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The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

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Student Question

In The Metamorphosis, what are Gregor's hopes for the future and are they flawed?

Quick answer:

Gregor's hopes are encapsulated in his hatred of his job; however, he does not express any desire to do anything else with his time.

Expert Answers

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As Gregor wakes up at the beginning of the story, it is clear that his hopes are encapsulated in his hatred of his job as a travelling salesman. He bemoans having to get up early and travel everywhere all the time, and the inability to form lasting, meaningful relationships. He feels he has to work so much harder than others. What is worse is that he has to stick at this job in order to support his family as he feels a great responsibility towards them. However, note what he says about his future hopes and what he wants to do:

Well, I haven't abandoned all hope; once I've saved enough to pay off my parents' debt to him--that should take another five or six years--I'll go through with it no matter what. I'll make a big, clean break!

Gregor's big hope, and in many ways his only hope as expressed in the story, is to leave his job. There is nothing wrong with this hope, but what is rather concerning is that Gregor's hope is defined by his desire to not do something rather than do something. He hopes only to quit his job, but does not express a desire to do anything else or to do something productive with his time, such as start a new career or write a novel, or engage in a particular hobby or pursuit. This is rather concerning, as he appears to wish to bow out of life and withdraw from it, which is of course precisely what he achieves through his transformation. In some ways, Gregor receives exactly what he wants as he is able to isolate himself from life and eventually leave it completely.

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