The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off comp...

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Title:The Metamorphosis
Author:Franz Kafka
Rating:
ISBN:0553213695
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages:201 pages

The Metamorphosis Reviews

  • Nikki
    Dec 27, 2007

    Gregor waking up one morning as a bug was a hilarious analogy of the effects an illness can have on someone, as well as on those who are close to him. Though the underlying story behind the hilarity of the analogy was anything but funny. I took it as more of a warning of what NOT to do when a loved-one is afflicted by some unfortunate disease or circumstance. I found his resistance of acknowledging to himself that he had become a bug in the beginning of the story to be very interesting. When he

    Gregor waking up one morning as a bug was a hilarious analogy of the effects an illness can have on someone, as well as on those who are close to him. Though the underlying story behind the hilarity of the analogy was anything but funny. I took it as more of a warning of what NOT to do when a loved-one is afflicted by some unfortunate disease or circumstance. I found his resistance of acknowledging to himself that he had become a bug in the beginning of the story to be very interesting. When he couldn't ignore his state any longer, he looked to others' reactions as to how he would look at his own condition. As he was trying to unlock his bedroom door to let his parents and supervisor in, he thought,

    "If they took fright, then Gregor would have no further responsibility and could rest in peace. But if they took it all calmly, then he had no reason to get excited either and he could, if he hurried, actually be at the station by eight."

    The reaction of those around him, and most importantly, those of his closest loved-ones, is what influenced his own attitude towards himself and his own state. He became completely ashamed of himself, striving to completely hide himself from view, though it took great effort and pain on his part to do so. His imprisonment, or rather, his confinement from the company of others, had a devastating affect upon his mental well-being and in turn, affected his physical well-being. Such a sad story and the fact that his family didn't feel remorse for their actions, but relief for themselves at his death... I don't believe Kafka was trying to say this is how humans are indubitably, even though most of them try to put on a show of galantry and higher morals. But that humans certainly can become some of the most self-serving, self-centered creatures on Earth. It serves as a warning to us all that while it is good to allow others to serve us from time to time, it is far better to always serve others. Gregor's family had all become accustomed to being taken care of by him. They didn't even mind that he was held in servitude to pay off their debts. This was made evident when the fact was made known that Gregor's father had been saving up extra money earned by Gregor, when it could have been used to pay for his freedom much sooner. Gregor, on the other hand, had been serving his family and loved them purely because of it. His first thought was not of himself, but of the hardship his condition would cause his family.

    So lest we fall into such an ugly state of existence, let us guard ourselves by serving those we love, thus loving more those we serve.

  • Rebecca
    Jul 08, 2008

    I once used my copy to kill a beetle.

    Thereby combining my two passions: irony and slaughter.

    *wields*

  • Ken
    Dec 19, 2008

    Endlessly dissected, ripped apart, its guts laid out on a slab, sewn back together, reconstructed, reinterpreted, misunderstood, misinterpreted, parodied, plagiarized, overanalyzed, and sadly sometimes underappreciated. Kafka’s

    is one of those jumping off points for modern literature, a key touchstone where so many good writers -- Borges, Nabokov, García Márquez – found inspiration in his work and studied it like a textbook on great writing.

    But what is the metamorphosis? A dark

    Endlessly dissected, ripped apart, its guts laid out on a slab, sewn back together, reconstructed, reinterpreted, misunderstood, misinterpreted, parodied, plagiarized, overanalyzed, and sadly sometimes underappreciated. Kafka’s

    is one of those jumping off points for modern literature, a key touchstone where so many good writers -- Borges, Nabokov, García Márquez – found inspiration in his work and studied it like a textbook on great writing.

    But what is the metamorphosis? A dark fantasy about a man who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a vile insect-like creature? Or an absurdist tale of a schizophrenic who believes he’s been turned into a human-sized beetle, terrorizing his family with his decrepit mental state? Kafka left that open for us to decide, even asking his original publisher to remove any imagery involving an insect off the cover. The first edition cover (you can find it on Wikipedia: ttp://

    ) is not a definitive statement on the story either. Is it the afflicted Gregor Samsa we see or his unnerved father fleeing from the sight of the creature in his son’s room? As it was written in German, Kafka never definitively stated what Gregor had become. The term he used, in what has now become one of the more famous opening lines in literature, to describe Gregor’s transformation was “ungeheueres Ungeziefer,” which literally means “unclean animal not suitable for sacrifice.” This has been translated (and mistranslated) as “gigantic insect” in some cases, but in later years, more translators have settled on “monstrous vermin,” as this seems to suit Kafka’s vague intent much better. But if you want to read the numerous theories, Google the book. I’ll leave it to those who are far more and far less philosophical than I.

