As a human, there is a constant importance placed on the image that one portrays. It is seen in Kafka’s Metamorphosis that alteration of physical appearance reveals society’s misconception of what it means to live a fulfilling life. One can see that human nature is defined by the amount and quality of one’s social interaction, how society creates its own idea of human necessities to feel satisfaction at their fulfillment, and how one is unable to be human in a non human form.
Human nature is defined by the amount and quality of one’s social interaction. In Metamorphosis, Gregor tries his best to regain normal mobility after his spontaneous transformation into a bug. His family pleads for him to unlock the door so Gregor tries to give a long explanation to ease his family’s worries while attempting reason with the office clerk about suspected negative gossip. At the end of his long speech the chief clerk says, “‘Did you even understand a single word?’ the chief clerk was asking his parents; ‘he isn’t trying to make a fool of us, is he?’ ‘God forbid,’ called his mother, who was weeping by this time, ‘he may be seriously ill, and we’re torturing him’” (19). This passage takes place before anyone has seen that Gregor is not longer in human form. His mother’s concerned tone is due to the lack of communication they are experiencing. Although, when Gregor finally pries the door open and reveals himself to his family, his mother goes into shock and faints while his father begins to shoo Gregor back into his room. “No plea of Gregor’s helped; in fact, no plea was understood; no matter how humbly he turned his head, his father only stamped his feet harder” (23). Looking at these two scenes side by side allows the reader to make a crucial comparison of the dramatic shift in concern for Gregor’s well-being just from a change in appearance. He has now lost the ability to communicate or socialize with anyone due to the fact that not even his own family will try to reason with this tragedy. When one loses this vital part of life, they experience an equal loss of respect. Communication allows for a connection between people which creates, even in the smallest way, a bond among them. When that bond is broken, the extent of one’s humanity is greatly decreased. The needs of that person cannot be fulfilled now that they cannot vocally express them. Socialization is also required as a part of human nature. The effects of isolation reduce Gregor’s ability to maintain and participate in common interactions. His transformation therefore is not only physical but also mental. His emotions become conflicted during this change and as the story continues it becomes apparent that there is not enough room for both species in his mind.
Society creates its own idea of human necessities to feel satisfaction at their fulfillment. Throughout Gregors transformation, his sister Grete seems to have taken on the responsibility of caring for him. She provides him with foods and eventually, while discussion it with her mother, comes to the conclusion that Gregor would be better off with the removal of all his furniture. “She had also made the real observation that Gregor needed a lot of space to crawl in, while on the other hand he didn’t use the furniture in the least, from all one could see” (34) Initially Gregor seems enthusiastic about this decision allowing for more room to scurry about on the walls and fulfill this new enjoyment. This wrongful desire terrifies Gregor of how he is slowly forgetting his human past. Gregor’s terror of losing his possessions reiterates the idealistic views of human society. Although Gregor had no need for a desk he could never use or a wardrobe that held clothes he would never wear, he believes that these possessions are overall more important that his own personal well-being as an insect. Looking at the basic needs of human beings – food, clothing, water and shelter- insects also