The Metamorphosis is a symbolic story with several layers of meaning. It can be analyzed from social, religious, and psychological points of view. It can focus on different transformation aspects.
The novella is an exploration of feelings of loneliness and estrangement. Kafka himself suffered his whole life from it. Gregory’s transformation undergoes three stages, starting with denial, then acceptance, and decline. When Gregor discovers that he became an insect, he denies that it will affect his life. Then he realizes that he is an insect, accepts it, and starts acting like an insect. At the last stage of the transformation, he withdraws from the world and stops eating, and dies.
According to Freud’s, three members of Gregory’s family represent three aspects of himself. These aspects are: id, ego, and superego. His sister means his id’s subconscious drives. The father plays the role of the superego disciplining his id. Gregor’s mother is the ego. It strives to establish a balance between two other aspects of identity. The ego cannot resolve the conflict, which leads to Gregor’s self-destruction.
From a social point of view, the story explores the main character’s relationship with his family. Since his conversion, his main goal was to rejoin his family. He wanted to adjust to his new condition without becoming a burden. His family rejected him and Gregor suffered from estrangement. He died being unable to find his place in society. Metaphorically, Kafka emphasizes that Gregor was eager to abandon his identity. He would do it for the sake of society’s approval. This idea appears to have a religious connection to the concept of self-sacrifice.