The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

Overview

Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a large insect like creature, what he describes as a "monstrous vermin". However, what Gregor worries about when he wakes is not how he became an insect, nor even how to revert to his previous state. Instead, he worries about what the consequences will be at his workplace. Even his family, beyond the revulsion, is rather non-reactant. Gregor lives, locked in his bedroom, for several weeks with only his sister coming in to give him food and water. Eventually, she tires of caring for him, and the family decides to find a way to get rid of Gregor. Unbeknownst to them, he understands, and, determined to rid them of his presence, dies.

Themes

The Metamorphosis is packed with themes ranging from absurdity to the disconnect between mind and body. The latter, for example, is shown in how Gregor is determined to behave as humanly as possible despite his transformation. He tries to stand upright and even contemplates returning to work, disregarding his new limitations.

Inspiration

The Author

Franz Kafka was born in 1883 in Austria. Most of his works center on archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, and mystical transformations, as shown in The Metamorphosis. Some of his other works include short stories like The Trial and The Castle.