    In its construction,

    is flawless. Kafka upends the entire structure of modern storytelling, giving us the climax first, never explaining the possible source for Gregor’s affliction. Instead, Kafka leaves us in the dénouement, showing us the ugly effects of Gregor’s transformation on his too dependent family, who must now care for this unwanted monstrosity. As the tables are turned, the family shuns Gregor, locking him away. We then see Gregor move in two opposing directions -- becoming more louse-like in his basic behavior (such as eating garbage), but also more human in his fantasies (and sudden appreciation of music). It is this complex contrast that makes Gregor seem more human to us, thus playing into Kafka’s slippery reality that confuses as much as illuminates.

    And yet,

    is not all doom and gloom. It’s actually quite funny. Sure, it has a dark, black sense of humor, but nevertheless, you can’t help but laugh at parts. When the new house maid spies Gregor for the first time, she does not turn tail, screaming in horror like his family. She merely states, “Come over here for a minute you old dung beetle!” Or the lodgers, who upon seeing Gregor slowly crawling towards them, do not try to smash him or exit the premises. They try to negotiate out of paying rent to Gregor’s father in light of the “disgusting conditions prevailing in this apartment and family.” Even Gregor’s ultimate fate, which I won’t give away, is handled in a way that the cast members from Monty Python’s Flying Circus would certainly appreciate.

    With so many layers to it,

    still remains one of the most studied and widely imitated novels of the 20th century. But in its purest sense, it is an amazing, perfectly crafted, dark little fable.

  • Dan Schwent
    May 02, 2011

    Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to discover he's been transformed into a giant beetle-like creature. Can he and his family adjust to his new form?

    The Metamorphosis is one of those books that a lot of people get dragooned into reading during high school and therefore are predisposed to loath. I managed to escape this fate and I'm glad. The Metamorphosis is quite a strange little book.

    Translated from German, The Metamorphosis is the story of how Gregor Samsa's transformation tears his family apa

    Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to discover he's been transformed into a giant beetle-like creature. Can he and his family adjust to his new form?

    The Metamorphosis is one of those books that a lot of people get dragooned into reading during high school and therefore are predisposed to loath. I managed to escape this fate and I'm glad. The Metamorphosis is quite a strange little book.

    Translated from German, The Metamorphosis is the story of how Gregor Samsa's transformation tears his family apart. I feel like there are hidden meanings that are just beyond my grasp. I suspect it's a commentary about how capitalism devours its workers when they're unable to work or possibly about how the people who deviate from the norm are isolated. However, I mostly notice how Samsa's a big frickin' beetle and his family pretends he doesn't exist.

    There's some absurdist humor at the beginning. Samsa's first thoughts upon finding out he's a beetle is how he's going to miss work. Now, I'm as dedicated to my job as most people but if I woke up to find myself a giant beetle, I don't think I'd have to mull over the decision to take a personal day or two.

    Aside from that, the main thing that sticks out is what a bunch of bastards Samsa's family is. He's been supporting all of them for years in his soul-crushing traveling salesman job and now they're pissed that they have to carry the workload. Poor things. It's not like Gregor's sitting on the couch drinking beer while they're working. He's a giant damn beetle! Cut him some slack.

    All kidding aside, the ending is pretty sad. I'll bet Mr. Samsa felt like a prick later. The Metamorphosis gets four stars, primarily for being so strange and also because it's the ancestor of many weird or bizarro tales that came afterwords. It's definitely worth an hour or two of your time.

  • s.penkevich
    Sep 24, 2011

    Gregor Samsa awakes one day, changed forever. How unpredictable is life, one moment leading to a new labyrinth of existence where forward is the only motion available, our scars and choices following us in a tuneless parade with few interested spectators. Despite our lives being a personal struggle, it is constantly judged, criticized and appraised by all those whom we encounter. Oh, the injuries we inflict upon one another. We alienate and assume instead of communicate, we fear

    Gregor Samsa awakes one day, changed forever. How unpredictable is life, one moment leading to a new labyrinth of existence where forward is the only motion available, our scars and choices following us in a tuneless parade with few interested spectators. Despite our lives being a personal struggle, it is constantly judged, criticized and appraised by all those whom we encounter. Oh, the injuries we inflict upon one another. We alienate and assume instead of communicate, we fear differences and we yell when we should love. Strange how the ones we love tend to be the ones we hurt, or hurt us the most. Kafka’s classic story

    is an alarming tale of alienation and hurt that seems fantastical on the outside to house a bitter pill of reality that has roots in us all. What is most compelling about Kafka is his ability to construct a tale from personal anxiety and injury that broadcasts as a universal message to all that read it, honing in on the guilt, loneliness and frustration in every heart. Gregor’s terrifying tale of transformation is a powerful rendition of guilt and the failure to succeed in a father’s eyes that utilizes religious imagery and fantastical occurences to drive the knife into the reader’s heart and soul.

