Human" After All - Humanity in "The Metamorphosis" by Frank Kafka

Essay by kirkieCollege, UndergraduateA-, May 2006

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Gregor Samsa's sacrifice, already great as it is, becomes even greater when he turns into a giant bug. At first both he and his family are in denial; Gregor attempts to go to work, having "no intention at all of deserting his family", and his mother speaks of the time "when Gregor returns to us", as though he will recover. His sister Grete brings him food and cares for him; "milk had always been his favorite drink, and that was surely why his sister had put it down for him". But his father, who never mentions any hope that Gregor will change, drives him back to his room "threatening to deal him a deadly blow". Gregor's family is only willing to help him as long as they believe that he may recover, and when he persists in his insect state, they neglect him. As soon as the money they have saved runs out, Gregor's parents and sister are forced to work and find that they have no taste for sacrifice.

Herr Samsa becomes prone to saying "What a life this is. Such is the peace of my old age". Grete neglects to clean Gregor's room; "streaks of dirt ran the length of the walls". Eventually she gives up on him completely, saying of Gregor, "we must try and get rid of it".

Though Grete claims that the family has done "everything humanly possible to look after it", it is ironically Gregor who remains more human than his family, who now refer to him as "it". He never stops wanting to sacrifice himself for them in whatever way he can. He does his best to spare them the sight of him; after realizing that his sister hates to see him, "he transports a sheet to the sofa on...