The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

Read this in about 7 minutes
A combination of simple writing and lucid imagination is how anyone will describe Franz Kafka. Most of Kafka’s work is almost autobiographical in nature. In writing pitiful characters without any will to change their life or any throat to voice their opinion, Kafka tries to pen his life on paper. Due to an illness that takes his life, he did not see enough of his success. Metamorphosis is probably the most famous work of Franz Kafka. I will try to describe the book as aptly as I can. 

Cover page

In the book, Kafka described his character as a many-legged creature, with a domed belly and a large body. The cover image is a one shot description of the story inside. The story is about a twenty-something traveling salesman who is turned into a bug overnight. The horrific confusion and the bodily changes are seen in the image. 

Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for were coming to light.

Characters

The story revolves around Gregor Samsa. Gregor is a family man who takes up a job he does not like only because he can see a future that his family can’t. Gregor has plans for his sister that he adores. He is working day and night to support a family of four, including himself. 

He is quite happy doing so, too, until one morning he finds himself unable to move from his bed. He tries a lot but with no result. 

After some denial and later, submission, he finds himself turned into a multi-legged bug-like insect.  
He thought back on his family with deep emotion and love. His conviction that he would have to disappear was, if possible, even firmer than his sister's. He remained in this state of empty and peaceful reflection until the tower clock struck three in the morning. He still saw that outside the window everything was beginning to grow light. Then, without his consent, his head sank down to the floor, and from his nostrils streamed his last weak breath.

Content

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

This, the opening line to the novella, is probably enough to allure anyone to the book. Franz Kafka, a literary genius of his time and beyond, has drawn a parallel to his own life to that of a “dung beetle” as described by his maid.  

Gregor is the sole earning member of his family and the metamorphism affects his entire family. The entire family goes through a slow but visible change. The money to live on had to be earned now.  The content is divided into three parts. Initially they are all surprised then saddened and later try to get rid of the insect because it no longer serves them. 

The book is filled with the dark comedy, pitiful narrative and mental chaos. The content does complete justice to the title since all the changes happen slowly. What moves the reader further is the acceptance of the fate without questions and further spending the life in exile, drowned in his own sorrow, slowly pushing the life out without blaming anyone for it.  
He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone.

Language

Kafka’s work of fiction is said to be drawn from his own pitiful life. Therefore, the narration radiates melancholy. Words like “imaginings” portray the classical writing. The content is written in fragmented, short sentences. Hence making it more descriptive and easy to understand. Kafka has an uncomplicated narrating style which most of the readers will admire.
What a fate: to be condemned to work for a firm where the slightest negligence at once gave rise to the gravest suspicion! Were all the employees nothing but a bunch of scoundrels, was there not among them one single loyal devoted man who, had he wasted only an hour or so of the firm's time in the morning, was so tormented by conscience as to be driven out of his mind and actually incapable of leaving his bed?

Good points

The cover is artistic. It portrays the confusion and dark reality of the protagonist. The characters are all evolving. So is the content. The book is an easy read. Narration, again, is heart wrenching! 

Bad points

The book is filled with sadness. Those who like hero-like protagonists or happy ending will not find this one amusing. 

Overall

The book is easily one of the bests have read lately. I already have bought a copy for my keeping. This one adds to my library.

Who do I recommend this to

For the readers who like a simple short book and do not shy away from surreal realism, this book awaits!

Quotable quotes

The door could not be heard slamming; they had probably left it open, as is the custom in homes where a great misfortune has occurred.
“If I didn't have my parents to think about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him everything I would, let him know just what I feel. He'd fall right off his desk! And it's a funny sort of business to be sitting up there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there, especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is hard of hearing.”
He had always believed that his father had not been able to save a penny from the business, at least his father had never told him anything to the contrary, and Gregor, for his part, had never asked him any questions. In those days Gregor's sole concern had been to do everything in his power to make the family forget as quickly as possible the business disaster which had plunged everyone into a state of total despair. And so he had begun to work with special ardor and had risen almost overnight from stock clerk to traveling salesman, which of course had opened up very different money-making possibilities, and in no time his successes on the job were transformed, by means of commissions, into hard cash that could be plunked down on the table at home in front of his astonished and delighted family. Those had been the wonderful times, and they had never returned, at least not with the same glory, although later on Gregor earned enough money to meet the expenses of the entire family and actually did so. They had just gotten used to it, the family as well as Gregor, the money was received with thanks and given with pleasure, but no special feeling of warmth went with it any more. 
However, Gregor had become much calmer. All right, people did not understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to him, clearer than previously, perhaps because had gotten used to them.
Gregor’s serious wound, from which he suffered for over a month - the apple remained imbedded in his flesh as a visible souvenir since no one dared to remove it - seemed to have reminded even his father that Gregor was a member of the family, in spite of his present pathetic and repulsive shape, who could not be treated as an enemy; that, on the contrary, it was the commandment of the family duty to swallow their disgust and endure him, endure him and nothing more.
It seemed remarkable to Gregor that above all the various noises of eating their chewing teeth could still be heard, as if they had wanted to show Gregor that you need teeth in order to eat and it was not possible to perform anything with jaws that are toothless however nice they might be.
Now, quite apart from the fact that the doors were locked, should he really call out for help? In spite of all his distress, he was unable to suppress a smile at this idea.