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The Metamorphosis Summary

The Metamorphosis Summary

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Setting

The metamorphosis is set in Prague.

Main Characters

Gregor Samsa- is a traveling salesman and the protagonist of the story. Gregor hates his job but keeps it because of the obligations he feels to pay off his father’s debt and care for his family.

Grete Samsa- she is Gregor’s sister who is a young woman on the cusp of adulthood.

The father- he is Gregor’s father. The failure of his business has left him exhausted and emotionally broken, and he is forced to return to work again after Gregor’s metamorphosis.

The mother- she is Gregor’s mother who is Frail and distressed. the mother is torn between her love for Gregor and her horror at Gregor’s new state.

The charwoman- she is an elderly widow and the Samsa family’s cleaning lady.

The office manager- he is Gregor’s boss who is Distrustful and overbearing and insinuates that Gregor has been doing a poor job at work.

The boarders- there are three temporary boarders in the Samsas’ house.

The maid- She is The Samsas’ original maid who is terrified by Gregor and begs the family to fire her.

 

Plot Summary

Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, wakes up one morning and discovers that he has transformed into a giant cockroach. He realizes he has missed his train and gets acquainted with his awkward new body as he worries about his stressful salesman job. His mother, father, and sister Grete realize something is amiss and knock at his door, but he cannot produce human speech and also cannot open the door. His boss, the Chief Clerk, arrives, and scolds him for his tardiness and strange behavior, even suggesting that his job might be in danger. Gregor finally opens his door with difficulty and gives the Chief Clerk a long speech about his dutifulness to his job. But no one understands the speech; his family is shocked at his appearance, and the Chief Clerk runs away. Gregor injures himself when he squeezes back through the doorway into his bedroom.

Gregor finds that Grete has brought him some fresh food, which does not appeal to him. Gregor resolves to help his family deal with the trouble he is causing them with his metamorphosis. The following morning Grete brings Gregor rotting food, and he eats hungrily. Gregor overhears the family talking about their finances, and determining that they will have to go back to work, now that he can no longer provide for them. Gregor feels upset and sorry that he cannot support them anymore. About a month passes, with Grete taking care of Gregor less and less attentively. One day Grete sees Gregor out of his hiding place and is disturbed. Another month passes, and then Gregor's mother wants to come to help Grete and support Gregor. Grete and the mother plan to move Gregor's old furniture out so he can crawl more freely, but Gregor decides that he wants to keep his furniture, which links him to his humanity. He climbs the wall and places himself over his print of the lady with the muff, which shocks his mother when she returns to the room, causing her to faint. Gregor's father returns home and finds Gregor panicking in the dining room. Gregor's father pelts Gregor with apples, one of which severely injures him.

Another month passes while Gregor recovers from his injury. His family members are exhausted from working, and Gregor feels neglected. The family takes on three borders for additional income, and Gregor feels even more ignored. One night Grete plays her violin for the boarders. Though the borders seem bored, Gregor is profoundly affected, and crawls out of his room, enjoying the beautiful music and optimistic that he will be able to help his family and become close to Grete again. The boarders notice Gregor with disgust and decide that they will leave and not even pay for the time they had stayed so far. Grete tells her mother and father that the cockroach, which she cannot even believe is Gregor, has ruined their lives. Gregor feebly returns to his room, thinks of his family with love, and dies. The charwoman who cleans the house discovers his body the next morning. Grete, her mother, and father decide to take off work. They go to the countryside by tram, and talk happily about future plans, and finding a new apartment. Gregor's mother and father realize that it is time to find a husband for Grete.

Themes

  1. Transformation. Gregor Samsa turns into an ugly bug. The transformation starts from the very first line when he wakes up from an uneasy dream. His Manager who has come to call him for work is disgusted by the transformation and flees from the scene. Gregor is also confused as his transformation impacts his relationship with family members and it worsens.
  2. Loss of Identity. Although Gregor Samsa changes into a bug, he keeps his thoughts and language intact. However, as soon as people come to know of his bizarre transformation, they become indifferent. His identity changes with his physical features. He is no longer a breadwinner, but dependent and loses his importance. Eventually, he becomes a burden with time until he is no more.