The Metamorphosis Article

Posted May 19, 2021 by joannawebster

The novel is about the transformation of a kind and sensitive human into a disgusting bug. Kafka describes the structure of Gregor's new body, his new experience of the inconveniences, pleasures and new tastes in great detail.

The novel is about the transformation of a kind and sensitive human into a disgusting bug. Kafka describes the structure of Gregor's new body, his new experience of the inconveniences, pleasures and new tastes in great detail. The loss of humanity occurs in the chitin shell; the author describes it with the biological accuracy, which is not inherent in the fairy tale. First, Gregor loses the ability to speak, and then, one by one, his spiritual features. At the same time, in his new, scary and disgusting shape he is still much more human than the members of his family.
The depth of what is going on further amazes the imagination and raises the relevant 20th century problem of human existence in the community which is not able to accept it. The very fact of human transformation into an insect, announced in a classical narrative way at the beginning of the story, causes the feeling of aesthetic shock not because the situation seems too implausible, but because the idea of human-sized insect itself unwittingly causes a feeling of physical aversion. The images created by the author seem provocative precisely due to their demonstrative unaesthetic manner that is typical for postmodernism.
If we imagine a similar situation in real everyday life, the behavior of other people and all subsequent events will be also similar. More surprising is the way how easily the author speaks about the everyday domestic inconveniences that the hero and his relatives undergo from the very moment of transformation. Kafka tells us about it using such dry, concise and accurate language that the reader sometimes even forgets about the incredible fact that formed the basis of the story.
Gregor is isolated in his room and suffers a lot (Kafka describes every detail of his internal state and emotions). Being turned into an insect, he remains human in his mind and opportunity to feel. Gregor's transformation has completely changed the habitual life of the family; each member has turned away from Gregor and started to neglect him. Even his sister, who had treated him with sympathy at first, after a month, became as cruel and arrogant as the rest.
Despite the fact that no one is interested in his emotional state and that the only feelings he invokes are hate and disgust, Gregor is still thinking about his family with tenderness and love. Since no one, including Gregor`s sister, could understand him, they did not even guess that he still has the ability to understand them. Thus, he understood his father`s hint correctly when the latter mentioned that Gregor's death would be a great relief for them, so he ignored food and died of exhaustion. This detail refers to the existential worldview, which states that the circumstances and the choice determine the whole human existence.
With a stunning psychological depth, Kafka draws the contemporary middle class, where natural feelings and Christian impulses are struggling with disgust and hate for the one who ruins their casual life, forced to look for work, to take in lodgers, and what is more important to conceal a terrible family secret. The phenomenon that took place in the Samsa family had never happened before, so Gregor was the one to blame for the conversion. The story is based on the image of slightest changing of feelings inside the family.
Incredibly enough, Gregor`s family received the news about his death with relief. They considered him as an insect only and he was thrown away like other garbage. It is not only the callousness with which Gregor's family accepted his death that amazes, but their further actions. As if nothing had happened, they are making plans for the future, discussing Greta's marriage. His death is an exemption for the family, which now has an opportunity to improve their affairs of employment, and finally change the apartment for a cheaper and more convenient one. No one regrets that Gregor is dead, and nobody thinks about why such a misfortune has happened to him.
The novel can be interpreted in different ways with the world of a story containing several worlds: the outer world, the business world in which Gregor is reluctantly involved, the one that affects the welfare of the family and Gregors world. The second world is the world of the family, the closed space of the Samsa apartment, who are struggling to preserve a semblance of normality. The first two are openly hostile to a third one, which is the central world of the novel, and it is based on the materialized nightmare. The inner Gregors world develops the action of the novel in accordance with the laws of strict rationalism, but Kafka imperceptibly transforms rationalism into the madness of absurdity, which is contrary to any moral principles. "Metamorphosis" is a concrete sensuous personification of the mental characteristics of a man. The commonness considered as a mystical nightmare and the reception of estrangement has been brought to the highest degree. His absurd hero lives in an absurd world, but struggles in a touching and tragic way, trying to break into the world of normal people, and dies in despair and humiliation. The novel is a transparent realistic narrative, but in fact, it is organized on the illogical, capricious principles of dreams; the author's consciousness created a highly individual myth. It is a myth that cannot be associated with any classical mythology; the myth that does not need any classical tradition or amoral, and yet, it is a myth, the form of which can be generated only by the contemporary consciousness of the twentieth century.
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Last Updated May 19, 2021