View Full Version : The Metamorphosis by Kafka

05-09-2006, 10:44 PM
When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.
. . . Thus begins The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (not Ovid, though truly a great epic). For anyone who has not read this, but intends to, I recommend you not to read this thread, as I hope to discuss some of the short novel's contents. For anyone who has read it, do you have any thoughts as to the origin, symbolism, theme, and undertones of it?
Reading of some of Kafka's life, I realized that the main characters' manners reflect much of Kafka and his family's lifestyle. He lived a short life of much seclusion, never marrying (but getting engaged twice), and ruled much by his over-bearing father, getting over-worked and supporting his family.
A reader may easily realize the main character's full name, Gregor Samsa, and, wanting to do a bit of research, I found that Samsa seemed connived name by Kafka, originating from the Czech phonetics of sám ('alone') and jsem ('I am'), literally meaning 'I am alone.'
Gregor's sudden metamorphosis caught me at a random surprise, and did not strike me as the science-fiction and fantasy I tend to avoid by bias, and controversy exists of what kind of 'vermin' he turned into - but something, surely, with antennae, segments, small legs, and can crawl on walls and ceilings; most think of a dung beetle, others some kind of louse.
The significance of Gregor's name and his sister's name, Grete, who mostly cares for him, I find very important. Gregor's father, a retired militaryman of some type, influenced much by Kafka's own father, detests Gregor's transformation, and fights every chance he can attempt. His mother, in my opinion, remains mostly indifferent, and, as all eventually do, ignore the obvious problem in the home, 'the elephant in the room,' so to speak.
As something so drastically deviant, Gregor seems much more of a liability on the family as time passes, much like an infant, but because of appearing a different species (though he understands their speech, but cannot speak), Gregor eventually gets entirely rejected, and dies as his 'vermin' self.
The end somewhat perplexed me, feeling that I somehow missed something essential in the plot. I would like to think that the theme revolved much around the consequences of sudden deviance, as if Gregor felt so emotionally distraught from his history, explained only vaguely in the short novel, possibly indicated slightly by his 'unsettling dreams,' in a rather Freudian manner, his cognition, conformed personality to his family, and behavior, like in Ovid's Metamorphoses, reflected to his physical appearance, only exacerbating his already-felt emotions.
From a standpoint, I visualized this story as a very emotional and symbolic tale, saturated with metaphors and similes that I cannot ignore.
Does anyone else have any thoughts? I would love to discuss this further.

05-28-2006, 05:08 PM
hey, maybe this could be interesting for you too:


the a's are at the same place, we have two s and two k's. because of this he wrote alone-i am and not i am alone.

05-30-2006, 10:20 PM
Ive never been able to read The Metamorphosis all the way through - strikes too close to home. However, I've heard Kafka used to share his stories with friends and they would all have a good laugh.

Mark F.
06-07-2006, 12:12 PM
From a standpoint, I visualized this story as a very emotional and symbolic tale, saturated with metaphors and similes that I cannot ignore.
Does anyone else have any thoughts? I would love to discuss this further.

I read the novel a while ago and from what I remember, the way I interpreted Gregor's transformation was as a punishment. He turns into this lowly creature because as a human he acted like he wasn't worth more than that. He bowed down to his supperiors and to his father and never revolted like (maybe) he should have. He dies because even becoming whatever he becomes doesn't make him react, he just accepts his fate.

06-07-2006, 02:07 PM
I've read it couple of years ago, and I think Gregor became a monstrous vermin beacuse Kafka wanted to present society and peoples in those days. What do you do with a monstrous vermin??? You crash it!!! (Sorry, animal lovers :lol: ).
People were thinking only on their work, not at least about them selves. When Gregor woke up and saw his shell, he didn't think: O my God, what I'm gonna do now??? No, his thought was: How I'm gonna go to work??? His family also reacted in same way: He is uselles, we don't need him any more!!! So they stop feeding him and when he died, they just cleaned up his room and move on with their lives. It's not normal, you must admit. But Kafka gives (us) a hope; near to his end, Gregor strated to think about himself, his humanity,etc...Really, it's a masterpiece.

