The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

16 Jun

So, I’m taking this English Literature class to fill my humanities requirement. The long title of the class is Literary Perspectives on the Modern World. Sounds funs, right? I think so. We’re only on day three, but I think I’ll like it. We’re reading several books that I’ve always wanted to read, but never quite got around to, like A Clockwork Orange and Slaughterhouse Five.

Anyway, for the last two days we’ve been discussing The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I already wrote several of my thoughts in a Goodreads review, but it got really long. So I’m putting my next point here.

We spent a huge portion of the two hour class today debating whether Gregor did in fact turn into a bug or if he had some mental illness along the lines of schizophrenia. There are strong cases for both, as we quickly learned. I could tell you which side of the fence I fell on and support it pretty soundly. But in truth, I think it’s more important to realize that it just doesn’t matter. It’s beside the point of the story and I hope that’s not forgotten amidst the debate.

Spoiler warning: Stop now, if you want to be surprised.

In my opinion, the story is almost entirely about the family; their relationships, roles within the unit, actions, the consequences of those actions, etc. It’s about laziness, selfishness, greed, growth, sacrifice, and much more. Whether Gregor is crazy or a bug, the story unfolds the same. His incapacity to work suddenly brings out all the problems that have been lying in wait beneath the pond’s surface and forces the family to act on them.

There are so many poignant themes in the story, that I think it’s impossible to read without a great sense of tragedy. But it’s not Gregor’s state that brings on those emotions for the reader, it’s the family situations and reactions. And the fact that the story continues after Gregor’s death only emphasizes this further. If the main point of the story were Gregor’s life as a bug or his mental illness, it would have ended with his death. But it didn’t. It went on to tell us about the family and their new outlook on the future.

So, is he crazy or an insect? It doesn’t matter.


Posted by on 2010/06/16 in Books, School


5 responses to “The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  1. Lua

    2010/06/17 at 03:06

    Great point! I agree, it doesn’t make any difference weather if he’s mentally ill or a bug- it brings us to the same point… The story is about how the relationships change once Gregor’s circumstances are altered

  2. Tonya

    2010/07/14 at 15:12

    This is a great analysis of the story! Do you have it? I also read your review on Goodreads and I already have a lot to say, but figured I better read it first.

    Final thought to leave you with…if you WERE a bug, what kind of bug would you be? 🙂

    • Candice Beever

      2010/07/23 at 19:10

      Sorry, I didn’t respond sooner. I normally don’t check unless I get an email notification, which for some reason, I didn’t. I do indeed have the story. You can borrow it if you’d like, as long as you don’t mind my scribbles in the margins. I’m curious to hear what you have to say just from reading my reviews.

      I’d be a lady bug of course. And you?

      • Tonya

        2010/08/26 at 16:01

        One with lots and lots of appendages. World of the working mom, I certainly could use a few more.

        Oh and I haven’t finished the story yet. Not sure if I will, kind of a slow read, 2 pages on getting out of bed, I’m out! haha. Maybe I’ll try again at a later date. 🙂

      • CB

        2010/08/26 at 23:23

        Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have read it if not for my classes. It’s a bit dry.


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