    Gregor lives a life of solemn servitude to his job and, most importantly, his family. His job is a necessity to support a family whose debts accrued by the now-unemployed father are being repaid by the fruits of Gregor’s labor. While Gregor has provided the family with a modest home which he shares with them, the debt seems an unquenchable burden he can never fulfill. In the original German, the word

    means both ‘debt’ and ‘guilt’¹, a critical texture to the text ironed away by translation that opens a gateway of understanding Gregor’s father issues. There is the guilt at being unable to satisfy the father, to live up to the father, and the senior Samsa is a quick tempered man. Kafka struggled with a strained relationship with his own abusive father, a struggle that he transformed into a literary theme permeating much of his artistic output. Much of Kafka’s life soaks into this work, much like the constant slamming doors he often complained of in his own household with his family.

    Despite his transformation, what initially upsets Gregor most is that he is missing work. I felt this sting deep within myself, being the head of a household and barely making ends meet despite long hours. The burden of the working class is to be so dependant on a job as life-blood creating a system of guilt and depraved necessity that pulls us from bed to work despite any affliction; we must work, we must provide, we must survive. To stumble is to die, yet even staggering onward seems just a slow suicide climbing towards an unattainable surface from our pit of existence. Gregor feels this, the reader feels this, and Kafka’s magic has been unleashed. To fail to work is yet another failure in the eyes of the obdurate father.

    The father and the Father seem united in the character of the elder Samsa. Kafka himself struggled with his Jewish identity, made plain in his diaries. As

    points out in his exquisite

    ², the number three is pivotal to the understanding of the story.

    Three, of course, representing the Holy Trinity (there are many other important details surrounding three, such as the clock tower striking three after Gregor retreats into his room, or Gregor standing on his three hind legs since the fourth was damaged beyond repair). The rejection and unfulfillment of the father is also Gregor’s failure to be valuable in the eyes of the Father, God, and perhaps this may be the cause of the unexplained (and rather unquestioned for the most part) transformation that has befallen the poor man. The fatal blow pinning Gregor to the ground like a crucified Christ (while this may be a slight stretch, there are other Christ-like references such as the sudden pain in Gregor's side much like the spear in the side while on the cross) is an Edenic apple thrown from the father, rotting and festering in him like our sins until we breath our last.

    ’ said Kafka, made evident in Gregor’s failure to communicate in his new form. Communication is the cornerstone of understanding others, and being stripped of his voice severs his link to his family and humanity. ‘

    ’ the office chief exclaims after Gregor attempts to communicate with them through language. With his loss of language, his family slowly ceases to view him as Gregor but as a dumb beast, easing them into letting go of their notions that he is still Gregor. He is now an unproductive, dumb hindrance to their lives and they begin to forget him and move on to a productive life of work and family without him. It is like an invalid aging relative, many continue to care for them out of respect for their memory, but the person slowly becomes a chore or a burden and not a human-being in their minds. Another view of Gregor in his new state is that of a person stricken by crushing depression or other mental or emotional ailments where those around them begin to view them by their illness and not their soul. They forget the person that is still there, the person they know and love, and dwell on the chasm forged between them. It is human nature, it makes it easier to cope. How many people walk away when times get tough, even abandon the ones they love because it is easier to convince yourself they are not the person you loved than it is to fight for them or fight for what was once had. Kafka’s genius is that he took a personal experience and related it as a universal parable with endless interpretations, each unique and equally valid as they blossom within each respective reader.

    Rereading this story was a rewarding experience and I very much connected with it. Gregor was a traveling businessman, and I am a traveling delivery driver. The musings on the plight and unique depression of long hours in strange faraway places hit home, as well as the notion from everyone else that traveling in such a manner is some royal treat. Granted, I greatly enjoy the work and the freedom of being, essentially, a professional vagrant, yet there is a tinge of alienation being a person without an anchor, always on the move, always chasing a horizon. The feelings of guilt, of alienation, the struggles with family, everything range true plucking my heartstrings like a guitar to form a foreboding yet fantastic melody. Kafka is as relevant to the modern reader as he was in his own time with themes that illuminate us with their timeless insight into society and the individual.

    ¹ There is an interesting

    recently published by the BBC on ‘the German’s debt psyche’ and the cultural relationship between debt and guilt stemming from the word

    .

