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Alienation Essay

Metamorphosis is a change in physical form or structure. In The Metamorphosis, there is a literal change in the protagonist, Gregor Samsa’s, physical form from a man to an insect. This metamorphosis brings to light one of the major themes in the novel; the theme of alienation. Today’s society demands conformity to its norms and any individual who refuses to accept these faces alienation. Such is the fate of Gregor in the story. Before Gregor’s metamorphosis, he is alienated from his job, humanity, his family, and even his body. The metamorphosis, however, takes the alienation to a different plane. In the story, Gregor’s job precipitates his alienation from society, his family, and himself. Gregor’s initial alienation is from his physical body and as the story progresses we find that Gregor’s life as an insect is not much different from his life as a human.

From the first few paragraphs we get the impression that Gregor’s metamorphosis has only transformed him from one body to a less convenient one. He does not seem frazzled by his transformation, but explores his new body and tries to work with it. He observes his “numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk” (Kafka, 494), he feels a “dull ache he had never experienced before” (495), and he discovers a place on his body that he cannot itch. Gregor does not seem to have any emotional change due to this transformation. This is evident when he wakes up after his transformation and is annoyed that he cannot go to sleep because he cannot turn onto his right side. He also thinks about how he can no longer attend work.


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