Is Gregor really a bug in The Metamorphosis?

Readers cannot know for sure whether Gregor has actually turned into a giant insect in The Metamorphosis or whether it has happened only in his mind. The third-person limited narrator tells us Gregor's thoughts and feelings, so it is difficult to ascertain whether the information that the narrator reveals is objectively observable to anyone or whether it is only Gregor's perception. Either way, however, Gregor believes that he is a bug, and his life is forever changed.

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Gregor himself certainly believes that he has really turned into a giant bug. The narrator describes things—such as the brown liquid that comes out of Gregor's mouth, the sticky substance that his body leaves behind on the walls, his ability to crawl on the walls, and his tiny legs and...

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Gregor himself certainly believes that he has really turned into a giant bug. The narrator describes things—such as the brown liquid that comes out of Gregor's mouth, the sticky substance that his body leaves behind on the walls, his ability to crawl on the walls, and his tiny legs and barrel-shaped body—as though they are real and literal.

However, the narrator is also of the third-person limited variety, giving us insight into Gregor's thoughts and feelings; thus, Gregor perceives himself as an actual bug. This narrative perspective, then, could be skewed by Gregor's own ideas about his body and experiences. It is difficult to tell whether the narrator is stating what is objectively visible to anyone or what is subjectively happening in Gregor's own mind.

It is possible, of course, that Gregor only thinks that he has been transformed into a huge insect. To his family, then, he would continue look like his human self, but he would be acting as though he is a giant bug, scurrying around on all fours and making strange sounds with his mouth. This sight could be so grotesque that they would be utterly horrified. They would likely respond to this sight similarly to how they would respond to seeing an actual giant bug. Either way, however, whether he truly is a giant bug or not, he believes that he is, and his life is ruined by it.

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