Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find that he had changed into some sort of insect. Strange as this was, it was even stranger that he reacted to his metamorphosis with no shock or surprise. His family reacted strongly enough to his new form, but he didn’t seem to care about it. He recognized and felt sorry for the stress that it caused his family, but being an insect never bothered him. Given a quick look by an uninterested reader, the story might be passed off as poorly written science fiction, but under the scrutiny of even a mildly interested individual, a deep metaphor is evident. Gregor’s metamorphosis is a metaphor for his realization that he is a homosexual and the reaction of his family and society to his revelation.

When Gregor first awakes, only he knows of his change. Obviously, the first person to know Gregor’s sexual orientation is Gregor himself. Gregor’s room symbolizes his mind, knowledge, and private life, away from the prying eyes of his family and the public. The picture of a lady on the wall has the most significance of anything in the room. It represents Gregor’s view on who he wants to be, an effeminate, unique individual. Conversely, the picture in the living room, the family’s portion of the house, in which Gregor wears his military uniform represents his family’s view on who they want him to be, a strong, masculine typical man. When one thinks of women in fur stoles, it is not common that they are associated with innumerable uniform ranks, but the immediate image of a military man is a completely homogeneous regiment.

Gregor’s secret quickly creates a confrontation between himself and his family and employer. They demanded that he open the door and explain himself: “I am speaking here in the name of your parents and of your chief, and I beg you quite seriously to give me an immediate and precise explanation.”. His Father, Mother, and employer only seemed concerned with how Gregor was affecting them and want him to reveal himself to them further. Once Gregor reaches the door, instead of encouraging him they simply said, “Just listen to that … he’s turning the key”. They didn’t want to know what was wrong with Gregor or support him they just wanted something from him or thought that he was being irresponsible.

Gregor’s predicament with his sexuality becomes evident by the concern of his family and employer. The secret affects his work and his home life, which is represented by his family and employer standing at the door calling to him. Soon everyone knows that something is wrong with Gregor and he can’t keep dismissing the issue. Gregor must open the door and reveal himself to his family and employer. His father reacted, as most fathers would, by becoming enraged and wanting to change the truth with force and violence: “His father knotted his fist with a fierce expression on his face as if he meant to knock Gregor back into his room…”(851). Gregor’s employer reacts by running away as quickly as he can: “ Once in the hall he stretched his right arm before him towards the staircase, as if some supernatural power were waiting there to deliver him.”(852). This flight represents how Gregor’s career and work opportunities are gone once that his sexuality is known. When Gregor attempts to overtake the chief clerk to regain his job, his father intercepts him and forces him back into room, despite Gregor’s unintelligible pleas. Gregor’s father doesn’t have the ability to understand his son. He cannot relate to his son’s condition and he forces him back into his room, back into secrecy with his sexuality.

Many of Gregor’s new qualities and actions after he initially emerged from the room may also be interpreted as allusions to homosexuality. As Gregor spends more time as an insect he begins to heal at an accelerated rate: “Am I less sensitive now?” (857). This newfound self-curative power shows that since Gregor’s secret is now in the open, he is not so prone to the verbal barbs and emotional wounds that his family can bestow upon him. His choice of food also has significance. As an insect, Gregor prefers things that his family wouldn’t consider eating: “They were old, half-decayed vegetables, bones from last night’s supper covered with a white sauce that had thickened, … a piece of cheese that Gregor would have called inedible two days ago”(857). This selection of food shows how Gregor’s tastes and ideas of what is correct and proper have changed in respect to his family. He now shows an independence from the traditional ways of thought and a preference for his new way of life. Gregor yearns to be free and props a chair next to the window so that he may watch the outside world, but he is now so far removed from that world that he can’t even see what goes on out there. Gregor’s sexuality has made him such an alien in society that he can’t even understand it anymore.

The sole member of his family that retains any contact with Gregor is his sister. Gregor and his sister were close even before the metamorphosis: “With his sister alone had he remained intimate…”(859). Gregor cared for his sister very much and she was the only member of the family that truly only cared about his happiness or wellbeing. His mother mentioned how he was feeling, but even from the beginning her intentions appeared to be more concerned for her financial support than Gregor’s happiness. His sister was the only member of the family that brought him food or ventured into his room after his metamorphosis. She even took the care to notice what foods Gregor particularly liked and brought more of the same for him. Gregor’s relationship with his sister is analogous to the “typical” American notion of what happens when a member of a family comes out as homosexual. The majority of the family, with the exception of one or a few members, ostracizes the member who comes out. After some time has passed since the transformation, Gregor’s mother wishes to see him, but she seems to do so only with the hope that Gregor will eventually be cured and be back with them. Again, this mentality fits with the “typical” American notion, the parent still hopes that the child will be cured of their homosexuality and life will return to normal and be just as it was prior to the announcement.

We once again see the significance of the picture when Gregor’s mother and sister begin moving things from his room to accommodate his new shape. Gregor becomes enraged, as he does not want to completely give up his old life and is torn between his new desires and the good memories of his life. The one item in his room that Gregor decides to keep is his picture of a woman in a fur coat. His mother and sister are trying to make him more comfortable, by distancing him from the family, but he wants acceptance from the family, not isolation. Gregor chooses to make a stand on that which represents his effeminacy. He displays his sexuality and his mother witnesses it, much to her shock and dismay. Gregor’s father returns to find his mother passed out and becomes enraged at Gregor. Gregor marvels at how different his father seems now than before the metamorphosis: “And yet, and yet, could that be his father?”(866). Gregor’s father becomes enraged and violent and begins hurling apples, a biblical symbol of sexual knowledge, at him. The apple wounds Gregor deeply and doesn’t heal, proving that he isn’t immune to his father’s abuse as he once was. Gregor’s father doesn’t even treat him as a human anymore, much less a son, his mother and sister must plead for Gregor’s life. Bereft at the possibility of losing his connection to the family, Gregor reveals himself to the family and they are so horrified that he is met with horror, anger, and violence. Gregor’s ties with his mother and father are severed virtually clean now.

The family then turns to religion for the solution to their problems. The three lodgers coming into the house symbolizes the family turning to the Catholic Church. The three men with their long beards, identical appearance, and quickness to concur with each other’s statements represent the Holy Trinity and the Church. They come into the Samsas’ house and order them around and act very judgmental about many things. Gregor once again shows himself, this time to support his sister’s violin playing, which is boring the lodgers. This comment describes religion’s philistine-like stance on art and liberal thinking. The men, who at first regard him with curiosity, spot him, and then they become enraged. The men’s curiosity symbolizes the homoerotic subtleties of the Catholic Church. The men then leave without paying and threaten the Samsas’. This represents the church making pariahs out of the Gregor’s family for having a homosexual son.

After a valiant struggle to be both true to himself and maintain his connections with his family, Gregor dies from the stones that were wrongly cast at him for his sin. The imagery of his room, the picture, and the three men, compounded with the evidence of his family’s reactions all suggest quite strongly that the Metamorphosis of Gregor Samsa into a giant insect is a parallel of Gregor coming out as a homosexual. Gregor’s homosexuality was not accepted by the church, society, or his own kindred and he paid the ultimate price for never abandoning his family.

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