In Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis Essay,” some might argue that Gregor was a terrible person and his metamorphosis was not real, but only an illustration of the terrible person he had become. However, it can much more strongly be argued that he was an extremely unselfish person and his actions were largely taken for granted by his family. Kafka was emphasizing the common practice of selfless actions being unappreciated through his story of Gregor and his family.
One way in which Gregor was unselfish was the fact that he was the reason he and his family were living in such a nice apartment. Gregor was the one who had a job and supported his family and he did it with a great sense of pride.
Because he wanted to give his family the best life he could, he hired a cook and a servant and he was hoping to send his sister, Grete, to the conservatorium to further enhance what he believed to be musical talents. He sacrificed his social life for his work; never making friends or going out at night. His only hobby was worrying, sitting alone in his room. In all of the five years he had worked, he had never once been absent. Always ready to go out on his rounds as early as possible, he never took advantage of time for a break. By the time he got back, the other employees were still eating breakfast.
He even tells us that if it had not been for his parent’s debt, he would have quit a long time ago. “If I didn’t to curb my tongue because of my parents, I’d have given notice long time ago. I’d have gone up to the director and told him from the bottom of my heart exactly what I thought” (337-338).
An interesting element in the story is the lack of panic in Gregor when he realizes what he has turned into. It appears that all he is worried about is how to get out of bed and get to work before his parents see him. “I must make sure that Im out of bed before it strikes a quarter past seven.
Anyway, by then someone from work will have come to check on me…” (340) This is not a trait we would see in much of anybody else. Most people would generally freak out and try to figure out how or why when they woke up they had been transformed into a giant insect. However, in Gregor we only see the need that he has to protect his family from what has happened to him and continue to provide for them.
We can also see that Gregor’s attempts in providing for his family were widely unappreciated. This is evident in his family’s reactions to his predicament. Gregor’s mother, who Kafka does not give much insight on, tends to ignore Gregor as if he does not exist even though we see that she is heartbroken by this travesty. His father also, although compassionate, does not want to deal with what has happened. They continue to go about their lives as if nothing is wrong. “During the first two weeks, his parents couldn’t bring themselves to see him.
..” (353) His sister, with whom he had been closest to, brought him food every day. “he never would have guessed what his sister, in the goodness of her heart, actually did. She brought him a wide range of choices, all spread out on an old newspaper” (349). As the story goes on, his parents become interested in what his sister is doing for him and thank her for her efforts in aiding her brother.
His mother even gets to the point in which her maternal instinct takes effect and she wants to see Gregor, who never dares to leave the safety of his room. Even though Grete and his father try and dissuade her, she demands that she be able to see him. “Let me go to Gregor, he’s my unhappy boy! Don’t you understand that I have to go to him?” (354). She seems to feel the loss of her son as if he had died, even though he is still .