“The Metamorphosis“, analysis of the novella by Franz Kafka

The main character of the novella, Gregor Samsa, is a provider for the family, which consists of the father – completely bankrupt resident of Prague, mother – an asthma patient, and sister Greta. In order to save the family from poverty, Gregor works for one of father`s loaners as a travelling cloth salesman. He is always on business trips and once, in between those trips, he sleeps at home. And in the morning he finds out, that something happened, that goes beyond the scope of human reason. He is turned into a vermin.

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked.

“What’s happened to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream.

These are the words the novella starts with.

However, this event is only the beginning of the troubles, everything gets worse later on. Because of Gregor`s uncanny transformation into vermin, he is fired from his job, which is only natural for he could no longer work, provide for his family and pay out his father`s debt.

Every member of the family has a different reaction on Gregor`s metamorphosis. The father is angered; he cannot understand how his son can be in a body of the insect. The mother is scared and upset, but she still has her mother`s feelings and she understands that there is her son in that body. Sister Greta abhors the vermin, however exactly she takes the burden of taking care of it on herself. It is impossible to say whether she takes care of the insect because of family sentiments, desire to prove her independence to the parents or simply from gratitude, but it is safe to assume that the second variant is closer to the truth.

Gregor`s entrance to the living room, where all family members and a chief from his work were, should not in any way be treated as a challenge to society. From the words and thoughts of Gregor it is possible to understand that he is a man with a sense of responsibility. He comes out of his room in his current appearance only because of his sense of duty and him understanding his responsibilities before his family and employer and he completely forgets about his illness and bizarre transformation.

Gregor`s decision to pass away was influenced by many factors if his life as an insect…

First, he felt extremely lonely; his mind could not bear existence in a body of a vermin. Secondly, he could no longer help his family make ends meet financially. Thirdly, and most importantly, Gregor Samsa loved his family very much, he spent his entire sacrificing himself for them and in his current state, he could no longer do that, instead he became a burden for his parents. On the final day of his life, he heard his sister say that, if he was sentient and loved his family, he would have left and stopped disturbing them. Greta affected his conscience and Gregor could bear it no longer.

Gregor was transformed into an insect probably because of the fact that, even when he was in a human body, his life resembled the life of an insect more than the life of a human. He worked tirelessly not for himself, but for his family, he was interested in nothing and was lonely. And maybe this transformation was needed for him to see the ingratitude of his family, for they were suffering not because of Gregor`s sickness but rather their financial problems.

In his novella “The Metamorphosis”, Franz Kafka addressed the problems of devotion, workaholism and family relationships. In this literary work it is shown that, because of financial difficulties, man can lose even humanity itself.

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