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The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

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What's the point of Kafka's novella?

The Metamorphosis is a story about Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one morning to discover that he has turned into an enormous bug. His family does not take it well at first, but they slowly get used to Gregor's new form and life goes on as normal. The story is mostly about how Gregor deals with his transformation. The novella also explores the value of humanity and self.

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In the story “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, several points are made to the readers, such as the importance of self and humanity. 

Foremost, in the story, Gregor’s reaction to his metamorphosis illustrates the importance of self. Prior to Gregor’s transformation, Gregor’s focus and purpose in life is to work to support his family. Due to this tremendous pressure, Gregor fails to care for himself; thus, Gregor’s value of himself is debased. Subsequently, after the transformation, he does not respond with panic or anxiety, but remains focused on work. As his thoughts reveal: 

“what a demanding job I’ve chosen! Day in, day out on the road. The stresses of trade are much greater than the work going on at head office, and, in addition to that, I have to deal with the problems of traveling, the worries about train connections, irregular bad food, temporary and constantly changing human relationships which never come from the heart.”

Furthermore, the novella also illustrates the importance of humanity and human interaction. After becoming a bug, Gregor spends most of his time in solitude in his room. As a result, he feels isolated and alone. Although he does not want to be a burden to his family, he also craves human interaction throughout the story. As the text reveals:

“Later, however, they had to hold her [Gregor's mother] back forcefully, and when she then cried ‘Let me go to Gregor. He’s my unlucky son! Don’t you understand that I have to go to him?’ Gregor then thought that perhaps it would be a good thing if his mother came in, not every day, of course, but maybe once a week.”

Consequently, the novella illustrates multiple points. However, the events and perspectives revealed throughout the story repeatedly show the value of self and humanity. Although Gregor cares for his family throughout the story, he fails to care for himself and soon becomes debased and dehumanized. His lack of human interaction further encourages his dehumanization and leaves him isolated.

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