Add my review
- One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.
- "Father, Mother", said his sister, hitting the table with her hand as introduction, "we can't carry on like this. Maybe you can't see it, but I can. I don't want to call this monster my brother, all I can say is: we have to try and get rid of it. We've done all that's humanly possible to look after it and be patient, I don't think anyone could accuse us of doing anything wrong."
- And, as if in confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions, as soon as they reached their destination Grete was the first to get up and stretch out her young body.
The Metamorphosis is a story of a metaphor. Gregor Samsa is a young man working hard to support his family: his frail mother, his apparently equally frail but agressive father and his dear small sister. Suddenly, one morning, when he was actually supposed to take the train to travel for a sales trip, he wakes up only to realize that he has been changed into a giant insect.
From that moment, all the characters are part of the story. I will even go so far as to say that there are six main protagonists in the story. Gregor Samsa, his mother, his sister, his father but also the narrator and the reader. Since the narrator is supposed to be neutral, it's up to the reader to decide the emotions of the scenes and subsequently the morale of the story.
A TRUE STORY?
To understand the story, you must know that Franz Kafka had a very difficult relationship with his own family - he hated his strict father and depicts the appartement exactly as he lived in his parents' home in Prague.
Some say that the story is having Freudian sidelines, such as Gregor kissing his sister in the neck, but I would tend to agree with Nabokov, who was an admirer of Kafka and was strongly believing that the story had nothing to do with that aspect. I think using the Freudian card may be a bit too simple.
The best part of this short story is that it gives the reader many ways to think about it. Because the book may be small, but it is filled with great ideas and such a perfect progression that you can only close the book and think you need to read it again. It is that good. Kafka tells us a very precise story but lets us think, and, similarly to Samsa at one point of the story, nurtures us with spiritual food. And this is what I love in literature. One of the second characters I loved the most was his sister, because she is a complex character. At first, Gregor has great secret plans to pay for the conservatory of music. You can sense that he truly loves her and at the beginning, once he is changed into an insect, she's the only one who has the courage to take care of him. But since life is cruel, you can only discover, by turning the pages, that she may has done it simply because of the immaturity of her small age. And towards the end, she will be the most cruel and vindicative towards him, openly screaming and asking her parents to get rid of "it".
But you can also not feel too much empathy for Gregor, as his own feelings are quite numb at times and in contradiction towards his own family. Kafka does not simply give him the great role. For instance, at one point, his sister and mother are getting rid of the objects from the room, in order for him to get more space. From his own point of view, they are getting rid of the only things he liked in his room - his room being now his entire life's universe. He never really fights his condition, but rather accepts it.
THE BRILLIANT ENDING
While Franz Kafka did not like the ending, I simply loved it. I first expected the family to kick him out or kill him, but even though he may have died from his father's kicks, in a way, he decides to leave. He has no longer any purpose in life and there is one very important but small line where he says that he looks back at his family with emotion.
And the brilliancy of the end is to see the family getting outside and suddenly looking forward towards their bright future. Gregor, even though they loved him, was a cancer that needed to be extracted. The only solution was for him to die, even though, not long before, he was actually the one taking care of the entire family on his own. Where's the gratitude in that?
I give it 10 out of 10. A real classic and such a delight to read.
Run the slideshow