Basically, I believe that The Metamorphosis is about the fight between your consciousness and your unconscious mind. In Gregor’s view his family already saw him as a cockroach with how they treated him even while he was the only one working and providing for them. The family had no respect for what he gave up each day going to work to keep them all up. He had no life outside of work and home. He had no friends, no girlfriend, no life. There are arguments that your unconscious mind can take over your reality and warp it. This I feel takes place when Gregor wakes up and sees himself as a roach. He had felt like a pest, a nuisance, and a waste of space and life pretty much by that point in his life. He did everything for his family, and the second he gets ill, everyone shuts him out of their life completely except for Grete at first. Gregor seemed to want to alienate himself daily anyway from his family by locking himself in his room when he was home. Then his family turned it around on him and locked him in his room when he got ill. Since Kafka wrote this while he himself was lying on his death bed, completely sleep deprived, and starving from his throat being closed off he started going a little crazy letting his unconscious mind take over with all kinds of wildness like becoming the cockroach. Maybe the father didn’t throw apples at him but words that pelted him, and some of them stuck with him as he laid waiting on death in the room where they locked him up and slowly seemed to forget about him. Maybe with the sleep deprivation and starvation some schizoid behaviors showed up in his writing. Meaning he split from reality and went into his latent level of consciousness. He was experiencing despair, loneliness, isolation, blindness, and not being able to communicate his needs or wants to his family any longer. He quickly lost contact with reality it seems to me.
Or maybe this was all just an awful nightmare Kafka felt he was living while he was lying in bed dying. Maybe this was part of his dream journal turned into a story. This was a manifestation of his fears, paranoias, and anxieties he felt while he lived his life. That he just wasn’t ever going to be enough for his family no matter how hard he spent his life working to pay back his family’s debt. Then when he got sick and his father all of a sudden looked younger than him and could get a job instantaneously it seemed, to take back over the head honcho position in the family again, Gregor might have been thinking that he wasted his whole life catering to a family that couldn’t have cared less of his well being as he did theirs. This could have all been Gregor and/or Kafka searching for meaning in his own life.
Was he man? Was he vermin? Was he being abused and used? Was he just doing what any good son and brother would do? Was his family just being lazy? Was his life worth living? Was he worth living? Were they worth living for? Was death the only way out of this provincial life he was living? Was it possible that Kafka wanted to portray the dehumanization that happens after a horrendous incident? Like how Gregor lost his ability to speak and eat and is horribly disfigured. Maybe he was trying to portray how vital and fragile empathy is.
This story in some ways reminds me of that movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” that went terribly wrong. Gregor skips out of work for the first time in ever and wakes up to being vermin. What in the world? Just as Cameron skips school with Ferris and chooses to break the rules for once in his life and everything that could go wrong, did. Once they started their day off, they couldn’t take it back or go back in time, so they were like screw it lets’s see where it takes us. Gregor lays in bed contemplating what ifs and decides what the heck I’m not going in. This is when his nightmare begins as he believes he has turned into vermin. Kafka’s relationship with his father was just as strained as the relationship with Gregor and his father and the relationship that Cameron had with his father; maybe not in the same ways, but all very tumultuous. Just a thought on something outside of a book that I thought felt somewhat close to what was going on here, but not exactly as you would think of it.
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