One morning Gregor Samsa woke up unable to get up. He was stuck on his back and couldn’t leave the bed. He had, inexplicably, been transformed into a giant cockroach.
So begins the events in “The Metamorphosis,” a novella by Franz Kafka.
While dreams didn’t inspire the novella, the “horrible vermin” is representative of just one of the things a cockroach could represent in a dream.
Because of the point Kafka was trying to make (and for good storytelling), he refused to allow his publisher to depict the vermin as a cockroach on the cover of the first edition. Later editions did.
Was it really a cockroach in your dream?
Kafka put that stipulation on his publisher because he wanted his reader to be wholly sympathetic to Samsa’s plight. Roaches repulse many people. Are you one of them? Are you sure it was a roach in your dream? Could it have been a palo verde beetle or a palmetto bug, for example? Maybe it was a roach-like blur? If it was, or you’re not sure, it says something about what your subconscious was trying to communicate with the dream.
How do you feel about the “roach?”
Does it disgust you? Do you feel sorry for it? Do you feel threatened by it?
Figuring out how you feel about it is essential to understanding what it was doing in the dream.
Did you see a cockroach when you were awake?
You should still ask yourself how you felt about the roach, and what emotion you felt about it. Seeing one in real life adds another element. Cockroaches can carry and spread illnesses. You’d never want to leave food out in a kitchen where roaches are skittering about.
A dream about cockroaches could be a call from your subconscious to get that issue dealt with in some way, either with insecticide or, at minimum, blocking the drain.
Are you afraid of the roach in your dream?
If you’ve recently seen a roach and feel fearful or upset by it, perhaps your subconscious is introducing them into your dreams as a way of getting used to them. By seeing them in your dreams, your subconscious is getting you used to them.
Are you sympathetic toward the roach in your dream?
In Kafka’s novella, Samsa goes from someone who’s helping to support his family to being a liability by his transformation into a roach. He can’t communicate, and he can’t go to work to support them. Then, when they rent out the apartment, Samsa comes out of the room, and the tenants leave because they believe the place isn’t clean. Samsa has gone from being the breadwinner for the family to a liability. The Metamorphosis introduces the reader to the plight of roaches. Is that dynamic present in your dream?
Cockroach spiritual interpretation
Having a dream about cockroaches in your mouth, for example, could indicate a worry about the roaches spreading sickness when you’re not looking. When the coast is clear, roaches are known for walking all around a room, getting into everything.
Pretty much the same holds true if the roaches are in another’s mouth. The health of others or a loved one is threatened.
If the roaches are coming out of the mouth in the dream rather than going in, that could mean that uncleanliness is being expelled, either disease or unclean words, expressions, or thoughts. Reflect on how you feel about what’s coming out in that case. Are you contaminating your environment with your sickness? Or are you being contaminated and made sick?
With reflection and journaling, you can understand what point your subconscious makes with your dream about cockroaches.
What is your experience with a cockroach dream? Share below.
For further reading:
Sunshine adds muscle to disinfection.
William Whitty Hall: the man who changed how America slept.
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