Literaryworks are almost always aimed at sending a particular messageregarding the society that the authors live in through primarilydepicting the ills in these societies. Indeed, literary works will,more often than not incorporate hidden meanings that can only bedeciphered by examining the literary devices. This is the case of thestory “”, which, right from the beginningincorporates numerous symbols that tell a deeper story.
“Themetamorphosis” details the life of a travelling salesman named“Gregor Samsa, who wakes up and finds that he has been transformedto a monstrous vermin. Quite expectedly, he is shocked by thetransformation and is afraid of letting in his relatives to his room.Eventually, the relatives break the door to his room and aresurprised to see the giant insect. Initially, Gregor’s sister Greteis sufficiently courageous as to get into her brother’s room.However, this courage and compassion for the insect that was herbrother webs away and she is absorbed with the business of earningsome money for the sustenance of the family. Gregor, ultimately, diesand his body is disposed of by the charwoman hired to undertake theheavy work that Gregor used to do around the house. By the end of thestory, Gregor’s parents are optimistic about the future and seem tohave moved on from the happenings of their dead son, and are insteadabsorbed with the beauty and vivacity of their daughter.
Ofcourse, the use of the “dung beetle” is not aimed at insinuatingbecoming a vermin in the literary or technical sense of the word.This is aimed at creating the image of an unclean animal that cannotbe used by human beings. In essence, the transformation of Gregorfrom a human being to a vermin or giant beetle is not an actual onerather than symbolic, which means could mean that he has become avermin in a psychological or moral sense. Of particular note is thefact that his verminous nature may be an indirect expression of theselfish desire that he has to free himself from the obligations heowes to his family. It is also noteworthy that he is initially afraidof letting his parents and relatives know about his true nature orrather his true feelings until they really need to see him and breakthe ‘barriers” that stand between them and his true nature.Indeed, this is also supported by the fact that the parents are quickto forget and neglect them after he turns to a vermin and even turntheir attention to the daughter who has become even more vivaciousand beautiful. It is noteworthy that the usefulness of the daughteris not in question especially considering that she has even taken upthe responsibility of running the home.
Thesymbol of the dung beetle is complemented by numerous other symbolsin the story. This is particularly the case for the apples that werethrown at Gregor by his parents after he decided to get out as agiant vermin. To get him (or it) back into the room, the Gregor’sfather Samsa threw apples at him (KafkaandStanley28). The apples are a symbol of Gregor’s family’s rejection ofthe new life that he has taken up as a giant vermin. It is wellacknowledged that after the family realizes that Greg would neverhave the capacity to cater for their living, they deemed him uselessand were unwilling to take care of him. His new nature as an insect(and a useless one at that) brought shame and anger to his family.These feelings of shame and anger from the family may be shown by theforce with which the apple was thrown at him. Of particular note isthe fact that the soft apples managed to penetrate the ponderousexoskeleton of the new form of Greg.
Similarly,there is the picture of a woman in furs, which Greg had cut out whenhe was still human. This picture is initially described at theformative stages of the story. It is noteworthy that when the familycleared furniture from his room, he was happy to have more space inwhich he could crawl. However, he panicked and managed to cling ontothe picture and covers it hoping that it would remain in the room(KafkaandStanley45). The removal of furniture from the room may be a symbol of theloss of humanity that previously characterized Greg’s life, whichmeans that he is in the final stages of the metamorphosis to becomingan insect or vermin. It is worth noting that the strong attachmentthat Greg has for the picture does note emanate from the picture’scontent rather it derives from the fact that he cut it out of themagazine and fixed it on the wall when he still had human tendencies.In essence, it may be seen as a reminder of the former self or thefact that a human being was living in that room at one time.
Kafka,Franz, and Stanley Corngold. TheMetamorphosis.Toronto: Bantam Books, 1986. Print.