What is the plot overview of Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"?


Quick Answer

"The Metamorphosis," by Franz Kafka, details the ordeal of Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who awakens one morning as a grotesque, giant insect. Divided into three parts, the novella describes the dehumanizing effect the transformation has on Gregor as he becomes an unwelcome burden on his family and eventually dies.

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Full Answer

Before he recognizes that he has been transformed into an insect, Gregor is bored and annoyed by his job and supervisor. He feels marginalized and unappreciated, but he also feels obligated to provide for his parents and sister. As an insect, he is helpless and unable to communicate. At first, his sister tries to care for him, but she gradually becomes apathetic and resentful. From the beginning, his mother is terrified and his father is violent toward him.

Over time, the family's finances worsen, so they take on three boarders, and Gregor is imprisoned in his cluttered room. He is sick, injured and isolated. One day, Gregor overhears his family discussing plans to get rid of him. He returns to his room and dies, and the cleaning lady disposes of his corpse. The story ends with an epilogue that shows Gregor's relieved family discussing their improved finances and prospects.

Kafka wrote "The Metamorphosis" in 1912. The novella is often compared to Kafka's earlier work, "The Judgement," due to similarities in the characters and conflicts. Like many of Kafka's stories, "The Metamorphosis" contains themes of an angry, violent father, a weak mother, and a protagonist who is despondent, disillusioned and conflicted.

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