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“Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Nov 13th, 2021

Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” is a well knit literary piece in the fiction genre that puts together the shifting events of Gregor; a good man who turned into an insect and his world completely changed. The author takes the reader through Gregor’s black comical escapades that are more satirical than their surface depiction.

This context embarks on an analysis of the key aspects of this book in a bid to unravel the author’s message, while at the same time noting the literary worth of Kafka’s masterpiece. A thorough scrutiny into Gregor experiences casts real scenes in Franz Kafka’s past life which was miserable and pathetic just like the symbolic cockroach Grogor metamorphosized into.

Told from the third person perspective, Kafka uses an intelligent approach by narrating the story from the protagonist’s viewpoint, and all the readers use Gregor’s eyes as the lens to view the events in the story. Significant emphasis is attached to his feelings and thoughts in an effort to bring out his current understanding of the world prior to his mutation and after his metamorphosis.

It is important to note that, irony is used to disapprove Gregor’s thoughts which were exactly the opposite in reality. The target audience in this story is the people who spend their entire life working to please others and forget about their own needs.

Kafka’s choice of diction is sufficient and well calculated. The opening of the story clearly introduces the main story to the reader with the creation of a pathetic image in the mind of the readers. The words that Kafka uses to describe the insect Gregor changed into. ……“domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top” creates an image of a cockroach in the readers mind though Kafka does not directly mention the actual name of the insect.

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In addition, Kafka’s use of simple words and sentence structures that are easy to understand, makes reading this book an interesting experience. However, the author’s tone from the surface may be termed comic but a deeper analysis portrays a lot of satire and sarcasm. In the midst of comedy, the protagonist fights for his salvation from his guilt and alienation; all resulting from his working conditions.

Among the major themes portrayed is alienation, which is facilitated by the irrational nature of the universe. Gregor was a good person who sacrificed his own life to work and take care of his family yet when the worst happened to him, they left him all alone. Disconnection of the mind from the body poses as another major theme. Though Gregor’s body has changed into an insect, his humanity remains.

This further shows the unending conflict in the story as Gregor tries to make sense of his insect life on one side, and his family takes him for the pathetic cockroach he has become on the other side. Sympathy and its limits emerges as a theme when all his family members find jobs and finally give up on him and leave him all alone.

A look into the stylistic devices adopted, metaphor is widely used throughout the story. Gregor’s transformation into an insect is metaphorical as it incapacitates him; he cannot talk, when he talks he cannot be heard, his family cannot see his need to live a free life even in his transformed shape and he is a disgrace.

The insect clearly explains Gregor’s state and he has to bear it all alone because no one understands him. The setting is also used as style: It is suffocating and mentally disturbing as well psychologically distressing. This can be evidenced by the four walls of Gregor’s room and their dining room. Through the setting, Kafka uses character development to take the reader through the stages of transformation of Gregor till his death.

This text is important as it shows the predicament of the modern man. The world relationships have become more parasitic and people value others based on what they can give. With reference to “Metamorphosis” by Kafka, the bad always get away with their actions and the good suffers in the hands of the bad. Though this story can trace back into the 20th century, it perfectly fit in the real arena of the 21st century survival.

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1. IvyPanda. "“Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka." November 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/metamorphosis-by-franz-kafka/.


IvyPanda. "“Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka." November 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/metamorphosis-by-franz-kafka/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "“Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka." November 13, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/metamorphosis-by-franz-kafka/.


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