07-18-2006, 09:00 PM
^^ That is very well said! :thumbs_up I agree with it. :nod:

hey, maybe this could be interesting for you too:


the a's are at the same place, we have two s and two k's. because of this he wrote alone-i am and not i am alone.
Buddenbrooks, I don't understand how the last bit about alone-i am and not i am alone works out.

08-04-2006, 12:22 AM
Kafka has long been one of my favorite writers. I think he is someone that is difficult to appreciate at first because the image of him is quite different that what he actually is. The term "Kafkaesque" often suggests something darkly surreal... and while there is an element of this in Kafka's work, he is certainly quite removed from the late Romantic/Gothic moodiness of Poe, Baudelaire, Gautier, etc... Kafka is very much the anti-Romantic. His language is stripped down... matter-of-fact... beaureaucratic dead-pan. He is surely a prime example of what J.L. Borges refers to as the final stages of art where art becomes "baroque"... engaged in self-referentiality... ironic. I have read the anecdote about Kafka reading to his friends as well. He was said to have been unable to read his works without continually laughing. This dark, dead-pan humor is something I appreciate most about him... His absurdist humor is far closer to J.L. Borges... Tomasso Landolfi... even the film, "Dr. Strangelove" than it is to the surrealism suggested by Dali, Breton, Max Ernst, or others.

I remember reading The Metamorphosis back in college. It didn't do much for me then, and I was somewhat put off by all the symbolic interpretations: The Metamorphosis as Freudian allegory, The Metamorphosis as an expression of modern man lost in an increasingly beaureaucratic world, The Metamorphosis as Marxist allegory, etc... Of course I appreciate the concept that a great work of art can speak on multiple levels, yet at the same time, as an artist myself (albeit a visual artist) I have always been rather cautious of (even disdainful) of the notion that one can reduce a work of art to a mere illustration of this or that social/political thereom.

Having said that much, I will go on to state that one of the most interesting interpretations of Kafka I have come across was by the poet/translator, Stephen Mitchell. In Mitchell's translation of the biblical book of Job, Mitchell notes the similarities with Kafka: the manner in which the individual is suddenly and absurdly abused by the gods/the powers above him without any reason... the manner in which his friends/family abandon him. This analogy is even more pronounced in The Trial and other stories. “Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.” Thus begins the trial... but one can easily imagine "Joseph K." being replaced by "Job". And what could be more absurdist than Jahweh turning to the tempter and saying, "see what you have made me do", after authorizing him to do whatever he will to his faithful servent... merely to prove a point. From reading Kafka's journals I have no doubt that the Bible (especially the Hebrew Bible) as well as Jewish/Yiddish tales and theater, with their long tradition of an absurdist dead-pan humor, were of great interest to the author.

By the way... for anyone interested in Kafka (among other Modernist authors) this site may be of great interest:


