Which word choices used to describe Gregor's appearance following the transformation can be considered to have positive and negative connotations?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his introduction to The Metamorphosis, Stanley Corngold states that Gregor, the "garguatuan pest" expresses what it is to be a writer. It is a surrealitic dream that determines Gregor Samsa's essence that comes after his existence, an inversion of existential thought in which essence precedes existence. For, it is only after his death that Gregor's family develop as individuals., especially his sister, who becomes a "lovely girl." The father again assumes his role as head of the family, the mother is renewed in life and the daughter has prospects now.Their renaissance is due only to Gregor's death.

Because Gregor must become something that is reviled in order for the other family members to experience a rebirth, much of the description of Gregor's metamorphosis into what the charwoman calls a "dungbeetle," has negative connotations. 

  • Negative Connotations

Chapter I

"gargantuan pest,"  "hard-armored back," "Lamentably thin legs," "wriggling legs," "itchy area,"  Gregor's voice has "irrepressibly painful squeals," he moves with "excessive painful agitation"

Chapter II

Gregor's little legs "buzzed as if they themselves were about to eat"; later, his injured leg "dragged listlessly behind"

Chapter III

The cleaning woman calls Gregor "that old dung beetle"

  • Favorable Connotations

Chapter I

"new girth," "small white spots," "this limb," his small legs only danced," "diminutive legs"

Chapter II

Gregor "crawled up and down in his room"

Chapter III

When the cleaning woman arrives on Gregor's final day, she finds him dead, but believes he is lying motionless since his feelings have been hurt, and she credits him with "unlimited intelligence."

Read the study guide:
The Metamorphosis

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