1.If Metamorphosis is a story about life within modernist society, what might Gregor Samsa’s life as a beetle mean? 2.Is life as a beetle as anxious, individualistic, urban capitalism different...

1.If Metamorphosis is a story about life within modernist society, what might Gregor Samsa’s life as a beetle mean?

2.Is life as a beetle as anxious, individualistic, urban capitalism different than it might have been in a pre-modern world? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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1. That Gregor Samsa suddenly perceives himself as "a monstrous vermin," is more symbolic than it is real in this Modernist novella of ambiguity and allusion, alienation, and rejection of certainties. Gregor's position of being the sole support of his family has so changed their dynamics that the father no longer is head of the household, the mother is languid and becoming almost consumptive, while the sister's youth and beauty seems to be fading.

As an insect with a cumbersome shell, Gregor becomes physically alienated from his job and his parents and sister who have rejected their proper roles in the family. For, Gregor has become the sole support, causing the father to relinquish his role as head of the household, and his mother and sister seem to languish. At the same time, Gregor's transformation has, in turn, brought him to the same living death. For, as a consequence to his repugnant appearance that also becomes known to outsiders (the boarders), the Samsas eventually reject him, effecting his death. Having been forced to support themselves without Gregor's salary, the father procures a job, the mother sews, and the sister works as a shopgirl by day and studies the violin at night. At first Grete is sympathetic to Gregor and feeds him and looks in on him, but when he ruins her performance for the boarders, Grete decides that Gregor must go.
Once freed of the burden that Gregor has become, the family seems to flourish. They board a train and ride to the country.

Ans it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when at the end of the ride their daughter got up first and stretched her young body.

Grete, the musician (the artist) now can flourish; her color returns and she seems energized. Gregor the salesman is dead, a man who wakes up in a different hotel room all the time, unsure of any continuity in life--unlike the artist.

2. Gregor's life as a salesman is unstable as he travels from town to town; each place he goes is a new trial of his salesmanship. He has no security, no office to call his own. Added to this, the stress of supporting his family effects his destruction. The instability of life in the modern world certainly contributes to Gregor's alienation from humanity and ultimate destruction.

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