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‘I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.’ The preceding quote is an excerpt from Franz Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’ which is an absurdist fiction novella about Gregor, a salesman, who unexpectedly transforms into an enormous parasite one morning. ‘The Metamorphosis’ is an allegoric story that is representative of human connection or the lack thereof in society. Moreover, it integrates various diverse themes like alienation, dehumanization, and sacrifice which elucidates that Gregor’s transformation is equally a metaphorical transformation as it is a physical one.

The book is intersected into three sections, and the author commences the first section of the book with this line ‘As Gregor Samson awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect”. He gradually starts to become acquainted with his new body while stressing out about how he is going to get to work. His family realized that something was unusual because Gregor’s voice sounded different when he answered their calls and as a result, started knocking on his door aggressively. His boss arrives and expresses his disappointment in Gregor in regards to his tardiness. Gregor attempts to talk to his boss to clarify the reasons why he was not able to come to work but ends up opening the door and revealing himself whilst forgetting that he is now transformed into a gigantic insect. Gregor’s attempt at speaking eventuates in shocking and frightening away his boss and his family. Therefore, he goes back into his room.

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From that day on, Gregor leads a lonesome and monotonous life. He started finding comfort in crawling up the walls, hiding under the couch, and hanging from the ceiling. He no longer liked to eat fresh foods but instead preferred rotten foods that his sister, Grete, brought into the room. He started hiding under a sheet to make it easier for her to tend to her responsibilities when she came into the room. Over time, taking care of Gregor started to feel more like a nuisance to his family, and they started doing it less vigilantly. One day, his mom and his sister decided to move the furniture to make it easier for him to crawl, but that was not what he wanted. He could not help but think about whether they were doing it to make themselves feel better about the minimal effort they put into taking care of him or if they wanted him to feel more comfortable. He spots his poster of the lady and the muff, and he places himself over it, so they are unable to grab it. The sight of his body shocks his mother and causes her to faint, which urges Gregor to panic. His father gets back home and realizes what has happened and that leads him to throw apples at Gregor eventually injuring his back.

Another month passes by while Gregor is in recovery from his back injury and he could not help but feel neglected by his family who is always exhausted due to the jobs they have picked up. They also took on three lodgers as an additional source of income. One night, his sister was playing the violin for the lodgers, Gregor heard this and was instantly captivated by the music, and that led him to peek out the door. He found the lodgers looking bored and suddenly found himself crawling out of the room to get closer to the music. The lodgers spotted him in the corner, and they instantly felt disgusted and announced that they were leaving without paying for the time they had spent in the apartment so far. This distressed his family, and they quickly voiced their frustration with him, making it clear that they only think of him as a creature that they feel obligated to take care of. Gregor sorrowfully returned to his room and thought about how much love he had for his family until he passed away. Though the family was initially feeling a little bit of sadness when they found out that Gregor had passed, it faded away quickly when they realized that they no longer had to take care of him. They felt like a weight was lifted off of their shoulders, and they were so happy that they started thinking of finding a husband for Grete to marry.

‘The Metamorphosis’ is an allegoric story with complex symbolism that carries a plethora of different themes like alienation, sacrifice, dehumanization, and the burden of responsibility. The theme of alienation is most prevalent in the novella as we see how Gregor’s transformation and his inability to communicate isolate him from his family. They automatically assumed that he could not understand them even though he could and as a result started perceiving him as less of a human and more like a parasite. Metamorphosis is indeed a thought-provoking read that a reader needs to analyze to understand its true brilliance. The author managed to turn an absurd story into a cataclysmic metaphor and even though his words are stupefying it’s what you experience while reading that makes it such a remarkable read. 

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