The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The MetamorphosisAnother author long on my ‘to read’ list, Kafka delivers the goods with mastery.  While short on volume, The Metamorphosis, is long on meaning.  What stood out in this tale was the excruciating sense of isolation experienced by the protagonist.  Who hasn’t struggled with this feeling and felt secluded from humanity?  Yet our noble mien conceals our true feelings.

Kafka’s story involves a young man, the family’s breadwinner, who awakes to find he has transformed into an insect.  While he tries to accept and adapt to his new body, his true difficulties lie with his relationships within his family.

Gregor Samsa is the man who undergoes a rapid metamorphosis.  As his family views his altered state, they react with fear and disgust, at times behaving as if he were not among them.  Gregor’s feelings for his family members also go through a change whereas he initially recalls his love and devotion to them, he eventually sees them in a different light as they reject his new existence.

Gregor’s sister, Grete, is devoted to her family and enjoys playing violin.  Her initial treatment towards Gregor shows her to be empathetic to his situation.  As he remains in his new body, however, she begins to realize he can longer be counted on to support the family and must now step up to help out.  Her disillusionment is reflected in her eventual change of tone towards her brother as she begins to see him as an albatross around the family’s neck.

The charwoman is the only one in the household not disgusted by Gregor.  She accepts him as he is and even jokes around him.  Her bluntness, however, is seen as crudeness rather than sincerity and so she is treated with disdain by the Samsa family.

My inclination would be to comfort Kafka as I believe he is a tortured soul, however, I’d resist that urge as it would likely offend, rather than console him.  Somehow I’d try to get him to share his writing processes and I’d be then greatly in his debt.

My rating for The Metamorphosis is a 9 out of 10.

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Next up, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter…The Scarlet Letter

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