The Existentialism of Metamorphosis
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines existentialism as a concept of “[assuming] ultimate responsibility for acts of free will,” this meaning that a person has control over their ultimate destination In life through the choices they make. Some may say that this describes Metamorphosis and the journey that Gregor undertakes. The novella is, in truth, a perfect example of the opposite of existentialism. The first counter-argument to the idea of existentialism that presents itself in the novella was at the very beginning.
The event that sparks the entire story, Gregor’s transformation, is entirely outside the realm of his control. He awoke and “found himself changed into a monstrous vermin” (3). Not only does Gregor not have control of the situation, he doesnt even know that anything has happened to him until he wakes up. He has no choice in the matter of turning into a giant insect. This transformation disgusts Gregors family. Over time, it turns them against him, even though everything Gregor does in his life seems to be centered around the happiness and comfortability of his family.
He works as a traveling salesman to pay off the debts of his parents, and had even planned to send his sister away to perfect her skills at playing the vlolln. Eventually his entire family grows to resent him, even his sister whom he cared so deeply for, and who takes care of Gregor when he first changes. She eventually even goes as far as to say that the family “must try to get rid of [Gregory (51 With total disregard to all of the things he has done for them, his family leaves him virtually abandoned. This same abandonment is what eventually leads to Gregor’s death.
When he first hanges, his sister takes the time to pay attention to what he does and does not like. When she realizes that he Ilkes to crawl on the walls, she tries to move furniture so that he can do so more easily. She brought him all types of food so that she could know what he would eat. However, as time marches on, she gives no thought to Gregor. She barely feeds him, and when she does, she makes no effort to give him food that he actually finds edible. Giving Gregor space no longer becomes a priority, and extra furniture is moved into his room, which is never even cleaned anymore.
This neglect drives him to death, partially from starvation, and partially from the lack ofa will to live and be a burden to the people that he loves. Some people may argue the existentialism and that Gregor could have done more to try to fix his situation. There are very few things Gregor could have done. He could no longer communicate with his family, and therefore could not connect with them on a personal level. This is why Gregor has no freedom of choice. His family wrote him off as a beast, and as something that could not be reasoned with.
The only eason they kept him alive was out of a sense of obligation to their son. Eventually this feeling of obligation wore off, The events that happen to and around Gregor that affect him and change his life are completely outside his control. This lack of choice is what makes this story not about existentialism, but about the effects of being separated from fellow mankind and not being given the ability to make choices. over their ultimate destination in life through the choices they make. Some may say that this describes Metamorphosis and the Journey that Gregor undertakes.
The of the situation, he doesn’t even know that anything has happened to him until he This transformation disgusts Gregor’s family. Over time, it turns them against him, her skills at playing the violin. Eventually his entire family grows to resent him, even of [Gregor]” (51). With total disregard to all of the things he has done for them, his When she realizes that he likes to crawl on the walls, she tries to move furniture so of a will to live and be a burden to the people that he loves. this feeling of obligation wore off.