We'd all like to think our families would accept us if we turned into giant bugs, but for Gregor Samsa, that was not quite the case.
|Author||Kafka - Franz Kafka|
|Themes||Foolishness and Folly|
Man and the Natural World
Memory and the Past
. . .it’s not one of those times. So, why did Kafka turn our hero into a giant
bug? Was Gregor’s transformation into a cockroach.
. . .a stand-in for Kafka’s own feelings of being alienated in life?
Maybe… Kafka was a Jew…
. . .and Anti-Semites actually referred to Jews as Ungeziefer <un-getz-ee-fer>. . .
. . .Kafka’s original word defining Gregor’s new form.
Just because English translations use “bug” or
“insect” . . .
. . .doesn’t mean that Kafka wasn’t trying to make a point.
Another popular theory. . .
. . .is that Gregor’s transformation into a disgusting bug. . .
. . .was to symbolize how workers in our capitalistic society were being dehumanized.
To put it another way, people were feeling small and unappreciated. . .
. . .kind of like… you guessed it. Since bugs don’t have thoughts or feelings.
. . .they can easily be squashed without guilt.
Heck, even Gregor’s loving sister, his own flesh and blood, wanted him gone.
But here’s something else to chew on.
Gregor didn’t seem all that unhappy being a cockroach.
Maybe Kafka meant his story to be about the refusal to conform.
Gregor hated his boring job. . .
. . .and found a way to get out of doing it.
Okay, so he did die in the end. . .
But the only reason he shipped off to cockroach heaven. . .
. . . was because somebody else had a problem with his new look.
So, what was Kafka trying to say? Was that giant insect supposed to awaken our
feelings of alienation. . .
. . .make us think about the dehumanization of the species. . .
. . .or just point out the joys of doing our own thing?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.