Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis
Gregor Samsa was dying from a contagious and incurable disease, which, in the past, characterized Cancer or AIDS. A travelling salesman, he had never been ill in his 15 years of work. Possibly in his mid 30s or early 40s, Gregor, lost his mind, his strength and rationality, without warning to anyone. Although he was in the pink of health the night before, he woke feeling dizzy, unable to control movement of his arms, couldn’t stand on his own feet, and was vomiting. It was the first time Gregor had been ill, but the chief clerk, who was sent to inspect him, ran away after seeing him, a sign that Gregor may have exhibited lesions and abnormal mutilations all over his body (a symptom for AIDS), causing the clerk to panic due to fears of being infected. The suggestion that Gregor had a contagious disease was that the food brought to him by his sister was wrapped in paper, and all containers and leftovers were immediately thrown away in the touch.
Although he was still able to recognize what other people say, he lost his ability to effectively communicate, as his parents and sister could only hear screeches from him. In addition, while he did not have any intention to inconvenience anyone, his family sees him as a “monster” or “animal”, apparently breaking everything in front of him, making a mess inside his room, climbing walls, and causing injuries to people taking care of him. This shows that his body was not properly interacting with his brain. He must have damaged a certain area in his brain. This may not be Cancer or AIDS, as the two diseases rarely have insanity as a symptom. Gregor, instead, may have had schizophrenia, as he was having illusions, and his body was not doing what his mind is telling it to do.
Gregor’s health was deteriorating across time, he was thinning and his appetite was gradually worsening, a symptom of most terminal diseases. This evidences that his bodily system was not properly working anymore – a normal system would give a person appetite to eat, and the body would process food digested. Gregor, however, barely eat, and he died very thin.
Gregor also showed erratic behavior. There were times that he would just lie in bed, like an invalid and vegetable, plainly listening to what other people are saying. At times, he would be monster-like, scaring and hurting people watching over him. The occasional lapses exhibited by Gregor hint that he may have a disease in his brain, possibly brain cancer.
His sister, Grate, and his parents’ behavior support that Gregor was sick of an incurable disease at that time. Gregor was only fed with food and was locked in his room. No instances where his caregiver, Grete gave her any medicines or pills were mentioned. Gregor was also locked up in their house, instead of hospital, where doctors would have tried to cure him.
Not being a doctor, it is hard to diagnose Gregor, given that I have not personally seen him or interacted with him. However, basing from Franz Kakfa’s account, the metamorphosis of Gregor showed that he was sick of a terminal, and incurable disease.