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Kafka's Metamorphosis

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Kafka's Metamorphosis

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself

transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect" (Kafka 1757).

This opening is famous not only for its startling content but also for its

calm, matter-of-fact style which then sets the tone for the rest of the

story. Along with Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and Dante's Inferno, Franz

Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" has one of the most-memorized and most

attention-catching opening lines.

Gregor Samsa feels that he has been treated as a lowly insect and comes to

feel that he is one; the story makes the leap from "I feel like an insect"

to "I am an insect." Whatever the causes for Gregor feeling this way,

these causes have led to his isolation and alienation (the feeling of

being a stranger and an alien, even in those places where one should feel

at home). Gregor has undergone an ultimate alienation: he is alienated

from both his psychological and physical self.

Once Gregor's metamorphosis (change) has been accomplished, the story

moves inevitably to his death. In many ways, the protagonist (main

character) of "The Metamorphosis" and his dilemmas are much like those in

"The Death of Ivan Ilyich."

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia to a Jewish

family of German origin. Kafka received his doctorate in law in 1906 but

never practiced law, instead taking a job as a minor official in the

accident claims division of an insurance company. Listening to stories of

hardships and dealing with bureaucracy undoubtedly contributed to the

themes of the stories he wrote each day after work. His first work


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