illustration of a giant insect with the outline of a man in a suit standing within the confines of the insect

The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

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Part 1, Division 1
1. Write an essay showing the kinds of details Kafka uses to establish Gregor’s life before his metamorphosis into an insect. How do these familiar details and objects define Gregor’s character and life?

2. As soon as the chief clerk arrives in the Samsa apartment, Gregor reacts with alarm and fear. Write an essay explaining why Gregor stands in such fear of this man, who seems to be nothing more than the chief’s messenger.

Part 1, Division 2
1. The relationship between Gregor and his father is at the core of the story. Write an essay describing this relationship both before and after Gregor’s metamorphosis.

2. During much of this part of the story, we get to learn a lot about Gregor’s inner life—his thoughts and feelings. Write an essay describing Gregor’s private thoughts and emotions, and explain how these thoughts and feelings express his attitude toward his family and the outside world.

Part 2, Division 1
1. Grete’s character undergoes a dramatic change in this section. Trace the changes in her character in an essay that highlights the changes in her attitude, character, and personality.

2. Gregor’s furniture is very dear to him and he becomes very upset when Grete and her mother start to remove it from his room. Write a detailed essay explaining why Gregor feels he cannot part with his furniture.

Part 2, Division 2
1. The picture of the woman wrapped in furs on Gregor’s wall is something that he refuses to part with. Write an essay showing the importance of this picture in Gregor’s life and, if possible, try to explain its symbolic meaning.

2. In this section of the story, Gregor’s sense of guilt is highlighted. Write an essay exploring the different things Gregor feels guilty about, and show how his lingering guilt affects his state of mind and his feelings toward his family.

Part 3, Division 1
1. It is clear from the outset of Part 3 that Gregor is dying. Write an essay explaining just how much of his physical decline is his own doing, and how much of it is caused by outside factors.

2. The three bearded lodgers who come into the story are intentionally made to be mysterious and anonymous. Use this section of the story to explain your thoughts and feelings about these three men. In your essay, consider the following factors: why they have no names, no distinguishing qualities or characteristics, no profession or background.

Part 3, Division 2
1. The theme of physical decay and illness is a prominent theme in the story. Write an essay tracing Gregor’s physical decline from the beginning of Part 3, Division 2, until his death.

2. Write a paper in which you contrast Gregor’s state of mind at the beginning of this section to right before his death. What incidents or events cause a change in Gregor’s attitude and thinking? Are Gregor’s thoughts rational and clear, or are they blurred and irrational?

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