The Metamorphosis by F. Kafka

Franz Kafka belongs to those writers of the twentieth century whose fiction express sorrow over the fracturing of human community. Though Kafka remains exceptional in that he took pleasure in no public acknowledgment during his lifetime, his world-fame pertained to him just after his death. His well-developed, modernist parables typically do not have any fixed significance, yet they show the insecurities of an age when faith in old-established beliefs has collapsed.

Kafka masterfully combines within one structure the knowable and mystical, an exact portrayal of the accurate world with a dreamlike and wonderful dissolution of it. By unifying those contrary aspects he had the ability to attain some new blend design in prose fiction. The analysis of among his works will permit seeing in what method Kafka attains that extensive quality of his expression of the experience of human loss, estrangement, and guilt– an experience significantly dominant in the contemporary age.

Kafka’s best-known story The Transformation is the demonstrative example of Kafkaesque paradox which consists in clashing the realism of commonplace information with not just unlikely however ridiculous turns of events. The inner world of Kafka’s character leaks from possible to real, Gregor Samsa in The Transformation transmews into an insect as the only way to manifest his insect-like relationship to the world, where he lives. It is no dream.

The Transformation is strange as a narrative in having its climax in the extremely first sentence: “As Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from anxious dreams he found himself changed in his bed into a massive pest.” (Kafka, 19) The remainder of the story falls away from this high point of awe in one long expiring sigh. This kind of narrative, which opposes all conventional ideas of presenting the discourse, breaches the rules simply the exact same as individuals’s faith in particular ancient beliefs had actually been violated in the twentieth century. As it is understood, the standard narrative bases on the drama of dénouement, the so-called service of complications and the coming to a conclusion.

For Kafka such type is not acceptable since it is just precisely the lack of dénouement and conclusions that is his subject. His story has to do with death, but death that is without dénouement, death that is merely a spiritually petering out. The very first sentence of The Metamorphosis announces Gregor Samsa’s death and the rest of the story is his sluggish dying. However, in no case Kafka’s lead character is going to give up meekly. He struggles against the reality of life which, actually ended up being a death for him; in his case, it follows, his life is his death and there is no escape. For a minute, it is true, near the end of his long dying, while listening to his sibling play the violin, he feels “as if the way were opening prior to him to the unidentified nourishment he longed for” (Kafka, 76); but the nutrition remains unidentified, he is locked into his space for the last time and he ends.

What Gregor awakens to on the early morning of his metamorphosis is the reality of his life. His ordinary consciousness has lied to him about himself; now he is challenged with the transfer from his regular self-understanding into the problem of fact. That terrible dream, which he got into, reveals, in fact, truth, which he could not have understood previously– he is a vermin, a horrible creature shut out from “the human circle.” (Kafka, 33) At this moment it should be highlighted that Kafka chooses to utilize a metaphor, so that Gregor Samsa is not like a vermin but he is vermin. Anything less than metaphor, such as a simile comparing Gregor to vermin, would reduce the reality of what Kafka is attempting to represent. Gregor appears in a dream and it is only natural that a dreamer, while dreaming, takes his dream for truth. Nevertheless, his transformation is undoubtedly no dream however a discovery of the truth. And this truth is composed of an array of facts.

Firstly he comprehends the deteriorative effect of his job upon his soul, the job that materially supports him however cuts him off from the possibility of genuine human associations:

Oh God, he believed, what an exhausting task I’ve teased! Traveling about day in, day out. It’s much more irritating work than doing the real organisation in the workplace, and on top of that there’s the difficulty of continuous taking a trip, of worrying about train connections, the bad and irregular meals, the human associations that are no quicker struck up than they are ended without ever ending up being intimate. The devil take it all! (Kafka, 20)

He has been compromising himself by working at his worthless, degrading task so as to settle an old debt of his parents’ to his company. Otherwise “I ‘d have notified long earlier, I ‘d have gone to the chief and informed him exactly what I think of him.” (Kafka, 21) However even now, with the truth of his self-betrayal pinning him on his back to his bed, he is unable to declare himself for himself and choose to stop– he must wait “another 5 or six years”:

