The Stages of Grief in The Metamorphosis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 608 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Words: 608|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024


Franz Kafka's novella, The Metamorphosis, published in 1915, is a well-known work that explores dramatic actions and transformations, evoking both emotion and expression. It delves into the themes of grief and the stages that accompany it, such as anger, denial, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. These stages play a central role in the characters' destinies and can be easily applied to modern society. Through the story's realism and sadness, Kafka highlights the sacrifices made by the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, as he works tirelessly to support his family, only to be unloved and taken for granted. The novella follows Gregor's various transformations, including his metamorphosis into a bug, and the resulting impact on his family and his own sense of self. Despite the negative aspects of Gregor's life, Kafka also explores the positive side, demonstrating how his metamorphosis leads to his family's financial independence. Ultimately, the story depicts Gregor's journey through the stages of grief, as he is denied, experiences anger and bargaining, suffers from depression, and ultimately reaches acceptance. This analysis of grief stages in The Metamorphosis aligns with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's model of five-stage grief, which explores how individuals cope with tragedy and despair.

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Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's model of five-stage grief, originally introduced to explain how people cope with serious illnesses or despair, mirrors the journey of the protagonist in The Metamorphosis. These stages include denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance, and depression. Throughout the novella, Kafka effectively exemplifies Gregor's emotions and experiences, corresponding to these stages.

  1. Denial is evident in Gregor's attempt to continue working despite his transformation into a bug. He denies the limitations of his new form and struggles to adapt to the challenges it presents in both his work and personal life.
  2. Anger and bargaining are also prominent, as Gregor becomes resentful towards his family's disregard for him and their lack of love and respect. He is angered by his inability to live a normal life and feels envious of the world around him. These feelings hinder his personal harmony and inner balance.
  3. Depression permeates Gregor's life as he grapples with his new existence as an insect. He faces constant inconveniences, such as difficulties in movement and the inability to eat or sleep as he once did. His disability to play music with his sister, a once cherished activity, further deepens his sorrow and depression. Throughout the novella, Gregor is rejected and ignored by his family and society, treated as a mere financial burden rather than a loved one. This constant abandonment aligns with Kubler-Ross's model and highlights Gregor's emotional death.
  4. Acceptance is a stage that Gregor never truly reaches. Despite his realization that he is unvalued and unloved by his family, he never fully accepts this reality. The novella concludes with Gregor's complete isolation and abandonment, as even his dear sister states that they must rid themselves of him. This final rejection further emphasizes the lack of acceptance Gregor experiences in his life.

The Metamorphosis, a masterpiece of modern literature, showcases Kafka's ability to create a surreal yet relatable story that reflects the realities of life. Through Gregor's journey and the stages of grief he experiences, the novella explores themes of ignorance, misunderstanding, and emotional instability leading to death. The five-stage grief model provides a framework for understanding Gregor's suffering and gradual emotional demise. The novella serves as a powerful reflection on the human condition and the impact of societal pressures on individuals. Kafka's use of similes and comparisons, such as Gregor being compared to dust, adds depth to the story's themes of alienation and disrespect. Ultimately, The Metamorphosis sheds light on the complexities of grief and the profound effects it can have on an individual's life.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Stages of Grief in The Metamorphosis. (2024, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“The Stages of Grief in The Metamorphosis.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2024,
The Stages of Grief in The Metamorphosis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
The Stages of Grief in The Metamorphosis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 12 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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