08-04-2006, 03:29 AM
I read Kafka a lot when I was at school, it was considered to be something really subversive and defeatist. So we read it privately but were not allowed to discuss it in school since our teachers didn't deem it to be ideologically correct behaviour for the young commie elite. Anyways, we always thought that Samsa turns into a giant dung beetle and dies because an apple has infested his body. (He cannot move and cannot get the apple out). This we found extremly shocking and hilarious at the same time (just like "Die Strafkolonie" (is it "the penitentiary" in English?) where the prisoner is stripped unto/into a machine which takes, strip by strip, his skin off? All of Kafka's work (famously "The Castle" (Das Schloss) and "Der Prozess") show someone lonely, unable to move or to get out of his situation, especially in Der Prozess it becames clear that the bureaucratic cage/machine of K.u.K. (kaiserlich und königlich / i.e. king and emperor) society is too much, is overwhelming. There is individuality, but it doesnt have a chance. However, the machine/cage/castle cannot be reduced to Habsburg Empire bureaucracy alone. The entire society, even the relation between different parts of the empire (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary etc.) were subject to rigid rules, society had come to an end, it had ceased to exists as a system of human relationships and had deteriorated into a system of relationships of roles defined by rank, position, profession, ethnic origin. German-language pre-first world war literature is much like this. They all thought society has gone week, lost its purpose, run empty (even people like Thomas Mann thought the war to be a brilliant idea to inject new life into Europe's bloodless bones). What sticks out about Kafka is that there is a clear surrealist tendency, not only in Metamorphosis. His psychological landscapes look like Derrida's paintings. However, in Kafka I cannot see that much evidence of Freudian ideas, they are much more apparent in Robert Musil "Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften" (Man without Qualities/Features ???). Although the latter is a very long novel (4 huge volumes) it provides a good background to the society and the general mindset Kafka had to endure.

lily of valley
08-04-2006, 04:05 AM
i read this novella last week . i was touched by its surreal humor.
i think the transformation that happened to gregor was not shocking to him but it was shocking to his family and to his society.that transformation done at one level by that merciless society had already existed at an earlier stage in gregor`s life. it was not sth new to him. here comes A/R ( appearance /reality ) technique so to say. when this technique was reversed and when the mask fell from this dehumanized humanity represented by gregor , many things happened: inability to deal with the situation , fear , indifference, .... failure to save this vermin-self

lily of valley
08-04-2006, 06:32 AM
Gregor reminds me of myself to some extent. I belong to the middle east ( please, those who belong to the middle east as well , do not feel angry with what I am about to say.) in the arab world , neither women nor men own their bodies . we can not do what we like with our bodies. To a great extent our bodies are owned by our families and by our society –i.e. we are dehumanized .
Similarly , gregor`s life was not his own. He had to work for the sake of his family , not for his own……..
to own this ownership ( one's body and one's life ) needs a lot of work : revolting against many social customs , questioning one's beliefs …, achieving self-independence, confidence,………..
not to own this ownership is estrangement –i.e. u become an outsider from your body and from what u want to be." This matter-of-fact assertion" is mixed with the surreal bizarre incidents and imagery of this novella.

" I am separated from all things by a hollow space , and I do not even reach to its boundaries ." Kafka.

08-04-2006, 01:03 PM
Hey Lily, what you've written is so sad. In some way (only in a very limited one of course) I can feel what you mean. Living in a commie country (at the time I read Kafka and the like) we had the feeling that our minds didnt really belong to us. Many people had scissors in their head that cut off any thought they wouldnt consider as allowed to be thought. That's perhaps why we (we is only a very small group of people) liked this sort of literature so much, it was something new to us that you were allowed to think defeatist thoughts. And this is subversive in a society were everything is bright, cheerful and progressive by definition. To change this kind of estrangement and oppression of individuality is not easy. No one who hasn't lived under such conditions (and has been raised in them since childhood) cannot ever know how difficult it really is. Although the GDR wasnt nearly such a harshly reacting country like the middle east seems to be, many (me too) had to pay dearly for going open. We were lucky though because we had niches in society where you could be critical or different. I dont know if such exist where you are. The biggest problem wasnt really the secret service (not in my experience anyway) but it was all the normal people (your fellow pupils, your work colleagues, even other dissidents who had sometimes their own agenda) who had adopted the approach of this bent society and who made you into an outcast when you didnt conform. While you can face a secret service guy or some official as your enemy, with your colleagues, your family, your colleagues you cannot. So keep on reading Kafka or whatever you read, it helps you not to submit and perhaps one day, you can teach your children something of this different view you have. That's why you have to keep on fighting and thinking your own thoughts. That's what my mum and my grandfather did with me (they made me into a political person) so that I could do my little bit on the big change we finally achieved. Your children or your childrens children will be able to do this too if you hold on to your inner freedom in order to convey it to them. (I didn't write much about Kafka now, hope you forgive me).

