Summary of "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka

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by Christoph Champ, 23-May-1999

I believe an interesting thing to note on Metamorphosis was the "beast" Kafka chose to use for his creature in the story. He didn't choose a mammal (that would be too humanlike and easy to understand and associate with) he chose an insect. An insect is a creature most people hate, cringe at, or are afraid of. If Gregor had turned into a horse, for example, his family might have found a useful application for their son's metamorphosis. They also would have probably grown to love him and like him, just as most people love and like horses. Even though horses are warm-blooded, like us, and have personalities, we, humans, believe we are better than they are, yet there is no animosity towards them. With cold-blooded insects, whom we're sure have no personality to their name, most humans can never be comfortable around them (even the most harmless of them all). Unscientifically or without taking the environment into consideration, the first thing most of us would do upon discovering an insect in our abodes is squash (kill) the evil creature and congratulate ourselves afterwards for exterminating an intruder (even though so small and "insignificant"). The only thing most people know what to do with an insect is kill it (or remove it from sight). Gregor's family had the same problem: How should they treat him, relate to him, or communicate with him? Prior to Gregor's change, he was a three-dimensional human conformed to his three-dimensional world. Then the metamorphosis: He was now a two-dimensional creature in the same three-dimensional world, an incompatibility. When I speak of dimensions, I mean of social status, compatibility, and the complexity of the human society.

This article is copyrighted © 1999 by Christoph Champ. All rights reserved.