The Perception of Change

I found The Metamorphosis to be very Kafkaesque, which makes sense I suppose. Although I don’t think stories always need a definitive meaning, it makes it easier for me to write about The Metamorphosis if I figure out some consistent ideas and themes. So here is my main focus for this story: The perception of change, and the difference between mental and physical change. Although I can’t say that these issues were Kafka’s intention points in writing the story, it seems like he makes a lot of interesting statements on these issues throughout.

1. The way we as humans adapt to change. After his drastic transformation, Gregor continues to worry only about what he knows and understands. He gripes about problems he can control, rather than those he can’t deal with or those beyond his power. (such as being an insect) Even after he is fully aware of his buglike nature he still worries primarily about work and money. Maybe i’m reading too much into this, but it seems like humans do this; tend to focus on the trivial and understandable. Is drastic change more acceptable because we have more to compare it to or less?

2. Dissociation of identity. Eventually, Gregor’s sister begins to talk about the bug as being something different from Gregor. His appearance has changed although his mind and narrative seems not to have. ┬áSO, there ends up being a lot here on the MIND VS. PHYSICAL. It once again raises the question of what truly makes a monster; the way they appear, and the fact that they are different, or, the way they think. Gregor’s appearance is a key reason that he loses the support of his family. So what defines identity?Another key factor in this is communication, which seems to create monsters in all our texts. (Well, usually the lack of communication or the warped nature of communication)

3. I think there is a lot more to discuss, but I had this one last weird thought I wanted to share. The story is told to make it seem like Gregor has changed. This might sound crazy, but I found myself wondering in this text: who has really changed? Gregor once asks “was this still my father” and the gentleman lodgers are not surprised to see the monstrous bug as his family. Apart from a described physical change, perhaps this story represents more the change of others, and his obvious disparity is just a sort of ridiculous reference point.

And…. The Yellow Wallpaper.

Not much to say for now, really. I thought it was brilliant. Apparently one of the goals was to make you feel like you are going insane and it surely worked. You think you know what’s going in and whose plot you are following but there is a subtle shift somehow and you aren’t sure anymore. This ties in with the critique on the way mental illness was approached: if you look at it in linear fashion things will warp anyway.

2 thoughts on “The Perception of Change

  1. Sam, you have some good points here, thanks for the thoughts!
    In response to your second point: The father’s initial reaction to Gregor as an insect speaks to how, in some ways, Gregor’s appearance/ability to help the family were all that kept him a part of the family. So, if he can no longer provide for them, then it almost seems as if they have no personal reason to show any love or interest in him. It was interesting though, to see how each member of the family eventually gave up on Gregor as anything other than an irritating “pest”, to the point where Gregor’s own mentality also came to this belief and understanding that that is all he would and has ever been to them.
    This makes me wonder about your point of “a monster being someone who can’t communicate”, and if Gregor had still been able to talk with his family, if anything would really have been different. I think that Gregor may have lived longer, but I don’t see the story being all that different because of his physical appearance still hindering the family’s view of Gregor.
    I’m not sure if that really made much sense, but I’m curious about what you think of that idea.

  2. That’s a really good point: Gregor’s ability to provide for his family makes him valuable. It is, in fact, one of his biggest worries even after he becomes a bug. So that raises a cool question. If, as a bug, Gregor could somehow provide for his family MORE effectively, would they accept him? Would they overlook physicality if it was to their greater benefit? It’s a funny thing, because it would at the same time make their reaction more AND less superficial.

    So it seems like your saying that even with effective communication, the fact that Gregor could no longer provide due to his physical make up would still make him monstrous. Hmm… Yeah, actually, I think I can really agree with that. That’s a really interesting line of thought. Thanks Kailer!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *