The Metamorphosis Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Metamorphosis

Gregor Samsa, the breadwinner of his family, has worked five years as a travelling salesman in order to pay off his parent's debts and allow his family to enjoy life. However, he wakes up one day transformed inexplicitly into a giant insect, and gets increasingly alienated from his family.
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Met with horror, repulsion, and grudging love from his family for this strange turn of events, this short story shows the slow degeneration of these feelings into a more brutal conclusion. Gregor increasingly becomes a burden to his family who found jobs in order to keep up the family's finances, and having outlived his usefulness he is relegated to being locked in his room and fed by his sister, who gradually forgets the brother who so loved her and begins to treat Gregor the insect as a hateful object.
The review of this Book prepared by Yuffie.K

Gregor wakes up and finds himself turned into a bug. The major theme of this story is alienation, not only from the human society experienced by the main character, but also from his family, which only needed him for monetary support.
The review of this Book prepared by irina

In 1912 Prague, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find he has turned into a large beetle. Employed as a traveling salesman, he has been the sole support for his family, but of course he can't go to work now. Apart from their fear and disgust, his family does its best to pretend nothing has happened: his retired father goes back to work, they take in lodgers, and his 17-year-old sister Grete takes a job as well as feeding the creature in their apartment. Kafka's spare, simple language conveys the horror of a situation in which a sensitive, thoughtful creature is surrounded by vulgarians interested only in the material side of life. Gregor's beetlehood distorts and degrades his body, but brings out all his humanity, while his family turn out to be the real spiritual insects. Wrote Nabokov, "If Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis' strikes anyone as something more than an entomological fantasy, then I congratulate him on having joined the ranks of good and great readers."
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

This is not a horror story, but it is the story of the horror of a man who, asleep in bed in the family home, wakes to find that overnight he has turned into a beetle. He retains the mind and soul of a man but in his repulsive form the family confine him to the bedroom. The story is told entirely from the beetle's viewpoint - not so much in the 'first person' as in the 'first beetle'. He has to get up to go to work, he is the only wage-earner in the family; yet he cannot go, trapped in bed on his back, his little legs waving in the air. The vividness of the prose, even in translation, makes you feel that this would no doubt be exactly what it would be like for a man to live in the body of a beetle. Kafka's work has excited much critical comment from the literary world, who have published whole books discussing it's symbolism.

The true horror of the story is how quickly the family adjust to this waking nightmare. As he no longer supplies all their needs, they must act. They take in lodgers. He sees his father, previously declining into his dotage after his business crashed leaving humiliating debts, pull himself together and get a modest job. His mother, ever too ill to work, finds strength to take in skilled hand-embroidery work at home. His sister, the best of the three and a delicate young lily with ambition to be a violinist, gets secretarial work and blossoms into a young woman.

A certain habit of mind will cause the reader to try to categorise the story as science fiction, yet this will not do: the story is as far from sci-fi as you can get. The Fly had a genetic matter-transmat accident. The Hulk had a radiation accident. Captain Kirk had a transporter beam accident. No such event is offered here to 'suage the imagination. (Yet categorised it has to be, so here it is in the sf/fantasy section.) It is fantastical, but it is not fantasy. In a Greek legend there would be a disgruntled sorceress to bewitch the man. It is not a dream (that over-worked cliché), he starts by waking from his dreams. It is a sober realist story of a horror. But why should we suspend our disbelief? Here is the story's fatal weakness - there is no reason in or for the transformation, nor any sop to the intellect. There is no moral to the tale. It is meaningless and it goes nowhere. The universe is not so arbitrary and idiotic as this, else how would we able to read the stories, let alone write them?
The review of this Book prepared by Michael JR Jose

Chapter Analysis of The Metamorphosis

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 10%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 10%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 50% Tone of book    -   depressing/sad FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy story on current Earth Inner Struggle    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   change of heart Lifeform altered?    -   Yes Kind of alteration:    -   Magically turned into another being    -   Scientifically turned into another lifeform Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Cultural problems, alien culture    -   Yes Culture clash-    -   feelings as an alien growing up among humans

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   business executive Age:    -   20's-30's


Earth setting:    -   20th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog    -   little dialog

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Franz Kafka Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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