Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Book In 3 Sentences

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis depicts the transition of a man, Gregor Samsa, from human to insect and the complications he and his family faces in his new form. This novella is extremely short but is filled with symbolism of change, alienation and maturity who interpretation is up to the reader as no real explanation is given. In order for the maturity and prosperity of the family to occur, Gregor had to undergo complete alienation and retrogress into nothing going from primary breadwinner to a liability and burden.

My 411

This book took me to a dark place but is still an incredible read that made me think about many ways to interpret the story. The book was written in such a way that one can, to some degree, relate to the main self-less character who after going through the tragic transformation is considered a liability to his family.

The book captivates and then leaves the reader with so many unanswered questions such as "what caused the transformation?", "why didn't the parents ask for help from the hospital?", "why did the family not show more empathy?". No wonder this book is considered a classic!


Main Transformations

Character Details
Gregory Transformation to an insect is symbolic of alientation as Gregory is the primary breadwinner and his family is dependent on him for it but eventually isn't considered a family member even from his initially caring sister, Grete.
Grete Gregory's sister who was initially incredily caring, protecting and loving of him after his transition to an insect eventually deems him a pest and a deterent to the happiness of his family. She matures into a talented, beautiful and caring woman from an immature kid who is ready to get married off. The backstabbing of Grete was the final straw for Gregory who starved himself to death after she rejects him completely.
Mr. Samsa Initially a man who has seen better days, Mr. Samsa is a lazy man who is debt that Gregory is paying off. After Gregory's transformation, Mr. Samsa regains his position as the man of the house parading in his uniform (and even sleeping in it).

Interpretation 1: Liability in the Family

  1. Gregory could be symbolic of a family member who suddenly develops a incapacitating chronic disease or has an accident that prevents him from supporting the family as before.
  2. The reaction of the family is to initially deal with the shock, then garner as much acceptance as they can stomach but only to the point where their existence isn't affected.
  3. After a certain tipping point, the once breadwinner can also be treated like a liability.

Interpretation 2: A Fever Dream of The Alienation By Desperately Trying to Get Acceptance From Your Family

  1. Gregory is the primary breadwinner and does so tirelessly and selflessly: a compelling example of this is when he wakes up after he transforms into an insect, he is more concerned about getting to work on time rather than his current state.
  2. His selfless state has alienated him from his family as they are so dependent on him.
  3. "Gregor didn’t fight his death; he accepted it because he knew it would benefit his family, a family that couldn’t live with his burden any longer. This final acceptance is realized in Gregor’s last thoughts before death, “The decision that he must disappear was one that he held even more strongly than his sister, if that were possible,”"


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