The Metamorphosis: Why Is Gregor A Bug? Isolation And The Hikikomori Link

Comparing Gregor Samsa’s Transformation to Hikikomori Phenomenon: Exploring Isolation and Loss of Humanity

Benjamin Gershman HUM 105 Mrs. King February 15, 2019, Rough Draft 1 GregorSamsoa has to deal with isolation and losing humanity, but how would he view a person who, out of free will, chooses to become isolated from the physical outside world and stays in their house. A rising problem is adolescents isolate themselves from society in their homes for an extended period of time. These people are called hikikomori. This word comes from Japanese, haiku meaning pulling in and Komori meaning retiring. So, hikikomori literally means pulling away and being confined. The rise of this phenomenon was brought up by SaitoTamaki when he published a book about hikikomori. He published a book called ShakaitekiHikikomori: OwaranaiShishunki. This put a spotlight on what was secretly sneaking up in Japan.

More and more people every year choose not to participate in society for at least six months. Now, Gregor, just one day, transforms into a hideous bug, and he quickly loses his humanity and slowly loses his strength to fight for his values. Is this similar to being hikikomori as a person just one day, or gradually, says to themselves, “What is the point of education?” or “Why should I care what others think of me.” Do people start questioning why they need social interaction if all it does is cause headaches and frustration when they can avoid it all and stay at home? They have their parents providing all their means of survival, food, and shelter. Can Gregor relate to some feelings that hikikomori individuals face? To answer these, I will look into Gregor Samosa’s character in how he thinks, what his intentions are, and how others treat or view him. I will also define and describe the situation of hikikomori in more detail, for instance, how they came to be, whether they have a mental illness, whether they are good or bad individuals, and how people view them. Some background of Gregor Samosa, “One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous vermin” (Kafka 1). He becomes a bug and thinks the transformation is normal since he must be groggy from exhaustion and anxiety for working in a job he does not like, which leads to a sickness that is temporary. He is a dedicated man who works hard since “During his five years’ service, Gregor hadn’t been sick even once” (Kafka 4). His mother also vouches for being a hard worker as “The young man has nothing in his head except business” (Kafka 9).

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Why Gregor Transforms into a Bug: Exploring the Psychological and Familial Factors

Despite being in the job for five years, he puts up with all the concerns and bad conditions that come with the job just to provide financial stability for the family. His sole purpose in the family is to bring home the money. He is so freighted of his family seeing him in the state that he is because he oversleeps through his alarm and, “If they were startled, then Gregor had no more responsibility and could be calm. But if they accepted everything quietly, then he would have no reason to get excited and, if he got a move on, could really be at the station around eight o’clock” (Kafka 11). Gregor strives to do everything he can to not cause headaches that he thinks he can still catch a train and be at work on time, even though he transformed into a bug. He has a strong sense of being dependable and can not bear the fact that he will no longer be the provider of the house. When his family, the Chief, the doctor, and the manager saw the secret that was keeping him from working and transforming into a bug, they realized that he could not go to work. No work meant no money, and the family was already in a pickle for money. “In this overworked and exhausted family, who had time to worry any longer about Gregor than was absolutely necessary? The household was constantly getting smaller (Kafka 35). Gregor was becoming more of a problem than a family member, as his father even attacked. “Gregor was a member of the family, something one should not treat as an enemy, and that it was, on the contrary, a requirement of family duty to suppress one’s aversion and to endure—nothing else, just endure” (Kafka 34). His family locked him up in his room, imprisoning him and dehumanizing him.

