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The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Metamorphosis and Other Stories

Franz Kafka
Published in 2003 by Barnes & Noble Classics
(The Metamorphosis was first published in 1915)

Read in Oct, 2008.
My rating:

                                                                [spoiler alert]

Just my response paper for my MA course on Kafka and The Metamorphosis. I simply wrote how I felt while reading this short story. Absolutely sad and yah, Samsa's family was horrible! This story is worth more than a simple 5 star.

In the beginning of his famous novel “The Metamorphosis”, Franz Kafka comes out with a revelation, without any facade or array of complex words that, a man has turned into a bug and now let us observe how the things far as the story progresses; like we are in a stage, watching! The story, to me sounded very unrealistic at first because if we think of it in the obvious way, a person can't suddenly turn into a bug! But then again, concerning Kafka’s relationship with his own parents, or even if we just think of a person who is being cowed by someone very overbearing (in Kafka’s case, his father) can really think of him/herself as something out of this world, maybe a huge bug, evidently out of frustration and despair. Some critics have already made connections with Kafka’s familial situation with the story of “The Metamorphosis”.

With the story unfolding we find that the protagonist, Gregor Samsa one morning finds himself on his bed changed into a ‘monstrous vermin’ and he has no idea how to deal with the situation. There, I was distressed thinking myself of his situation, about how that would feel. Later on, Gregor thinks about his job, parents, his only younger sister Grete and many more things as the story develops. At first, Grete tries to take care of the ‘bug’ Gregor but at some point she tires of the job (quite natural I suppose!) and Gregor is neglected and completely alone. The most striking thing I found here is, he can’t communicate with anyone, as his voice is beyond human comprehension but he thinks and feels just like the human Gregor once did! Basically, this aspect of the novel really made me sad. It is like some person, ill and lost his/her voice, understands others but no one can understand him/her. That must feel terrible! Gregor feels apprehensive as to how his family would live, for he, the only bread winner of the family is now fully unable to do something about it. He feels ashamed that his sister would have to do that because his mother is an asthmatic and father hasn’t worked for last five years and also because, if Grete begins earning for the family she wouldn’t be able to learn violin, which would’ve made Gregor very proud. Gregor tries to get some idea of his family’s standing by listening through the keyhole of his door. Days pass by; Gregor’s family take up three lodgers in the hope of increase the family’s earnings. Gregor manages to get out of his room a few times, mostly accidentally and in one of such incidents, he gets himself seriously hurt, as his father threw apples towards him in trying to get him inside his room. One apple got stuck into his armor like back, rot in time giving way to infection. Even if that wasn’t painful enough, Grete’s betrayal in the end proves to be the last blow for him. One day, through the keyhole, he hears that the sister he loves so much mentioning him as ‘it’ and wishing ‘it’ a good riddance! She also suggests that if ‘it’ were really Gregor, ‘it’ would’ve been gone by now, letting them of their misery. In all, she asks her parents to discard the notion that the hideous bug is Gregor and remove it from their house. The pain inflicting from Grete’s words and the infection of his back, with the agony of negligence from his loved ones, Gregor bids the mean world goodbye that very night. I was speechless to find that his family was so happy with the ‘good riddance’ that they moved on with their life hastily, even thinking about finding a suitable husband for Grete. Just unbelievable! Gregor loved them deeply even as a bug, while they entirely failed to give his love back (at least appreciating the fact that before his metamorphosis Gregor was earning to provide them with a good life), which is supposed to be one of the vital human qualities.

To sum up, it is my opinion that the degraded human behavior towards anything branded as ‘non-human’, be it a bug or a snake, is obvious in this story. Although, while reading it, Kafka and his friends would laugh with the stark humor of the story, I hardly found myself laughing as I tried imagining Gregor’s ordeals followed by his sad demise.

The story simply made me depressed.


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I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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