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The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka: A Summary, Analysis And Interpretation
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I. Plot/ Summary

The story immediately starts with Gregor Samsa, the main character, being found changed into a monstrous vermin.

His back became as hard as an armor plate, his belly became brown and arched in ribs, and two legs became thinner which multiplied into several more legs.

Of course, at first, he thought that this could only be a dream, but it wasn't.

Gregor was a travelling salesman. He was the only member of his famiy who currently had a job because his father was a retiree, his mother an ordinary housewife, and his sister was still a minor.

For the first time in his life, he got up late for his work. Once the reality of his metamorphosis set in, the ordinary things he used to do as a human being now became a challenge, and the things that were small to him as a human were now larger in relation to his size.

Because his tardiness was now reported by the messenger boy, his manager went to their residence to inquire about him. The manager had a tiny chat with his parents when Gregor came out of his room.

Unaware of how hideous he looked and the eerie change that took place in his voice, he scared off his manager and gave the rest of his family a good fright.

From then on, no longer obliged to work, he locked himself up in his room for the rest of the story. As time passed by, he took upon himself the characteristics of an insect-- his food preference, his perception of things, his thoughts, and his actions.

Due to his unemployment, his family had to turn their apartment into a boarding room. Three bearded men of succeeding ages who were very displeased with uncleanliness and disorderliness became their boarders.

As a result, Gregor was to be kept away from their path. In addition to that, his father, mother, and sister took up different jobs to sustain a decent lifestyle now that Gregor couldn't do that for them anymore:

His father became a messenger, his mother sewed delicate lingerie, and his sister worked as a salesgirl. The dreaded moment came for all of them when, as a form of amusement for the boarders, Grete was asked to play the violin.

She played so well that everyone in the apartment who heard her music was deeply moved, including Gregor the insect.

Upon hearing his sister's music, he inched his way little by little toward the door until he couldn't help but go to where his sister was. It wasn't long before the boarders saw him.

His father drove the boarders back into their rooms, his mother was overcame with a coughing fit, and his sister burst out crying.

"He must leave!" she resolved thatt was better that they remember Gregor the human in honor to his memory than to be tormeted by a horrible insect. Gregor thought so, too.

At three o' clock the following morning, he breathed his last breath.

Their new maiden noticed the corpse and simply shoved the "dung beetle" into her dust pan.

After Gregor's death, his family decided to move into a smaller residence and start anew. After planning Gregor's life, his parents now started to plan Grete's.

II. Analysis

Gregor was transformed into an insect because, subconsciously, he may have also wished it. He wished not to become an insect per se, but to be free from his family's debt and his present job which he despised so much.

One interpretation of Gregor's metamorphosis was a 'rebellion' against his father because by assuming the position of breadwinner, he took his father's debt upon himself.

His transformation into an insect symbolized a 'desire for flight' from his present life, a wish to retreat from the world and to be relieved of, all responsibility.

Gregor Samsa had ambivalent feeings toward his family: he loved them just as any other family member would, but in being their sole breadwinner, provider, and debt payer, he lost his identity and a chance to a life of his own.

By Gregor's death as an insect, he was reconciled with his own true self as well as be released from shouldering the debt of his family.

III. Interpretation

Critics say that Franz Kafka was conveying to his readers his frustration with himself and his real father, as The Metamorphosis was very similar to his own personal life. 'Kafka' was even very similar with 'Samsa.'

He had a dominant father whom he obeyed without question. Kafka tried to win his father's approbation all the time, so he struggled with feelings of inadquacy and guilt because it seemed like his efforts were never enough, especially in the area of his business.

In my humble opinion, The Metamorphosis has two messages to convey:

One, that of regression, that too much pressure and expectation causes people to retreat into their own little zones and shut the rest of the world out.

Two, that of liberation, when we take this story in a positive way. This implies the need to rise above how we see ourselves in relation to our circumstances to be in peace with who we truly are.

In the story, Gregor finds peace with his true self and to his family by dying as an insect which was an alien concept to them both.

Street Talk

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