Monday, 6 December 2010
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Gregor Samsa awoke in his bed one morning from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic insect (or ‘monstrous vermin’ depending on which translation you read)
Poor Gregor! As if life isn’t bad enough being worked half to death as a lowly travelling salesman desperately trying to pay his family’s debts without waking up as a giant bug.
But God bless him, Gregor doesn’t give up. If only he could learn to control all his legs which all seem to be moving on their own accord while he is trapped on his back. If he could only manage to get onto his front he is sure he would only miss a couple of days work.
Of course a man turning into an insect is ridiculous, surreal and absurd, the whole situation is funny. Gregor is bizarrely accepting of his condition and it is his family and other people he encounters that has issues with his appearance. When it dawns on Gregor that he will never lead a normal life again, instead staying confined to his room and becoming a burden on his already stressful family, the story takes a sadder turn.
The family’s reactions to Gregors situation as first seem understandable. But as they start to blame Gregor for their financial predicament they now find themselves in and the fact that they are now unable to move to a smaller house because of the logistics of moving Gregor, their attitude towards Gregor become one of disgust and cruelty. It’s a hopeless situation and can only end one way...
Due to the simple narrative and the nature of the Metamorphosis it is not surprising that the meaning behind the story has been debated ever since its publication and I am sure that any literature student will have a field day with it.
While I read it for the pure enjoyment of it rather than looking into anything too deeply, it did leave me with one question. Why did the family seem better off upon Gregors death than they were when Gregor was alive? This of course leads me to other questions such as was Gregors martyr-like existence in supporting his entire family before his predicament actually detrimental to his family in some way? I am sure questions like this will spin around in my head for evermore.
Would I recommend this? If you’re only going to read one thing by Kafka, why not make it The metamorphosis his most famous work? It’s also worth mentioning that I downloaded this free on the kindle so if anyone has an electronic reader it’s certainly worth getting.
Posted by Jess
Final verdict 4/5