Kafka's The Metamorphosis is full of power structures that dictate the actions of each character. Each character finds him or herself in a role of accountability and responsibility that dictates how he or she acts, particularly towards other characters. Gregor, for instance, is accountable to his boss and has a certain amount of responsibilities that arise from his duties. His boss is accountable to a larger abstract conglomerate of higher-ups who represent the larger of the company that he and Gregor work for. In this manner his responsibilities create for him a role he must maintain in order to keep Gregor in check. These are two examples of many power dynamics between characters. These two dynamics however are good examples of the work-place power structure. In The Metamorphosis this structure includes employers, employees, debtors, and familial relations dependant upon the structure's income. Within this structure one finds it difficult to maintain a sense of agency when so much of each character's action is dependant upon his or her ability to maintain status in the power structure which supports his or her life. In studying madness, a common thread found in determining madness is one's inability to pursue one's own agency. This is not simply to say that madness is found when external forces dictate what one is able to do in life. What this really means is that one has agencysomething that one does or plans to do and is clearly in his or her best interestbut acts against it because of some sort of irritating force. In The Metamorphosis it is clear that the financial power structure has such a gripping hold on the characters that it is this structure which brings the characters to act against their own best interests.The most obvious instance of submission comes from Gregor. He is placed on the lowest rung of the power structure because of who he is accountable to and responsible for. He is under the power of his family because he works for their income. He is under the power of his boss because his boss is the source of the Samsa income.
key words- Samsa, Brian Danoff, Hannah Arendt,
[...] The narrator describes Gregor's thoughts: “Gregor tried to imagine whether something like what had happened to him today could one day happen even to the manager.” (Kafka This demonstrates further how at one point, even in the condition of wage slavery, Gregor had his own free individual thoughts. These, however, are all thoughts he had before he became a vermin. It is not until he becomes unable to fulfill his duties to his family that he becomes accountable to them instead of responsible for them. [...]
[...] (Arendt 438) The relevance that this loss of individuality has to madness within power structures is that the loss of individuality is a loss of agency. Arendt often points to concentration camp prisoners who march willfully into gas chambers—at least to the point where they use their own legs to reach the chamber as opposed to being physically lifted off the ground and placed, for example. (Arendt 438) Gregor's situation cannot be compared entirely to that of prisoners because while they both comply with a higher power that they would prefer to not comply with, Gregor complies based upon agency—his decision to help his family. [...]
[...] For the collapse of his father's business and the resulting debt had obliged Gregor to undertake the support of the family. He did so capably, gradually also working off the debt (his employer was also his father's creditor). But at what a personal cost! No job could have been more demanding, more dehumanizing. And while his father became a lay about, lounging around the flat all day long in his dressing gown, unable to rise in greeting when Gregor returned from a wearying day, Gregor had effectively, unthinkingly supplanted the old man and himself taken over the role of paterfamilias. [...]
[...] The narrator of Metamorphosis” declares outright that Gregor a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone.” (Kafka As further testament to Gregor's lack of agency within the company, he allows others to determine his state of wellness. He has no control over determining whether or not he is well or even sane. This is the point in which one will realize that the work-place power structure has made Gregor mad. He ponders in his room how others will react to his disposition and decides to use these reactions as a basis for whether or not he is able to go to work—that is whether he is able to, not willing, but able to. [...]
[...] Gregor's situation shows how wage-slavery, routine, and power can direct one to act against one's own best interest. Gregor is a slave to routine which aids the loss of his individuality. He at one point had been in the army where undoubtedly he was subjected to strict conformity. On his current job, however, he is subject to adverse habits of conformity. He wakes up too early to stay on time with the train schedule, as he says, “This getting up so early makes anyone a complete idiot. [...]
using our reader.