and those around him to reinforce the idea.
A deeper look at Gregor’s character shows us that he is bound by obligation to his family. After his father’s company collapses, Gregor is forced to take on the role of the bread winner. Though this title would usually be an honor, it does not for Gregor’s case because he does not do so willingly; In order to provide for his family Gregor must continuously work for a boss that he and his family are indebted to. However, despite the degrading lifestyle that Gregor lives, he is still able to afford a moderately comfortable lifestyle in the apartment that his family lives in. Again, the act of providing for his family should be something to be proud of but it only further proves that Gregor’s status as irrelevant; though he may be paying for his family to live in this apartment, Gregor is confined to the space of his room at all times. This also proves the ability to claim a space is also factors in one’s self worth.
The most dominant character in proving Gregor’s low status is his younger sister, Grete. Within the story she is shown as the blossoming daughter with an exceptional talent of music as she goes to school to possibly pursue a career with her violin. She, just by living in the apartment that Gregor pays for, is automatically invading Gregor’s space. This is not only shown by Grete physically living there but by the fact that Gregor must work a job that he obviously despises in order for her to possibly pursue her musical career. However, when she is forced to take on a job to take care of Gregor after his transformation, the effect of being forced to work a job does not lower her status but establishes her as a caretaker.
Through out the story Kafka uses Grete’s role of caretaker as a way to prove that she is above Gregor in most if not every way; both of their parents refuse to take care of him out of disgust. On a daily basis Grete, out of sympathy, leaves food for Gregor in his room. Though this may be a simple act of feeding someone who is unable to sustain themselves this proves that Grete is Gregor’s life line and that he is solely dependant on his younger sibling.
Despite how thankful Gregor may be for his sister’s care he is forced to hide under a couch every time his sister comes to feed him out of his own embarrassment. Though his room in the apartment may be Gregor’s space, Grete’s daily visits don’t only serve as a way of her showing concern but establishing her dominance by constantly coming into a space of which Gregor has an unofficial claim. The invasion of space is also depicted through Grete’s decision to move furniture out of his room on the count that he does not need them. Objects within a space are just as important as the spaces that they occupy and the act of taking furniture away from Gregor’s room is synonymous with Grete taking away him as a person.
As the plot of the story moves on Grete, along with her parents, begin to resent Gregor because of the situation he has put them in. After hearing her play her violin for new tenants his family has taken in, Gregor is moved and decides to visit the dining room where she is located. The tenants are frightened and want to leave which in turn set off a fit from Grete causing her to admit that if he really were himself that Gregor would not put his family through what they have had to deal with. She then decides that Gregor is not worth taking care of anymore. This point of the story not only proves her dominance but the fact that Gregor is completely at Grete’s mercy.
Through Kafka’s writing of The Metamorphosis we see a massive amount of our self worth is determined by the space we live in and what those around us think. Gregor being confined to his room shows how little he is appreciated. Through his sister’s eyes, Gregor is established as someone who is worth enough to take care of but as she grows to resent him, becomes someone who is absolutely worthless.

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