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Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis

1) Style of Story – Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis is an essentially dystopic existentialist novel, in the sense that is a story told primarily from a tight third person focus from the perspective of its protagonist, dwelling upon the nature of his suddenly changed existence as rendered on most unfavorable terms. The writing possesses a rather intriguing style. Much of this is stemmed from a peculiarity of the German language in which verbs are positioned at the end of sentences.

The first sentence of Metamorphosis essentially drabbles on to surprise the reader with a sudden impactful imagery in which Samsa is declared to have become a “vermin, changed. ” In English it becomes difficult to transliterate without taking some liberties. 2) Climax of the story – The climax is essentially the beginning of the story, which opens with the revelation of its protagonist’s plight of being transformed into a hideous vermin, and takes place directly after increasing tensions and occurring directly before an ever-bleakening future. 3) Who is the protagonist?

Why? – The protagonist is one Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who – prior to his transformation – works to support his family, all of whom are apparently unemployed or unable to work. Samsa’s duties as the family’s sole breadwinner make him disconnected from them and thus he experiences the alienation which is crucial to the themes of the story. 4) Internal conflict – The internal conflict of Metamorphosis is Gregor coming to terms with his changed existence. Although he appears to be indifferent to the grotesqueness of his form, this is not the same as ‘accepting’ it.

This is necessary to his ability to take the steps necessary to correct the state of affairs, whether it is reconciling with his family and work or concluding that reconciliation is impossible and that this existence is unchangeably bleak and fleeing to a better life. 5) External conflict – The external conflict of Metamorphosis is the effect Gregor’s transformation has upon his family. In one dimension, it substantially upsets the economic stability of his family forcing upon them the need to find their own way to make ends meet.

But the second, more socio-psychologically wrought effect of this is it changes his relationship with them as he ceases to have any meaning to them. Having become so distant from them, Gregor does not possess the emotional connection to his family that makes his plight matter to them on any terms BUT as an economic provider and therefore has become irrelevant to them as a person. 6) Plot – As indicated above, Metamorphosis begins with its protagonist, Gregor Samsa waking up to the surprising realization that he has metamorphosed into a “hideous vermin,” frequently assumed to be a cockroach or dung beetle or some form of insect.

He initially experiences little to no upset at this revelation, having been accustomed to waking up to ever changing surroundings in his job as a traveling salesman. As such, there is an interpretative possibility that Samsa has not physically changed so much as his mental or perceptual reality has been altered, despite his relative lack of acknowledgement that this has occurred. The story extends around the effects of his transfiguration. However, despite his central importance to the household, he experiences alienation and separation from it.

Although he still holds cognition, he is unable to communicate effectively to the family, who are not surprised by his state so much as they despise the burden it imposes upon them. He is shut into his room and initially cared for with food and water under the charge of his sister, but as time passes his confinement becomes more and more pronounced. As financial hardship begins to affect the family, Samsa’s sister begins to relinquish her care for him and he appears to shrink not only in terms of his physical size, but in terms of his identity.

Eventually his sister rejects him totally by concluding that the insect that was Gregor is no longer Gregor. Gregor retreats permanently to his room, lies down and perishes from the focused totality of starvation and neglect. After finding his corpse, the family feels relieved and begins to reacquire a sense of social and financial stability as they forget about Gregor. 7) Setting – Metamorphosis takes place entirely within the Samsa residence. 8) Main character – The main character of The Metamorphosis is Gregor Samsa, the traveling salesman who also lives with the family he provides for.

He works long hours to support them as well as pay off the debts to the company his father incurred. He is a solitary individual, with no friends to socialize with (would that he even care to do so). 9) How the story begins – The story begins with its protagonist, Gregor Samsa waking up one morning “from uneasy dreams” to find himself “transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. ” 10) How it ends – Metamorphosis ends with his family struggling to make ends meet as they concurrently shut him out of their lives.

After his father pelts him with apples and sister conclusively rejects him, he dies alone from neglect and an apple embedded in his back that has turned to an infectious rot. 11) Narration – The story is narrated from a third person perspective, with a very tight focus on Gregor Samsa and his perspective of things. This changes after he dies, when the perspective shifts over to his family who are relieved of the burden of his unpleasant existence. 12) Symbols – The most potent symbol in Metamorphosis is that of the unspecified insect which Samsa has become, which represents his self-created alienation and dehumanization.

The former is connected with his increasing disengagement with a mother who’d like to see him more, an overbearing father and a lack of a social life while the latter is connected with his increased involvement with work for its own sake. Interestingly, Samsa never realizes up to the end of the story that he possesses wings on his back, which could signify his untapped potential to escape his unfortunate circumstances. 13) Main idea – Metamorphosis is fundamentally about the dehumanization of the self in the pursuit of economic well-being for one’s self and for others, and the resultant alienation that induces.

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