Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis, first published in 1915, is the most famous of Franz Kafka’s works. The story begins when a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect. Curiously, his condition does not arouse surprise in his family, who merely despise it as an impending burden. As with all of Kafka’s works, The Metamorphosis is open to a wide range of interpretations. Most obvious are themes relating to society’s treatment of those who are different, the loneliness of isolation, and the absurdity of the human condition.
This edition contains an extensive overview of both the author and the novel.
I decided to read this book because I heard it was something that all people should read in their high school English class. It wasn’t required reading in high school for me but it was for my son.
I can see why this book would make for a good discussion in a literature class. The gist of the story is a salesman, Gregor, is basically supporting his mom, dad and sister. One day he wakes up and he’s turned into a bug. He can no longer support his family and now his family is forced to figure out how they can make ends meet.
His family can’t communicate with Gregor because they no longer understand him. Along with isolating him, they are disgusted by his appearance. At this point, Gregor is basically abandoned by his family. Through this process, the reader hears Gregor’s internal turmoil over his new life.
There’s a lot of theories that can be discussed from this story – is it about dehumanizing -or – about abandonment -or- about mundaneness -or- … actually, I’m sure there are more themes than that that could be discussed in a literature class on what the meaning behind this story is. Depending on the reader’s own life experiences each reader of this story could garner a different theme for this book. No matter what the reader thinks Mr. Kafka’s purpose was for writing this story it sure would make for a fun discussion to have in a high school English class.
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