The Metamorphosis, originally published in 1915, is a novella written by Franz Kafka . The story follows Gregor Samsa, a salesman who awakes one day to discover that he has been transformed into a giant insect. Notably, Kafka doesn't explain why Gregor's transformation happens; Gregor was simply human one...
The Metamorphosis, originally published in 1915, is a novella written by Franz Kafka. The story follows Gregor Samsa, a salesman who awakes one day to discover that he has been transformed into a giant insect. Notably, Kafka doesn't explain why Gregor's transformation happens; Gregor was simply human one day and an insect the next. Susan Bernofsky translates the story's first sentence as follows:
When Gregor Samsa woke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed right there in his bed into some sort of monstrous insect.
Many critics and literary analysts argue that Kafka left the reason for the transformation unspecified to encourage readers to come up with their own conclusions, forcing them to think about their own lives and reevaluate what it means to pursue happiness. However, there are also several facets of Gregor's life that might help explain why he transforms into an insect specifically, as opposed to any other creature.
From the very beginning, it is clear that Gregor is unhappy in his life; he is unsatisfied with his job as a salesman and feels that his family doesn't really care for him as a person, though they rely on his income. He becomes a bit apathetic and starts to believe that he is living a life without meaning. Perhaps this is why his transformation into a bug doesn't seem to truly surprise or bother him; he seems to take this mysterious transformation in stride, adapting to his new form and, at some points, even feeling relieved that doesn't have to go to work anymore and that his family now has to take care of him.
In this way, Kafka seems to suggest that Gregor already feels like an insect mentally. His emotions and opinions don't really matter; all he has to do is go to work in order to provide for his family and then go home and repeat the process all over again. He feels like a slave to society, another cog in the industrial machine, and deep down, he knows this might never change. Thus, Gregor's physical transformation into a bug can be interpreted as a reflection of his mental state and, more specifically, his lack of self-worth.