. . . 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?When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.
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.