Reading The Metamorphosis by Kafka from a psychological point of view

Gregor Samsa’s unconscious can be described through three essential symbols widespread in The Metamorphosis. According to the Freudian theoretical structure, these three symbols are personified in Samsa’s mom, daddy and sister. For Samsa, his family members represent his id, superego and his ego. Samsa’s sibling represents his id, his dad represents his superego and his mom represents his ego. Within a Freudian structure, the id represents the subconscious drive of hunger, survival and primal desire. The superego pertains to disciplining the id, and offers the capability for shame, guilt and repression for the sake of social approval. The ego involves a practical balance in between discretion and self-denial and the satiation of hunger in addition to the awareness of personal fulfillment.

Samsa’s sister, the “id”, fits her role by anticipating Samsa’s immediate needs. She offers Samsa with food, and when Samsa declines the food he’s offered, experiencing a new appetite, Grete, his sibling, reacts by bringing him a range of food from which he can easily pick what he would prefer to eat: “To evaluate his taste, she brought him an entire selection, all expanded on an old newspaper.” (Kafka, 13) Similarly, when Samsa desires area for ease of movement, Grete detects this, and does her best to move furnishings that is much to heavy for her in order to accommodate her sibling: “… And so she got the idea of making the location where Gregor might creep around as big as possible and hence of removing the furniture which obstructed, especially the chest of drawers and the writing desk. But she remained in no position to do this by herself.” (Kafka, 18). When the rest of Samsa’s household attempts their best to obstruct Samsa out of their view, Grete heads out of her way to meet his instant needs. When Samsa is in his baby phase of his improvement, Grete cares for him as though he were a child. However, as Samsa matures as a bug, his instant needs end up being harder to please, and he loses his appetite. The more insect-like Samsa becomes, the less he tends to his own well-being: “. Streaks of dirt ran along the walls; here and there lay tangles of dust and trash.” (Kafka, 25).

The force that enhances Samsa’s low self-confidence connected with his change is his superego. This is represented well by his daddy. It is Samsa’s father who showers him with apples in order to suppress his behaviour after a run-in in between Samsa’s mom and Grete: “Additional running away was worthless, for his daddy had actually chosen to bombard him. From the fruit bowl on the sideboard his father had actually filled his pockets, and now, without for the moment taking precise aim, he was tossing apple after apple.” (Kafka, 22) The daddy presumes the worst of Samsa and intends to beat him into submission and silence. The father likewise suits his role in his adherence to a strong work ethic and deigning to authority. The daddy declines to remove his banker’s uniform except by force, as he is overly dedicated to his servile position as clerk: “Now he was standing up really directly, dressed in a tight-fitting blue uniform with gold buttons, like the ones servants use in a banking business.” (Kafka, 22). The superego is aggressive and challenging, and the stronger it becomes, the weaker Samsa ends up being: “. Gregor wanted to drag himself off, as if he might make the unexpected and amazing discomfort go away if he changed his position” (Kafka, 22).

Samsa’s mother matches her role as the Ego as she stabilizes both her husband and the child. When Grete attempts to push a large cabinet out of her bro’s room, her mother tries to relax her passion by trying to persuade Grete to leave it be: “I believe it would be best if we attempted to keep the space precisely in the condition it was in before, so that, when Gregor returns to us, he discovers everything unchanged and can forget the intervening time even more quickly.” (Kafka, 19). Also, when the dad attempts to kill Samsa with apples, the mom tries to soothe his fury by running to him and relaxing him down: “… As her hands reached around his father’s neck, and she pled him to spare Gregor’s life.” (Kafka, 23). Unfortunately for Samsa’s ego, the mother is typically silenced for the sake of the 2 other layers of unconsciousness. Seeing Samsa in his insect state throws the mom into a passing out spell. This recommends that Samsa’s unconscious self is in a state of civil war, where his desire is battling with his responsibility to the point that his sense of truth and balance is breached. Samsa is efficiently made outrageous by distress and frustration, and just when he is gotten rid of from the image does peace of mind restore itself: “Leaning back conveniently in their seats, they talked to each other about future prospects, and they discovered that on closer observation these were not bad” (Kafka, 34).

Samsa’s household is therefore representative of his mindset. His id and superego are caught up in an internal dispute that his ego can not resolve. This results in his ultimate self-destruction, which, regretfully, is the only thing which restores peace. What Kafka is effectively suggesting here is that the elimination of Samsa, or his suicide, is the only way to relieve him (and everyone else included) of his tremendous burden.

Kafka, Franz. The Transformation. Trans. Ian Johnston. Nanaimo: Malaspina University-College, 2009. Web. 2 Feb. 2010. https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/stories/kafka-e.htm>.