    ² There is a wonderful film adaptation of Nabokov’s lectures with Christopher Plummer as Nabokov. You can watch it

    .

  • Gaurav
    Mar 12, 2012

    The Metamorphosis can quite easily be one of Franz Kafka’s best works of literature- one of the best in Existentialist literature. The author shows the struggle of human existence- the problem of living in modern society- through the narrator.

    Gregor Samsa wakes in his bed and discovers he has transformed into a some kind of a giant bug; he struggles to find what actually has happened to him, he looks around his small room and everything looks normal to him however it

    The Metamorphosis can quite easily be one of Franz Kafka’s best works of literature- one of the best in Existentialist literature. The author shows the struggle of human existence- the problem of living in modern society- through the narrator.

    Gregor Samsa wakes in his bed and discovers he has transformed into a some kind of a giant bug; he struggles to find what actually has happened to him, he looks around his small room and everything looks normal to him however it gets a weird feeling it may not be so. He tries to roll over and go back to sleep in order to forget about what has happened, but because of the shape of his back, he can only rock from side to side.

    The opening line of the novella recounts the bizarre event of Gregor’s transformation in a quite straightforward manner, the author used the contrasting picture of an unusual situation and ordinary things of life to create an absurd world which is chilly, chaotic rather than ordered and rational.

    Gregor gets used to his insect body and his family feeds him (mainly the wrong things, but they don't care) and removes furniture from his room so that he can freely move around and climb the walls. But they don't want to see his ugly form, he is confined to his room, and usually hides under the sofa when his sister enters with his food, to spare her sensibilities (in contrast to the sweetly human insect Gregor, his sister is not considerate at all, but increasingly antagonistic and cruel); his brutish father chases him back by throwing apples at him when he once comes out. The family members also have to take jobs for they can no longer sponge off the successful son. And the situation breaks down, and the family disintegrates.

    The problem of alienation is explored to depth in the novella- Gregor become insect and behaviour of his family members change towards him, he may transformed to something unusual at the core he is still the same however he faces problem of acceptance by society due to his transformed appearance.

    Gregor Samsa can make us think more deeply about our own identity, about the fluidity of what we take to be stable and fixed, and about the perils and miracles of our own metamorphoses. Kafka shows us that how the values of conventional society are warped due to our inability to look beyond the surface to the human being inside.

  • Huda Yahya
    Dec 10, 2013

  • Petra Eggs
    Apr 16, 2014

    A paraphrase. When my ex-husband went out one evening from unsettling dreams of how faraway his wife was, he went out drinking and whoring. Next morning he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. A cockroach. Much he knew it though. None of his friends recognised it, in fact they preferred the cockroach to the person he had been and he had a great time. When it was time for him to come home, armour-plated as he was he crushed his wife underfoot (well fists and kicks, but same t

    A paraphrase. When my ex-husband went out one evening from unsettling dreams of how faraway his wife was, he went out drinking and whoring. Next morning he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. A cockroach. Much he knew it though. None of his friends recognised it, in fact they preferred the cockroach to the person he had been and he had a great time. When it was time for him to come home, armour-plated as he was he crushed his wife underfoot (well fists and kicks, but same thing).

    Unlike Kafka's poor cockroach whom no one could come to terms with and is destroyed by their ultimate hatred of creepy, crawly insects that roam the house, my ex was embraced by all and became the most popular party person. Although at one stage I did have to fight off a woman who was swinging her handbag at me and tell a Spanish prostitute that my husband's unwanted attentions were no business of mine.

    The moral of the story is that there is more than one type of human cockroach and Kafka only wrote about one. It's all in the shell, if you are ugly, big, brown and with six legs you are hated. But handsome, big brown and with only two, you are adored.

    Read this book back in 1999 and loved it. Social isolation for visible or invisible characterists reverberated with me, as did the cold gang mentality that rules once each has identified itself as a sympathetic member.

    5 star book

    2 star ex husband (I did get my son so he gets a star for that).

  • Ahmad  Ebaid
    May 17, 2014
  • Mohammed Arabey
    May 31, 2014

    Arabic/English Review

    Arabic/English Review

    Third read was after all that rant in my edition which I only liked a few of it all- It didn't tell me more than I already 'felt' about the story, some articles add more deep understanding to what I've already understand..but some was OVER-Analyze..may be away of what Kafka wanted to tell...

    Mohammed Arabey

    From May 31 2014

    To June 13 2014

    PS : Since I've read a 200 pages edition of a 50 pages only novel, I Know how it feels to read long rant about a novel, It's Kinda boring..So I've tried to make it short...but couldn't :)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>