lily of valley
08-05-2006, 03:11 PM
Hail Torwench , when reading your response to me , many stormy feelings welled up inside my breast. I do not want the members of this lovely forum to cry because of what we said .
As I said earlier and back to our topic,
(This matter-of-fact assertion" is mixed with the surreal bizarre incidents and imagery of this novella. )
it seems whether I like it or not , I am 'gregor' to some extent .yet, I think I have the right to own my body . fortunately , some change starts to emerge in the mentality of the young generation ( but not in every single individual) . unfortunately , some foreign intruders do not approve our change, but rather they want to impose their stupid rules on us . let me tell you sth guys , this change/ metamorphosis will happen to the arab body without their intrusion . through you guys, I say to the whole world : leave us in peace . it is time to own this arab body of ours .
by the way , I did not divert from kafka`s novella by what I said . I trust your intelligence ,guys, to find how relevant my symbols to kafka`s.

" I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy." Kafka

08-06-2006, 03:15 AM
Hey Lily, you are quite angry (at least a bit) thus you cannot be Samsa who is resigned, not angry. Although I personally have always held that anger is much better than resignation there may be times where a person should control his/her anger. Remember what happened to Samsa after he became a beetle, everyone ignored him, they stopped seeing him as what he still was inside - a sentient being with emotions and thoughts. In the end, he died in despair, infested, poisened to death by an apple. (the apple from the tree of knowledge?)
What remains of the other part of the discussion is, I think, the following. You are quite right in the sense that if change should come it must come from yourselves. No one can import change successfully if people are not prepared to change. An outsider can always help if enough people are willing, if they are not, outside help is not help but coercion and must, in the long run, fail. However, you should also consider what change you want. Certainly not the change into a dung beetle. Not any change is a desirable one. If you do nothing, if you cannot break out of your own inactivity, then you are Samsa. But if you attempt to bring change about you must consider your direction. Germans know this very well. You can change, almost over night, into a killing machine. Now, you don't want that because once you stop, and you have to stop (either because someone else stops you or, if not, you run out of potential victims eventually) there will be nothing left of yourself. You always require the other to be yourself, if no others are left, you are nothing. You could, however, change into a Saladin-like society. Saladin the Great One, who was merciful to his enemies, generous to all his people, whatever their creed, deeply honourable and humane in all his conduct, loved even by the European Crusaders. This is what Arabia means to me, the preserver of Aristotle, and of all the philosophic and scientific literature Europe now calls its own, the builders of fountains, the beacon of tolerance and religious freedom when Europe struggled in darkest prejudice. Do you feel like claiming this back or is it something you have given up on? Tell me, I really would like to know.

lily of valley
08-06-2006, 07:12 AM
Hey torwench ,
I said I am samsa to some extent. All I want is to own , feel my body and control my life. I want to be who I want to be , not what others ( family , society , intruders) want me to be. I am suffering yet I will not resign. i thought that u understood what I have been talking about so far but unfortunately u do not understand me . we women of the middle east can not own our bodies unless men of the middle east free themselves from the severe pressure they are facing nowadays –that is occupation in the first place ( then there are many other things to be dealt with ) . How do u think men of the middle east will help themselves and will help their women to change if we and they are still under occupation???????
After all this interesting discussion , U think we are turning into a killing machine !!!!
By the way , I do not blame u at all. I will tell u why. Our media is weak because some arab leaders do not form unity . I do not know whether u are listening to the OTHER side – in my case , it is the middle east . please , go to the arab street to see the truth.
After our earlier discussion, u think I am denying the OTHER . alas!!!!!

It seems that u did not understand what I said previously concerning the similarity between my symbols and kafka`s . gregor samsa and his family faced many pressures, one of which is the lodgers( in my case it is the intruders ) . we will not become outsiders in our own lands I assure you. Are we denying the OTHER by defending our body .

