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The Metamorphosis
By Franz Kafka

Main Characters

Gregor Samsa - Man who supported his family but mysteriously turned into a roach one day.

Grete Samsa - The sister of the roach man who fed and took care of the roach.

Herr Samsa - The father of the roach who had to return to work when his son couldn’t.

Frau Samsa - The mother of the roach who had to return to work when her son couldn’t.

Minor Characters

lodgers - Disrespectful people that rented rooms in the Samsa flat.

charwoman - Cleaning lady who first found Gregor dead.

Settings

Gregor’s room - Gregor is locked up here and not allowed to roam about around the other rooms of the house.

Dining room - The rest of the family spends most of its time here talking and eating.

Plot

The story begins with Gregor waking up in bed and finding out that he’s just turned into a vermin, probably a roach.  Despite his state, Gregor feels that he can still go to work.  However, he proves unable to do this when he finds he has so much trouble getting out of bed and opening the door.  Furthermore, no one can understand him. Gregor’s employer who had come to Gregor’s house to fetch him to work, leaves in a very nervous state and Gregor worries about losing his job.  His family, however, cannot believe that the bug is Gregor and shoves him back into his room when Gregor tries to step out badly bruising Gregor.  Gregor returns to his room and goes to sleep.  The family is now faced with the problem of the lack of money since Gregor was the only member of the family that worked.  Luckily, the father had saved some money which the family would be able to live off of for about a year.  Also each member of the family got a job.  Herr got a job at the bank, Frau got a job knitting lingerie, and Grete got a job as a store clerk.  In the meantime, the only person who enters the room is Grete who comes by and feeds Gregor twice a day.  After time, the maid was fired and a charwoman was hired to do the cleaning.  Also, the Samsa’s took up three lodgers to help pay the rent on the flat.  These lodgers, however, did not know about Gregor.  One night after dinner, Grete began playing the violin which lured Gregor out into the dining room.  The lodgers caught sight of him and Herr pushed them into their room out of sight of Gregor.  The lodgers threatened to leave without paying.  Gregor was pushed back into his own room.  Early next morning, the charwoman came to clean and found Gregor dead in his room.  She told the rest of the family.  Herr ordered the lodgers out of his house.  The entire family then wrote letters to their employers requesting a day off to relax.  They then took a train trip where the Samsa’s realized that it was about time that Grete got married.

Symbols

hospital - This symbolizes help which was so near for Gregor and yet so far.

music - This symbolizes the universal communication that Gregor could have had with his sister.

lodgers - This symbolizes the lack of control that the Samsa family had over their situation.

Style

 Kafka’s style is simple and matter of factly.  The fact that Gregor turned into a bug did not seem to shock Gregor very much making this an interesting contrast to the families reaction.  The omnipotent third person leaves some things out such how Gregor turned into a bug in order to keep the matter of fact style of the story.

Dominant Philosophy

 Gregor’s state before he turned into a bug contrasts with the family’s state after the got jobs and began working.  This suggests the Kafka is trying to say that we shouldn’t work like bugs for others leaving out time for ourselves as Gregor had but instead work for ourselves with pride and dignity as the family did at the end of the story.

Quotes

Page 538 “As Gregor Samsa awake one morning from a troubled dream, he found himself changed in his bed to some monstrous kind of vermin.”  The narrator says this about how Gregor found out he was a bug.

Page 539 “The next train went at seven; to catch it he must hurry madly, and his collection of samples was not packed;”  The narrator says this describing how Gregor, despite being a bug, still wants to go to work.”

Page 577 “He’s lying there, absolutely dead as a doornail.”  The charwoman says this to the rest of the family announcing Gregor’s death.

Page 577 “We can thank God for that!”  Herr Samsa says this in response to the news that his son just died.