The Metamorphosis contains three symbols that can help explain Gregor Samsa’s subconscious. These symbols, according to Freudian theory, are represented in Samsa’s sister, father, and mother. Samsa sees his family members as his superego, id, and ego. Samsa’s sister is his id, while his father and mother are his superegos. Freudian theory holds that the id represents the unconscious drive to eat, survive, and desire primal. The superego is responsible with controlling the id. It can also allow for shameful guilt or repression to achieve social acceptance. The ego is responsible for finding a realistic compromise between discretion and self denial, as well as the satisfaction of your own desires.
Samsa is accompanied by the “id”, her sister. She predicts Samsa’s needs and provides food. Samsa gets food from her. Samsa, who is now hungry, rejects what she has prepared. Grete, Samsa’s sister, acts as the “id” by anticipating Samsa’s immediate needs. However, she couldn’t do this alone.” (Kafka (18). Grete takes care of Samsa when his family attempts to hide him. Grete takes care of Samsa as if he were a newborn during his initial stages of transformation. Samsa’s needs as an insect mature and he becomes less hungry. Samsa’s insect-like appearance means that he is less likely to take care of his own health. The walls were covered in dirt; there were tangles and particles of garbage everywhere.” (Kafka 25, 25). Samsa’s transformation has led to a low self-esteem. His superego reinforces this. His father is a good example of this. Samsa’s father is the one who throws apples at him to subdue him following an altercation with Samsa’s mom and Grete. His father had filled up his sideboard fruit bowl with cash, and now he was throwing apple after apples, while he couldn’t aim for the target. (Kafka, 22). The father is determined to get Samsa silenced and makes him feel the worst. He also fits his role by his strong work ethic, decency to authority, and his willingness to accept responsibility. As a banker, the father is unwilling to remove the uniform from his son. Gregor wanted a drag-and-drop, as if he would be able to make the unbearable and unbelievable pain disappear if he resigned.
Samsa is a mother who plays the Ego role of the balance between her husband, and her daughter. Grete tries to move an oversized dresser from her brother’s bedroom. Her mother tries to calm him down by telling him to stop. The mother also tried to calm Samsa’s fury when her father tried to kill him with apples. “…She reached out to his neck and begged him not to hurt Gregor’s feelings. The mother becomes fainted when she sees Samsa as an insect. This is a sign that Samsa’s unconscious self has fallen into a civil war. His desire to fulfill his duty is fighting against his reality. Samsa becomes a madman through anguish, dissatisfaction and it is only then that sanity can return to normal.
Samsa is thus representative of his mind and family. His ego cannot resolve the internal conflict between his id and his superego. This causes him to self-destruct, which is unfortunately the only thing that brings peace. Kafka basically suggests that Samsa should be killed or removed from the scene. This will allow him (and all others involved) to ease their immense burden.
Kafka, Franz. The Transformation. Trans. According to Ian Johnston, ____. Nanaimo: Malaspina University College, 2009. Web. 2 Feb. 2010. https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/stories/kafka-e.htm>.