Gregor cannot communicate through language or action. The family can not understand Gregor. At the start, his sister cared for him, feeding him and cleaning up his room. When she got a job, she cared less for him. “The task of cleaning his room, which she now always carried out in the evening, could not be done any more quickly. Streaks of dirt ran along the walls; here and there lay tangles of dust and garbage” (Kafka 37). His room became a storage room, not showing any respect for Gregor, just a bug. The family does not seem to think that Gregor is still in the bug body, but he is. Gregor was shunned by his family, as they would lock the door of his room so he wouldn’t roam out to the rest of the public. He was also neglected and deprived of love as when he died, “Gregor’s body was completely flat and dry” (Kafka 46). But at one point, Gregor enjoyed being a bug, “He was especially fond of hanging from the ceiling” (Kafka 26). However, most of the time spent in his room was filled with darkness in him, as he could not help his family. He was freed from the grip of an abusive boss, but in exchange for the freedom, he is now a dependent. He is dependent on his family to feed him, clean his room, and provide protection. He has now become a child and has no adult responsibilities or familial. A consequence of returning to a child figure caused him to lock himself and be separated from his family. Gregor locks himself from all necessities of being human: no human contact, no possessions, no communication or language.

Understanding Hikikomori: A Closer Look at Social Isolation and Its Parallels to Gregor’s Experience

All he could do was rot and die, as he eventually starved himself to death. Using the situation Gregor had to face and how loyal he was to his family and work until he changed to an insect, he maintained his morals. I would now describe the situation of hikikomori and then how Gregor would perceive it and if he suffered from it, too. Hikikomori describes extreme social isolation lasting for a long time, at least six months. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and International Classification of Diseases, hikikomori is not a mental disorder itself but stems from other mental conditions like schizophrenia, depression, autism, and stress disorders. Saito Tamaki describes it as a phenomenon. People who can be affected are both genders, but it is more common in men. Their age ranges from twenties through thirties, and their social classes are usually middle class. A common comparison of hikikomori is to people who are futoko, school refusals, and NEET. NEET is an acronym meaning Not in Education, Employment, or Training. Although SaitoTamaki shed light on the phenomenon, there has not been enough research on the occurrence or treatment of hikikomori. Not to mention that the parents of hikikomori tend to hide them from their friends, family, relatives, and neighbors, the same as the Samsa family did to Gregor. Hikikomori is similar to the term otaku.


  1. Kafka, Franz. “The Metamorphosis.”
  2. Neumark, David. “The Metamorphosis.” In “Kafka: The Metamorphosis, Translation, and Other Writings.” Norton Critical Edition.
  3. Corngold, Stanley. “Introduction” in “The Metamorphosis: Translation, Backgrounds, and Contexts, Criticism.” Norton Critical Edition.
  4. Redick, Chris. “Introduction” in “The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales.”
  5. Lachmann, Renate. “Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ as Death and Resurrection Fantasy.” “The German Quarterly,” Vol. 49, No. 3 (1976), pp. 355-370.

Literary Devices In Persepolis: Depicting Oppression And Extremism

Exploring the Graphic Depiction of Oppression: Extremist Social Groups and the Guardians of the Revolution in The Complete Persepolis

Literature is considered as a voice for the oppressed. This is proved in Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel The Complete Persepolis, where she portrays the oppression by the fundamentalists of the secularists and nationalists in Iran during the Islamic revolution, which took place in 1980. Her work acts as a voice for those who are oppressed. The novel is a bildungsroman, which allows the novel to experience the author’s emotions and development throughout the novel, experienced during the political crisis the Iranians faced in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution. The essence of the novel is in the graphical illustrations and visual images, which allow the readers to see the attributes of the characters in the novel. This written task focuses on the extremist social groups and the Guardians of the Revolution and their representation throughout the novel. The analysis will be structured based on literary and graphical devices seen in the novel as well as the reasonings as to why the author has such opinions on the social groups.

Unveiling Literary Techniques in Persepolis: Depicting Extremism and Oppression through Graphic Storytelling

At first glance, the illustration of the fundamentalists showcases the ideas of political and religious extremism by physical abuse. The message that the author imparts to the readers is further backed up by the graphical and stylistic devices present in the novel. The graphic novel begins with the historical development of Iran before the Iranian revolution and aims to capture the audience from the first page through graphic weighting, which emphasizes the black and whiteness of society. The teacher is in a higher position compared to the children, indicating that the representative of the Islamic revolution is going to dictate the citizen’s lives by enforcing rules on clothing as the teacher says, “Wear this!”.

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