Discuss how Kafka evokes feelings of sympathy towards Gregor? ‘The Metamorphosis’ is written by Franz Kafka in 1915, during the time when modernism and existentialism was popular through literature. Kafka uses different devices to induce sympathy towards Gregor’s character by using isolation, his transformation and the different family responses to Gregor’s transformation. Gregor Samsa is the main character of the novel and is the first character the reader learns about. The bizarre beginning of the novel states the transformation that has taken place to Gregor, “… e found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. ” This immediately puzzles the reader and is the trigger of the sympathy from the reader to Gregor. “No matter how hard he threw himself onto his right side, he always rocked onto his back again. ” The effort Gregor has to do to make himself turn over makes the reader sympathetic towards him because he is finding it extremely difficult, as his transformation has changed his ability to move at ease that he before was accustomed to. “… the change in his voice was nothing more than the first sight of a bad cold… This shows that not only has Gregor’s body transformed into a “vermin” but his voice has also altered which illustrates that he is losing his human features and is becoming entirely insect. Sympathy is present from the reader because the hope of something human like present in Gregor is out of the question as his struggle to cope with the unsuspected transformation is complete. Gregor’s role in the family is the provider in the household that he shares with his parents and sister. He is selfless, only thinks for others and not himself.
This is seen in the start of the novel when his transformation has begun. “But that would be extremely embarrassing and suspicious… Gregor had not been sick even once. ” The panic of not showing up for work and the effects on others and the excuses he may have to make are going through his mind when he wakes up. This creates sympathy as the reader learns the Gregor does not care for himself but cares and acts accordingly to others in his life than rather going with what he wants to do. A paragraph in chapter one, “Why didn’t his sister go in to the others… uncertainty that was torturing he others and excused their behaviour. ” This paragraph backs up evidence that Gregor only thought about others. It also suggests to the reader that he is under a lot of pressure as he has to think about his family as well as his boss and work and at this time the transformation that has just happened to him. Isolation is a major device that Kafka uses to evoke sympathy towards Gregor. This theme is introduced at the beginning of the novel. Gregor is in his room, alone with the door locked and his family outside when he wakes up and finds himself transformed into a “vermin”.
This physical isolation from within his home is linked to his general isolation from society where his role is to work. His hard work to supply for the home is a factor of his isolation from his family as there is a lack of communication, “… quiet life his family has been leading… ”. His isolation from society after his transformation makes Gregor unhappy as he is unable to help his family and is only allowed to watch selflessly from a distance. “Gregor spent the days and nights almost entirely without sleep… he would take charge of the family’s affairs again… This creates sympathy as the reader is aware there is nothing Gregor is capable of doing to help his family and that he cannot overcome the change of his body. Gregor’s family’s responses to his surprising transformation are important factors to allowing the reader to sympathise towards Gregor’s character. Gregor’s parents and Gregor seemed to have no relationship as they only saw him as a supplier and not their son, “That boy has nothing on his mind but the business. ” This is said by the mother. It shows that she only cared about the money coming in to the house rather than his well being.
The lack of communication between the parents and Gregor is emphasised when Gregor transforms as they make no attempt to see him or communicate with him, and soon he is forgotten to them as he is not as important as he was before. Grete, Gregor’s sister on the other hand had a relationship with Gregor. She cared for him and this is shown in the beginning of the novel when Gregor does not wake up in time to go to work. “Gregor? Is something the matter with you? ” This demonstrates the caring that Grete has towards Gregor. The brother and sister also have another link that brings them closer, their ove for music. This is seen when Grete is playing the violin and Gregor as the transformed vermin finds interest from the music and goes to Grete. The reader later learns that the caring Grete from the start of the novel finds Gregor a pest towards the end, “… we have to try get rid of it. We’ve done everything humanly possible to take care of it… ” This illustrates that Grete has become fed up with Gregor hanging around the house and pestering the family. It seems that she feels that Gregor is a burden on the family and that the “monstrous vermin” is not Gregor at all.
This evokes sympathy as Gregor has no family links and is now completely alone as no one wants him around anymore. When Gregor learns about his family’s decision to get rid of him, he then takes his last breath and dies alone. The death is sudden but expectant to the reader. “Come and have a look, it’s croaked; it’s lying there, dead as a doornail! ” The cleaning woman of the house is the one who finds Gregor dead in the morning. Mr. and Mrs. Samsa are shocked about the death and hurriedly make everyone leave from the house except them and Grete.
His death may have been a shock for them but no grief is shown from the family towards him. “… now we can thank God! ” This shows that Mr. Samsa was delighted by the death of Gregor and as if he had been waiting for the end of Gregor for a long time. Gregor’s death did not move the family as they just seemed to go on with their lives. They all leave the house to start their lives a fresh. The lack of grief shown towards Gregor tells the reader that Gregor must have been holding the family back from their potential and that they were finally happy that he had left them.
This creates sympathy for Gregor because he is not missed and all the hard work he applied himself for the family was not appreciated by them. He was not seen as a part of the family, just a pay check. In conclusion the two main devices Kaka uses are the transformation of Gregor and the isolation he faced within his home and society are the main roles in evoking sympathy towards him from the reader. Kafka uses these techniques mainly to show that Gregor’s character was a symbol for alienation within the society of that time which therefore creates a considerable amount of sympathy from the reader towards his character.