Franz Kafka’s novella “The Metamorphosis” carries an allegorical meaning, and the moral of the story is hard to reach. The plot is narrated in a straightforward and chronological way, and the events are transparent. The only departure from reality is in Gregor’s metamorphosis when he becomes a giant bug.
The style, structure and language are simple while the complexity of the work can be found in the mere idea.
The reader, considering the simplicity of the novella and the knowledge of the author’s biography, can search for lessons in the story themselves. It can be analyzed if we are familiar with Kafka’s relationship with his family and the human relationship to people who are different or not well adjusted.
We could say that the central theme is the brutal relationship between people and an individual that experiences a change that isn’t his fault. He gets rejected instead of receiving emotional closeness and understanding.
It is believed that Kafka described his relationship towards family through Gregor who often neglected himself to please his family, his fear to jeopardize anyone and his constant need to place everything before himself.
The urge to survive in everyday life leaves no acceptance for someone’s differences. Sensitivity and concern fade with time, a tragedy occurs, but the sad ending doesn’t only bring remorse but also relieve. The family continues their life as if nothing happened.
Kafka tears down the traditional family relationship and the fake society’s moral. To state the problem of the story Kafka had to force it to the level of grotesque.
Place: Samsa’s home
The novella “The Metamorphosis” tells the story of Gregor Samsa. He was a hard working traveling salesman that cared about the survival of his family. The plot is set in the home of the Samsa family that has four members.
Gregor Samsa, the main character, wakes up one morning only to realize he was turned into a bug. He thought he was dreaming so he decided to stay in bed a little longer with the notion that it could cause him troubles at work.
His family was worried about him, so they started knocking on his doors. Gregor was half asleep thinking about the job he felt a bit disgusted by, about the exhausting travels and the impossibility to change his job because his family was in debts.
He looked at his clock and realized he missed his bus, and the next one came in 15 minutes. Again he tried to get up, but the new body and numerous legs prevented him from doing that. His mother asked him to get up, and he responded with painful noises that sounded like an animal produced them.
The family got more concerned about him and soon after a colleague from his work came by to check why was he late. They all went knocking on his doors, hoping he’ll open.
Gregor decided he had to get to the doors somehow, but he was afraid of the reaction people will have to his new appearance. He put all of his efforts into getting up and then he opened the doors with his mouth.
The reactions were horrible as Gregor expected. His mother fainted, and his colleague ran away. Gregor knew he had to catch up with him to explain that he still wants to work but his father though that he wants to attack them, so he chased him back into his room with a stick. He fell asleep in the room again and woke up late in the evening.
When he finally opened his eyes, he felt a horrible thirst. His eyes would stop in the corner of the room where his family left some food so he would have something to eat when he woke up. He felt repulsed by human food and didn’t want to eat it.
As the night came, Gregor became anxious. He crawled under his canapé and started to think of ways to diminish shock because of his new appearance. He thought that it was best to take it all peacefully and calm his family that suffered because of his metamorphosis.
His sister had the most understanding for him. She came in often bringing him food, and she cleaned the room for him. While she was inside, he would be hidden under the canapé. Even though Gregor didn’t look like a human anymore, his mind and soul were human, and he understood and heard everything.
Time passes by, and Gregor observes the events in his house. He found out that his family made it out after his metamorphosis with the help of his father’s savings and his decision to find a job.
His sister though it would be best to empty his room so he could walk freely. Gregor was shocked with her idea because he couldn’t believe they’d take away his private stuff which was his only link to his human past. Nobody asked for his opinion because he was unable to speak.
Gregor decided to express his disapproval by running across the room while they were taking away his belongings.
While he was running around his mother was walking by and she fainted again. Gregor’s father thought that he did something wrong, so he threw an apple at him that got stuck and opened up a wound.
The family decided to give Gregor one last shot to feel like a part of the family by leaving the doors open in the evening so he could see what was happening in the living room when the family gathered. As time passed, the family feared him less but also noticed him less.
His father started working again, so they hired some help around the house. The newcomer accepted Gregor’s condition but acted harshly towards him by insulting him while she was cleaning his room.
His sister still took care of him, brought him food, but she didn’t feel like cleaning up the remains that were piling up because Gregor couldn’t eat anymore and became weaker. Gregor’s room became a storage for an unnecessary and old thing, and the doors were mostly shut, sometimes even during the evening. The reason for that was the arrival of tenants who were there because the family was going through a rough financial situation and had to rent out a room. They had to hide Gregor away so his appearance wouldn’t scare anyone.
One night the tenants and the family gathered to listen to his sister play the violin. The doors to Gregor’s room were left open, and he felt like no one from the household cared much for his sister’s talent so he decided to support her. He crawled out to show his admiration for his sister.
His appearance repulsed the tenants and threatened to sue the family because the house was obviously filthy.
That event was crucial for his family. Even his sister, who loved him deeply, thought that they should get rid of him. When Gregor heard about his family’s plans, he was crushed. He crawled back into his room with the notion that his family rejected him. When he went in someone locked the door. Gregor was exhausted, and he died.
The next morning the cleaning lady threw him into the trash. When the family heard he was dead, they felt relieved and decided to take a road trip and enjoy the sunny, spring day.
Characters: Gregor Samsa, mother, father, sister, work colleague, cleaning lady, tenants
Gregor Samsa – the main character of the novella. He was the reflection of mediocrity. He worked as a traveling salesman, his paycheck was small but still he took care of him family and tried to pay off their debts. He expected nothing in return. His work abilities were average, and he was tired of his job that does not fulfill him. When his metamorphosis occurred he didn’t think of himself but of his family and the discomfort his new appearance will cause them. He didn’t bring their compassion into question thinking that they’ll still take care of him after they get over the shock. The justifies his family by thinking they need some time to adjust to his new appearance. He offered comfort to his sister even though he was the one who needed it the most and that was the crucial event for which his family will reject him. In the end, he died in sadness and pain.
Fraz Kafka Biography
Franz Kafka was born in Prague on July, the 3rd in 1883. He was born into a wealthy family dominated by his father and he grew up in the shadow of his father’s authority which made a great impact on him.
After finishing high school, he studied chemistry. After that, he transferred to German and German literature to end up finally studying law. In reality, he only wanted to be a writer. During his life, two books of stories and a few magazine articles by him were published.
During his lifetime “Contemplation”, “A Country Doctor”, “A hungry artist”, “The Judgement” and “The Metamorphosis” were published.
He stated a wish in his will for all of his books to be burned but the will executor, Max Brod, didn’t want to do that. The books supposed to be burn were “The Trial”, “America” and “The Castle”.
Kafka died from tuberculosis in Wien on June the 3rd, 1924. In 1931 the stories “The great Wall of China” were published.
Franz Kafka was one of the most important artists of modern day literature and contemporary novel. To its testimony speaks the fact that many contemporary novel writers use his work as a start, or better to say an inspiration in writing.