What is the true value of a human?

Franz Kafka, a 19th century author wrote the Metamorphosis. This story  is about a man, named Gregor Samsa, who woke up one day and magically got turned into a bug. Weird and creepy, right? Gregor all of a sudden becomes not valued by his family because he is now a bug. Gregor struggles with his human and bug desires as well as being useless to his family. The purpose of Kafka writing this is to provide insight on how there can be an internal conflict and how there are “useless” people who aren’t valued in society.

In past years, there was typically one provider for a family, normally the father. In the story however, the son Gregor is the sole provider. Since he became an insect, he can no longer do this and suddenly is not valued by his family. Gregor can’t even speak English anymore! Because he is an insect, he feels disappointed, not being able to provide for his family. For example, the narrator states, “…he felt great pride at having been able to give his parents and sister a life like this…But what if all this tranquility…and contentment were now coming to a horrific end?” (pg 54). Gregor suddenly realizes that he cannot support his family. His family doesn’t see him the as the same Gregor anymore. He’s no longer a valued family member. Every family has the one member that doesn’t work or is in the hospital. In society, there are “useless” people too. Many people think that the mentally ill, homeless, disabled and criminals are not contributing to society. Kafka portrays this through Gregor being an insect. Insects are “useless”, creepy and disgusting. Kafka chose a bug because that’s often how people see the non contributors of society.

When someone sees a bug, their main instinct is to shoo it away or kill it. In the novel, Gregor’s father tries to do both. He first shoos Gregor in his room, right after his transformation, where he permanently stays. Later in the novel his father comes home, sees that Gregor escaped out of his room and tries to kill him by throwing apples at him. This relates to the “useless” people of society. Death is a little out there however, some people want the non contributors of society gone, out of sight (out of mind). Kafka wrote this story because he wants the readers to know what being a non contributor of society is like, confined and shamed, how Gregor is. This is important because Kafka was a non contributor of society, by being a Jewish Czech-German during the 19th century. People during this time hated the Jews for many reasons. Because Kafka didn’t have a clear identity of being Czech or German, this created internal conflict. Gregor also had internal conflict, by being part human and part insect. He has human desires but bug reflexes. It is quite possible that Kafka had conflict between which identity to have. The importance of portraying Gregor as a bug is to show readers internal conflict and being a “useless” member of society.





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  7. Its interesting how you related Gregor as the bug to Kafka not being accepted. You could discuss what it means to be a valued member of society and why those why are not are looked down upon. You could go into detail of why it is the disabled, homeless, mentally ill, etc. are treated as less than others and how this impacts their life. We live in a somewhat selfish society and if someone else’s life does not benefit ours we seem to sometimes disregard them or forget about them.

  8. I was very interested in the last paragraph when you mentioned Kafka not being accepted. It makes complete sence when you talk about him and the internal conflicts he has. You could go into more detail on this, I believe this idea would make a great paper.

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