Search for Identity in Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”

Subject: Literature
Pages: 2
Words: 296
Reading time:
< 1 min

Searching for identity is never easy, especially when an individual has to come to terms with drastic and irreversible changes that destroy his or her self-image and the perception of life. The main character of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” Gregor Samsa, faces the dissolution of everything that he knew about life and himself after transforming into a huge disgusting insect for no clear reason. After a long tiring day and hours of “uneasy dreams,” Samsa finds out that he does not look like a human anymore. It marks the beginning of a new stage in life, and Gregor enters it as a confused creature.

Many factors make Gregor’s search problematic and prevent him from accepting the fate of living the rest of his days as an insect. The main challenge is the fact that everything that constituted his identity and presented motivations and the reasons for pride has gone without a trace. Prior to the metamorphosis, Gregor regarded himself as the family’s key breadwinner and an ambitious commercial traveler. As per his father’s words, he “thinks about nothing but his work.” The sudden mutation instantly makes all these achievements and ambitions non-existent, requiring the character to develop a new identity despite his emotional shock.

chance to get his human body back, Gregor turns out to be incapable of moving properly and fulfilling all physical activities that used to constitute his routine. Physical barriers and the inability to leave the house without accidents and injuries destroy Gregor’s aspirations to continue playing his key role in life, such as providing his family with financial assistance. In these circumstances, the character’s quest for identity and a new meaning in life becomes almost impossible, which leads to his exacerbating social isolation.