The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

metamorphosis” As Gregor Samsa woke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into some kind of monstrous vermin.”

With a bewildering blend of everyday and the fantastical words, Kafka thus begins his most famous story, the Metamorphosis. This first sentence — they said, one of the most famous first sentences in modern literature — certainly breaks the ice. A traveling salesman is unexpectedly freed from his deary job by his inexplicable transformation into an insect, most probably a cockroach, which drastically alters his relationship with his family.

I think one of the reason his family loves and pampers him is that he provides the meals on the table for them. After he can’t, after he loses his job for turning into an insect; they torture him, making his and their relationship go further and further away. Love has a huge meaning, crossing out the appearance on the list. But it looks like Gregor’s family does not love him at all, even in his human form.

Gregor’s sister is a violinist, making her a little bit like me. At Gregor’s transformation, she is the only one who feeds him; but like the rest of her family, grows distance. And in the end, it is she who has suggested to get rid of Gregor. Gregor imagines his sisters concern is purely over financial matters says much about the relations between the members of the family.

A question I have in my mind is what resulted Gregor’s transformation? Is everything actually a dream? Very little can be said about the meanings Kafka actually intended. Slowly Gregor himself dies in his sleep in reality, making the story ended with ‘He died’. The story is so abstractly described that I could almost imagine it happening in real life. Thus, almost nothing takes on any symbolic or metaphorical quality there since every object, action, and Kafka’s words can be seen as contributing to the realistic life.

Gregor comes to his realization that he is not actually loved but used by his family. He is alienated from everything: the job, his family, humanity, and his body. Imagine this, he is no longer human, and no longer aware of his own body. Thus, he is no longer able to work to make money. When money is of primary importance, anyone who is incapable of making money, becomes insignificant. He is now under the cared for entirely by others and can no longer pay his way. No wonder, Gregor’s own father actually gives Gregor one of the really worst treatments. In his father’s eyes, a man should be the most productive member in the family.

The writer, Franz Kafka is a German-language writer which means The Metamorphosis is translated. He died quite young at the age of 40, but his stories will always be respected and remembered. His work, the term “Kafkaesque”, is quite famous to describe his style of writing: the surreal situation. Hats off to you, Sir!

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2 thoughts on “The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  1. I have just read Metamorphosis as well and I did came to the very same conclusion about Gregor’s family. It is an indeed very disheartening situation, although it is quite realistic sometimes–you’re no man if you can’t provide your family? (I remember there is a story where a father does suicide because he can’t provide his family anymore due to an accident that results him on being unable to do his previous work)

    And I think it is quite interesting that the ending mirrors the beginning; it starts with Gregor’s transformation and it ends with Grete’s transformation. Some people also take it as–another cycle begin. The cycle of the parent tries to ‘use’ Grete to be the backbone of the family. What do you think about that? I personally found it very interesting, and in a way, I think it suits the story well.

    Oh! Talking about Gregor’s transformation! A lot of people are (still) talking about this as well, Elysa :). Some people say that perhaps it is not in ‘realistic’ transformation, but more like ‘internal’ transformation–although I don’t suppose I agree. I do prefer to think that the transformation does take place, in the story’s universe. It makes the story very surreal–and yet real? I don’t know, the way the family reacts makes it not ‘that weird’…which is weirder, and makes the story more surreal. I love your interpretation here, tbh (although I think there is a meaning behind ‘why Kafka choose Gregor to be insect’. But I think I have ramble too much.)

    Anyway, sorry for the long rambling. I really enjoy reading your review, keep it up! And I also envy you for being introduced in literature in a young age 🙂

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