Essay, Research Paper
The Stress on Money in The Metamorphosis
In The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the stress of, or the importance of money seems to be one of the major themes. Kafka shows how the person who makes the money is the person who gets the respect. If you aren t contributing to the income of the family, what good are you?
The novella starts off with Gregor being transformed into a bug. As he is lying on his bed, he thinks about his job: how he hasn t missed a day since he started to work there; he only has this job because his parents are in debt; and if he didn t get up The boss would be sure to come with the health-insurance doctor, blame his parents for their lazy son, and cut off any excuses by quoting the health-insurance doctor (5). Gregor fears losing his job because his parents are in debt, and even though he hates his job, it is the sense of being the leading bread maker for the family, which demands some respect. Gregor supports his family by having this job, so the family gives Gregor respect in return. However, once the family learns that Gregor has turned into a bug, they stop treating him with respect, and instead, imprison him in his room. What use do they have for him now; he no longer makes any money. His parents refuse to look at him or even to try to communicate with him. Instead of giving Gregor the respect he deserves out of love for their son, his parents give him respect because he gives them money. Now that he doesn t earn money, they lose all respect.
Although in the beginning Gregor receives respect, the daughter, Grete, receives none. Grete doesn t make any money, so the parents attention is focused on Gregor. However, when Gregor loses his job and no longer makes any money, the attention is focused on Grete. Grete starts off as the innocent girl and does what she is told, but after Gregor s change, when she starts to take some responsibility, then she, in her own way, demands respect. This is seen when her and her mother are deciding whether or not to take out the furniture in Gregor s room. Of course it was not only child defiance and the self-confidence she had recently acquired so unexpectedly, and at such a cost that led her to make this demand (25). Now that Gregor has stopped making money, someone else has to, and although Grete doesn t have a job, she does the work that enables her parents to bring in the money, so in return, she is looked upon, not as a child, but as a working part of the family. With this, she then gains the respect that Gregor once had. The family never really paid much attention to Grete, but after Gregor s death, the parents started to pay more attention to her Mr. and Mrs. Samsa, as they watched their daughter getting livelier and livelier, that lately, in spite of all the troubles which had turned her cheeks pale, she had blossomed into a good-looking, shapely girl (42). The parents saw that Gregor was dead, Grete was the new prospect for making money, and in return, give her more respect.
In a time when the family is short on money, the Samsa family goes and rents a room out to three roomers. In return for their room, they pay rent. As an example of how the person with the money gets the respect: every morning when the roomers get up, their breakfast is on the table waiting for them. What ever the roomers want, they get. When
the roomers hear Grete playing her violin, they asked if she would play for them. Mr. Samsa didn t even ask Grete, he told the roomers Oh, certainly, called Gregor s father, as if he were the violinist (35). This shows how much the family was willing to do for the roomers, just because they were giving money.
Throughout The Metamorphosis, the role respect is shifted several times, based on who brings in the money. Franz used this to show how important money is in our society. The respect was with Gregor first, and then with Grete, and then with the roomers, always shifting based on economic conditions. This is almost directly related to what happens in real life.