metamorphosis n.
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  1. Metamorphosis Section III

  2. Metamorphosis Suppose all that you have always valued in your lives was shown to you to be: illusion. What would it be like to turn truth on her head? To have your precious beliefs, maxims, platitudes, and traditions inverted and distorted beyond recognition? To suddenly realize that what is good, is bad; what is beauty, is foul; what is virtue, vice? What if all your points of reference were to shift: North becomes South; black becomes white; deviant becomes saint; saint becomes deviant. Suppose that this transformation--a metamorphosis of perception were to come to you -- and you alone. Suddenly you awake -- and in utter solitude -- you discover that the world is its opposite.

  3. Metamorphosis Two realities strike you all at once: One, you define yourself in terms of your values. With your values now reversed, so too are you reversed: you are a roach! Two, what you have become is apparent to everyone else. Gregor Samsa has burrowed his way out of the value set that defined his social setting. The metamorphosis was inevitable. Look at where his values were anchored: servant to the needs of an oppressive boss in order to meet the needs of an exploitive family. So, he ceases to serve. With new values opposing those of the family, the employer, and society at large, Gregor emerges as a deviant. He has entered the world of the despised. Never forget, my friends, that "truth" is in the eye of the beholder. In Gregor's world the despised and the beloved are reversed.

  4. Themes • Alienation and isolation • Father son relationship • Self-sacrifice

  5. Gregor’s Transformation • Father may realize actions- remorse • They will “endure” Gregor • Autobiographical- Kafka’s relationship with his father • “…since no one ventured to remove the apple, it remained in his flesh as a visible reminder- seemed by itself to have reminded the father that, in spite of his present unhappy and hateful appearance, Gregor was a member of the family, something one should not treat as an enemy, and that it was on the contrary, a requirement of family duty to suppress one’s aversion to endure– nothing else, just endure”(20)

  6. Transformation • Family constantly reminded of Gregor’s burden • “’This is a life. This is the peace and quiet of my old age’” (21) • Gregor never complained of his burden • “In this overworked and exhausted family who had time to worry any longer about Gregor more than was absolutely necessary” (21)

  7. Transformation • “The main thing holding the family back from a change in living quarters was far more their complete hopelessness and the idea that they had been struck by a misfortune like no one else in their entire circle of relatives and acquaintances” (21) • So was Gregor • Could have moved earlier to help alleviate Gregor’s burden

  8. Gregor’s Transformation • Gregor’s thoughts begin to change • “But then he was in no mood to worry about his family. He was filled with sheer anger over the wretched care he was getting, even though he couldn’t imagine anything which he might have an appetite for.” (22) • He becomes angry • No self-sacrifice?

  9. Gregor’s Transformation • “Gregor ate hardly anything anymore.” (23) • Use room for storage • Lodgers • “They sat down at the head of the table, where in earlier days the mother, the father, and Gregor had eaten…” (23) • Isolation and alienation

  10. Gregor’s Transformation • Family reached low point • Gregor holds them hostage as they once did him • Gregor has seem to given up hope • “I really do have an appetite …but not for these things. How these lodgers stuff themselves, and I am dying” (24) • “He was indifferent to everything…” (24)

  11. Gregor’s Decline • He has disappeared as a human and now Grete wants him to disappear altogether “" 'He must go,' cried Gregor's sister, 'that's the only solution, Father. You must just try to get rid of the idea that this is Gregor. The fact that we've believed it for so long is the root of all our trouble. But how can it be Gregor? If this were Gregor, he would have realized long ago that human beings can't live with such a creature and he'd have gone away on his own accord. Then we wouldn't have any brother, but we’d be able to go on living and keep his memory in honor. As it is, this creature persecutes us, drives away our lodgers, obviously wants the whole apartment to himself and would have us all sleep in the gutter.' " (26) He has been rejected for the final time.

  12. Gregor’s Death • “Then without willing it, his head sank all the way down, and from his nostrils flowed out weakly his last breath” (27) • Dies alone, isolated and alienated • Same as before transformation • Irony • “She thought he lay so immobile there because he wanted to play the offended party…she tried to tickle Gregor with it from the door” (25-26) • Sad life = sad death

  13. Gregor’s Death • Family is relieved of the burden and may begin their new lives • “Leaning back comfortably in their seats, they talked to each other about future prospects, and they discovered that on closer observation these were not at all bad, for the three of them had employment, about which they had not really questioned each other at all, which was extremely favorable and with especially promising prospects” (29) • “And it was something of a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when at the end of their journey their daughter got up first and stretched her young body”(30)