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The story of ‘The Metamorphosis’ is all about pain and the desire to escape it. This is evident just from the start whereby the most two probably memorable images in the story come up in the first section: first, we see the picture of Gregor Samsa is transformed into an insect which is lying on his back in the bed and not able to get up, with all his small legs trembling helplessly and weakly in the air. Second, Gregor’s picture, the huge insect stuck on his side in the bedroom doorway, seriously injured and bleeding and also powerlessly not able to move until his father pushes him into the bedroom.
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If actually this were all there were to the story, then it would be very easy to come to conclusion as it has been done by some that the story is a depiction or representation of the helplessness and horrible nature of the human race; these two images appear to say that the revolting pieces of vermin are unable to do anything.
There is a double meaning in the transformation of Gregor: it is both an escape from his cruel and oppressive life and also a representation or an amplification of it. However, even as an escape, we find that it is not very successful, in order for him to maintain his life as an untroubled, wall-climbing insect, there is need for others to take care of him: to provide him food and make his room clean. His sister who has been doing this eventually looses interest; his room then becomes untidy; as a consequence, he becomes downhearted and angry because he is neglected.
For sure, he is more than abandoned and mistreated. His father attacks him twice; the second time that he is attacked is enough to even cause a serious wound or even death. He is Unable to prevent or avoid the injury and also not able to get the treatment for it; the family seem not to care at all, and he is at their mercy.
There appears to be a problem with escaping as a response to a repressive life: the idyll of the escapist can’t be maintained; it depends on others so much. And probably, just like childhood, it can’t be expected to be there forever. He is actually more than abandoned, that is, he is living on his own.
Now, if the only character in the story was Gregor Samsa, it might still be assumed or believed that the author is painting a dark picture of the entire human condition. However, the only options that are open to him might be life as a browbeaten martyr at work and also at home or even entirely temporary escape he finds as a bug.
Nonetheless, it is true that there are some other two options that he seeks to chase. One is related with the music that is played by his sister. The music actually makes him believe that he can get some unknown nourishment, probably something spiritual, even though one that is unclear. This also makes him dream about or visualize his sister moving into his room with him and almost kissing him on the neck, showing probably kind of a closer relationship as a way out of his sufferings.
He is however disgusted when he tries to follow this option which involves his sister and music, just the same way he is disgusted in his pursuit for resistance of fighting back or countering when his possessions are taken away from him. Everybody in the story is not similarly repulsed. Gregor’s father contrary to Gregor is in a position of succeeding by seeking the way of resistance.
Furthermore, much like Gregor, his father founds himself in a subjugated and demoralized altruistic state in part three of the story, following the arrival of the three lodgers, who in some way take control in the household. Even before the three lodgers arrive, the elder Samsa has appeared to be like an unusually weak figure, except during the attack on Gregor. With Gregor as the worker, his father now becomes the dependent one and spends most of the days lying almost exhausted in a chair, putting on his bathrobe, not even able to walk or make any movement.
After his transformation, Gregor goes back to work and gains back some of his lost strength, even though he together with the rest of the family at first feel very tired and also overworked due to taking on jobs, and he sees in them a sense of total hopelessness and depression.
This is somehow a more positive and encouraging message that should be taken from the story, rather than perceiving it as depicting a generally gloomy or dark existence or probably not. All through the story, the reader has been made to familiarize with Gregor; as the story is told from his perspective or point of view, and he appears to be appealing in his altruistic way, but he is overwhelmed. And who then emerges the winner? His bullying father together with sister who betrayed him. Not everybody is doomed to be trampled like a bug, the story says that not everybody, just you and I, whereas some other people in some way get ahead at out expense (Kafka, 1972). It is a desolate conclusion.
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