U have to pay attention to sth guys, What I have been talking about so far applies to two levels of ownership . these two apply as well to kafka`s novella.

Gather your roses while you may, for time is still flying. But know the roses that bloom today, tomorrow may be dieing.

08-06-2006, 07:58 AM
Oh Lily, unfortunately you misunderstood me a bit. I didn't say that you turned into a killing machine (I don't even know in what part of the Middle East you live). I meant that we (ie. the Germans) turned into a killing machine and later turned almost entire Europe into one giant penitentiary. In 1933, 1939 respectively. Going back to Kafka and my earlier post on the situation in Habsburg Austria and Germany before the First World War, you can always say as well that Europe, and our countries especially, needed change. We had already turned into dung beetles. But we metamorphosed from dung beetles into something that meant that Europe's young men killed each other on the battle fields between 1914 and 1918. Four of my grandfather's brothers died in the Second world war, the youngest was only 18. My great-grandfather spent 6 years in a concentration camp. My father was in prison during the Stalin-era for having a pen pal in the United States. I have been persecuted between 1983 and 1989 when thankfully the wall came down. In 1983, I was only 18 myself. My family and I know what pressure is and harassment, we know of death and hatred too. And because I know this, (obviously much less than you do because at least in my own case, all was relatively civilised and my life was never in danger) I have never allowed myself to hate the other side. I even love the Russians a lot. Of course it is easy to say this when everything is over, as it is here. My husband's family is from Northern Ireland, they also know what bombs are and sudden attacks. What stopped the terrorism in Ireland was not only the government, it was the people who had enough. It was the mothers who said we haven't raised our sons to become, and die as, members of one faction or the other. It is not all well now but it has become so much better. The mothers on both sides of the divide said this and stood as one. They were able to do this because they realised that they had something in common: their fears, their pain, the graves and the wish to live an ordinary peaceful life. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes it may be better not to strike back. And don't forget, the world is watching and the world is not as biased as some would like to make you think.

02-12-2007, 01:37 AM
hey, maybe this could be interesting for you too:


the a's are at the same place, we have two s and two k's. because of this he wrote alone-i am and not i am alone.

read the letters with the books

Kafka hated people when one of his friends asked if 'Samsa' was supposed to mean 'Kafka'

03-30-2007, 06:22 PM
s.o.s i need help i have a presentation about the implications of the death of gregor samsa at the end and i need your thoughts about it

03-30-2007, 06:30 PM
Did any readers of Kafka ever hear of E.M.Cioren? I think somewhat contemporary with K and also Rodin and Rilke. You would never know they were all exposed to the same religiopolitical climate. RJS

03-31-2007, 05:16 AM
s.o.s i need help i have a presentation about the implications of the death of gregor samsa at the end and i need your thoughts about it


If you need something else, feel free to ask.

08-21-2008, 10:43 PM
Ive never been able to read The Metamorphosis all the way through - strikes too close to home.

Ah you don't want flashbacks of that time you awoke as a giant beetle? :D

Haven't read the metamorphosis in quite a while, will reread soon though. To me Kafka points out the phoniness in social structures by stripping away that which makes them appear to have value, leaving only the social structure/traditions to be examined.

For example, if Kafka wanted to write something criticizing religion, he'd maybe describe a religious-LIKE world of assembling every sunday, an appointed man preaching values, a book such as the bible, but in that world, to strip away the "titles" to only examine the absurd social traditions, Kafka may take away God, so that it would be people assembling in a building abiding by a mysterious book they've found but no one knows who wrote it, obeying the man speaking at the building every sunday, but no one knows his credentials. As silly as organized religion can be at times, the fact that it's for the sake of our creator, makes it unquestionable, despite any absurdity we see. So Kafka, to me it seems, like taking away the object that makes a tradition unquestionable, to examine what's really going on. (hopefully I didn't offend religious folk here, it's just the best example I could think of)


1. The Trial is stripped of an accusation, so it's not about justice for a certain crime, it's about the structure of power/authority and how everyone follows into it despite questionable meaning.

