The Metamorphosis By Franz Kafka

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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka


The Metamorphosis is constructed in three acts, each involving an escape by Gregor from his room and a return to it. With each retreat, Gregor becomes noticeably less human and more accepting of his transformative state. With each act, Gregor also becomes physically weaker. As his family abandons its denial of his insectlike appearance and their hope for his full recovery to a normal human condition, they gradually become indifferent to his fate and recognize their need to pursue their lives without him. His father returns to work, his mother learns to operate the house without the help of a maid, even adding the burden of taking in boarders, and his sister assumes the responsibilities of adulthood. Where once he was the center of their lives, he now becomes an unnecessary burden and an embarrassment (Eggenschwiler, 54).


The horror of a tale about a man who transforms into an insect is heightened by Kafka's literary style: a matter-of-fact tone laced with mordant humor. The fact that Gregor initially greets his metamorphosis with a chilling calm suggests that he previously saw himself as verminlike, as somebody who was already less than human. This internal lack of self-esteem and the insecurities it produces are heightened by the change in his body. One of the major problems to reading The Metamorphosis is accepting Gregor's transformation as literal and not merely symbolic; he has really turned into an insect. The strangeness of that fact, along with his and his family's reactions to it, is what makes the narrative so fascinating and rich in interpretative possibilities (Eggenschwiler, 55).


The power of Franz Kafka's fiction relies primarily on the uncanny ways he captured the alienation of twentieth century life. Denied the saving grace of religious belief, skeptical of the achievements of modern science, and leery ...
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