Once I have actually saved enough cash to repay my parents’ debts to him– that need to take another five or six years– I’ll do it without stop working. I’ll cut myself totally loose then. For the minute, however, I ‘d better get up, because my train goes at 5. (Kafka, 21)

Another truth exposed through metamorphosis is the scenario in the Samsa household: on the surface, the official sentiments of the moms and dads and the sis toward Gregor, and of Gregor toward them and towards himself; beneath, the scary and disgust, and self-disgust: “… family responsibility needed the suppression of disgust and the exercise of patience, nothing but perseverance.” (Kafka, 65) His metamorphosis is a judgment on himself from the viewpoint of his defeated humankind. Philip Rahv has really suggestively examined the subjective meaning of the insect symbol here by showing that rather often siblings and sisters are symbolically represented in dreams as animals or bugs and that, since in this story of family life one of the underlying themes is the displacement of Samsa in the family hierarchy by his sibling, it should, on the psychological aircraft, be looked upon as, on Kafka’s part, a construct of desire and guilt ideas. (Rahv, pp. 61-62)

Gregor breaks out of his space the first time hoping that his improvement will turn out to be “rubbish”; the second time, in the course of defending at least his hope of returning to his “human past.” His 3rd eruption, in Part III, has rather a different objective. The last section of the story finds a Gregor who tries to dream again, after a long interval, of resuming his old location at the head of the family, however the figures from the past that now appear to him– his manager, the chief clerk, taking a trip salespersons, a chambermaid (“a sweet and short lived memory”), and so on– can not assist him, “they were one and all unapproachable and he was grateful when they disappeared.” (Kafka, 69) Beat, he finally gives up all hope of going back to the human neighborhood. Now his existence slopes steeply towards death. His room is now the location in which all the family’s dirty old decayed things are tossed, together with Gregor, an unclean old decayed thing; and he has actually simply stopped eating.

In the beginning he had thought he was unable to eat out of “chagrin over the state of his space” (72 ). However then he discovered that he got “increasing enjoyment” from crawling about the filth and junk. On the last night of his life, seeing from his room the lodgers whom his family have actually taken in putting away a good supper, he comes to an essential realization: “I’m starving enough,” stated Gregor regretfully to himself, “however not for that type of food. How these guests are packing themselves, and here am I dying of starvation!”(Kafka, 74) In quiting at last all hope of reentering the human circle, Gregor lastly understands the fact about his life; which is to say he accepts the knowledge of his death, for the truth about his life is his death-in-life by his banishment from the human community. But having lastly accepted the reality, he starts to notice a possibility that exists for him just in his castaway state. He is hungry enough, he understands, however not for the world’s stuff, “not for that kind of food.” (Kafka, 74)

When Gregor breaks out of his space the 3rd and last time, he is no longer trying to deceive himself about himself and return to his old life with its illusions about belonging to the human neighborhood. What draws him out of his room the last night of his life is his sis’s violin playing. Although he had actually never looked after music in his human state, now the notes of the violin attract him surprisingly. Indifferent to the others, at last he has the nerve to think of himself. The dirty starving underground animal advances onto “the pristine flooring of the living-room” where his sis is betting the three lodgers. Here Kafka makes use of the concept that music expresses the inexpressible, that it points to a surprise sphere of spiritual power and significance.

Creating in The Transformation a character who is genuine and unbelievable, loaded with significance and empty of self, Kafka encourages his readers to complete the void that exists at the center of the insect-Gregor’s self. Hence, as a reader, one can come to conclusion that Gregor’s metamorphosis is a symbol of his alienation from the human state, of his “awakening” to the complete scary of his dull, spiritless existence, and of the desperate self-disgust of his unconscious life.


Kafka, Franz (1952) Selected Short Stories of Franz Kafka. Translators Edwin Muir, Willa Muir New York City: Modern Library, 1952

Rahv, Philip. (1939 ). Franz Kafka: the Hero as Lonely Guy. The Kenyon Evaluation, I (1 )