2. Castle - K is stripped of status - is he a mere migrant worker, or elite friend of the castle - Land surveyor is too vague to guess, and spends the novel trying to enforce a structure and his status/ranking where it's ambiguous. The "power" of K's status is stripped, so what's left for us to examine?

3. Metamorphosis - haven't read in a while, so I may be way off with this one. It's obviously about a family structure, maybe Kafka is questioning that. Why do we indebt ourselves to family? Merely because someone has sex and copulated? Do we really love family or is it a brainwashed structure of society? For example, when you stick up or help out a relative, a lot of people say they do it "because he's family", providing a title or structure, instead of describing the actual value and virtues of that person, it's merely drawn out into a socially provided "role".

Is Samsa really loved/appreciated or is it just because "he's family" they have to live with him and be supported by him and live in that role? He's familiar, they've known his face for 30 years and they are supported financially by him as is the case with most families. Kafka, like the other examples, strips away his familiarity to a beetle and thus it's alienation. Kafka strips Samsa of a job, thus he can't do the family "role" of providing. What's left to examine now that which defines a socially established role is gone?

12-26-2008, 01:52 AM
I just finished The Metamorphosis then. I plan to re-read it soon, but currently I'm reading some critical essays about the book.
I read this one essay where the writer makes it clear that the transformation is a metaphor for suicide.
Obviously Kafka was in a deep depression when he wrote the book, and he was practically the bread winner for his family (like Samsa). If he committed suicide at that point, he would have been betraying himself and his family.
Samsa's transformation can then be seen as a betrayal of himself and also of his family.

05-13-2009, 07:59 PM
Well what if Gregor never literally turned into a beetle? I believe his "transformation" is a symbol for him going insane, truly losing his mind. He was responsible for supporting his family and was forced to go through life with a monotony that drove him crazy. Sorry that sentence does not make much sense but I could not think of another way to word it. Now I have a question for you guys. I have to write this paper for my AP Lit class and i cannot come up with an example in Metamorphosis that supports my thesis. I believe that fear drives society to make monsters. Is there anyone who can help find and example of this in this novella? All I have so far is the alienation of Gregor's sister, Grete. At first she was putting up with his horrendous appearance but then once she learned of her father's opinions, she was totally repulsed by him... Help, please.

10-25-2009, 10:16 PM
Kafka has always been a difficult read for me and I have read the book three times and each time I got a different meaning in the book but it never stopped fascinating me in point of fact.

Kafka has a different presentation, in fact an experiment he had that distinguish him from the rest of others, for his way is surrealistic and it is really hard to kind of sequence one part with another when we read the novel.

Difficult or hard I always hungrily read Kafka, and I list him as one of the most fascination authors in my selection.

I like particularly his style of writing that is unique and a different experiment with language.

Kafka has always been a very fascinating read.

10-27-2009, 11:00 AM
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka has always been one of my favorite novellas. I've read it many, many times and enjoy it more each time. I always have such sympathy for Gregor Samsa. I always feel like he is being punished because of his differences. I'm not sure what the differences are, but they cause him to try to remain invisible. But they are too strong in him and he can't hid them. Everyone sees him as they believe him to be, vermin. His lack of self esteem causes him to see himself the same way. I know this is simplistic but it's my reaction.

11-01-2009, 04:37 AM
The Metamorphosis was written as agasint the conventional way of writing, and of course the writer has gone beyond set limits, systems, and he wove characters differently and that is why the book is hard to undersntand

Dr Jekyll
12-11-2009, 02:04 PM
By the way... for anyone interested in Kafka (among other Modernist authors) this site may be of great interest:


Thanks a lot for the site!

03-02-2010, 12:41 PM
Well, "The Metamorphosis" has a great sense, but it was hard to me to read it. When this man have transformed into this bug, I started to feel this ugly smell of poison for roaches. Kafka is a very talented writer if he causes such an emotions and feelings.

07-20-2010, 10:54 PM
I saw Gregor's troubles as a criticism of action. Kafka, perhaps unwittingly, was ridiculing, yet validating, the existential call for action.

Not in a direct way, Kafka demonstrated that the existence of a human is rarely understood. More so, the essence of a human is neither.

Gregor's troubles show this.

A loving son, caring brother and all round family keeper he is inauthentic and just a social construct. As a beetle he is authentic, his base self, but through lack of meaingful action which his family can interpret as appropriate for a family member he is now considered inauthentic and a social outcast. To amplify this consciousness he can speak but not be understood and he can understand in a way that nobody expects of him.

The absurdity, the nausea and the loneliness strike Gregor doubly.
As a young man all of these experiences hover around his being, as a beetle they become prominent.

As an inauthentic man - never choosing action, living in Sartre's bad faith - and as an authentic beetle - consciously choosing actions and accepting responsibility - Gregor is struck by the absurdity, the nausea and the loneliness either way.

An infection from an apple and drunk on melancholy Gregor chooses an authentic death but refused the chance to be a hero (Dosteovskian double / triple elements at play here.......does a true hero stay, leave or ignore the thought?).

Born by chance, live through weakness, die by chance. Gregor had the oportunity to decide his death and to do so magnificently, saving a memory, preserving a forward love etc, but didn't take it. He lived on through weakness.

To put all the above simply, because i tend to favour nonsense, Gregor was damned as a humand and damned as a beetle.

Either living consciously (the beetle) or unconsciously (the human) aware of his freedom and responsibility ultimately makes little difference. We realise, through Gregor, there is a difference to living authentically and not but it is not necesarily an option for the better, one way or the other, and the matter of fact of it actually happening is much down, entirely down, to chance itself. What virtue is there in being conscious if it is arrived at by chance?
More so, if becoming a beetle is purely down to chance (Gregor woke), then, after all, who would actually choose to want to become a beetle?

Consciousness is something arrived at that nobody aspires to, is the indication.
Dostoevskys underground man suggested it was an ilness. I believe Kafa is suggesting it is too.

Interestingly, Dostoevskys underground man described himself as neither a hero nor an insect.
Kafka's Gregor, we never actually know what type of monstrosity he is, might be neither too.


10-09-2010, 08:05 AM
Well what if Gregor never literally turned into a beetle?

I'd say it's purposefully ambiguous. The Metamorphosis is a great example of Expressionism, where ordinary life becomes a surreal nightmare of oppression and struggle for an identity. It doesn't matter whether he's physically a beetle or not. For himself and the reader, he 'is' a beetle.

12-10-2010, 09:03 AM
love it

01-18-2011, 07:38 AM
"The Metamorphosis" is my first reading of Kafka. It really was a good novella. At first, I thought it would be a sci-fi novella. It was very amusing at start especially how Gregor tried to please others forgetting all about himself. Yet, when I reached part III, I felt totally sorry and sad for Gregor.

How much considerate he was! He thought of all the things he'd done and would do for his family, especially his sister.

Most interestingly is the behavior of his sister, Grete. She tried to help him at the beginning, then she hated him at the end. She was the one who pronounced his death sentence. She thought of him as a burden.

Gregor's father, too, was very abhorring. He was the reason for Gregor's suffering by forcing him to work, to pay the debts. Also, smashing Gregor with an apple lead to Gregor's slow death. So, the father was responsible for the slow death of Gregor's soul by forcing him to work. Also, He was responsible for his slow physical death by hitting him with an apple. I guess the father is a symbol of Kafka's father who he resented too much.

My reading of the novella is that Kafka wanted to depict how miserable humans are in our today world. Work and materialism control our lives. A person cannot look for his individualism or he would be crushed right away.