The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a novel that tells the story of Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman. He is a hard-working young man who looks after his family, being its sole provider, and truly cares for his little sister Grete. Throughout the story, he suffers from a surreal transformation.
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The details of The Metamorphosis book summary are described below. You’ll also see the story’s analysis prepared by our writers.
🐞 The Metamorphosis Summary
Chapter 1: The Transformation
One morning Gregor awakens only to find himself turned into a monstrous vermin-like creature. As he tries to adjust to his new body, he becomes aware that he’s missed his morning train to work. At first, Gregor is troubled by his bosses’ expected reaction but decides to call in on a sick day.
The family notices something is wrong with Gregor, as he has never been late. They start knocking at his door to try and figure out what has happened, only hearing strange noises behind it. Gregor tries speaking to them, discovering that he cannot produce human speech nor open the door because of his physical alterations.
Chapter 1: The Big Reveal
Sometime later, Gregor’s boss comes looking for him. He scolds poor Gregor for his absence and warns him that he might lose his job. Gregor finally manages to open the door and appeals to his boss. He says that he is a dutiful employee and has never missed a day. However, nobody understands him, including the cleric, who runs away in terror at the look of Gregor’s new appearance. Gregor injures himself while trying to get back to the room, scared of his angry father.
Chapter 2: Gregor’s New Habits
Days pass while Gregor is hiding in his bedroom. He notices that Grete, his sister, has brought some of his favorite food for him, but it disgusts Gregor. The next day Grete brings rotten chunks that appeal more to his new tastes.
Grete takes care of her brother and the rest of the family. As more days go on, Gregor contemplates their financial situation, thinking about his plans to pay off their debt and provide his sister with a good education.
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Chapter 2: Rearrangement
One day Grete decides to move some furniture from Gregor’s room. The mother agrees to help. As they remove the furniture, Gregor climbs onto the picture of the lady with the muff to show protest. The mother, having seen him, faints in horror. Grete blames him and storms away with her mother. Gregor panics and springs into a frenzy around the dining room. At the same time, his father comes back from work and, after witnessing this hysteria, starts throwing apples at Gregor to scare him away. He badly wounds Gregor in the process.
Chapter 3: Abandonment
As more time passes, Gregor behaves more and more like an insect. He uses the gap in the bedroom door to watch his family’s routine. He learns that all of the family members are working. Even Grete is occupied now, paying less and less attention to Gregor, which makes him feel neglected. Additionally, the family takes on a group of lodgers as a prospect of additional income.
Chapter 3: The Lodgers Incident
One evening Gregor hears a violin, which his sister has not played since his metamorphosis. He crawls out of his bedroom to fully appreciate the concert. The lodgers spot him, which makes them very upset. They say that they won’t pay for their stay “because of the disgusting conditions prevailing in this household.” The bad news unnerves the family, and Grete says that “things can’t go on like this,” and that they must dispose of the vermin. Gregor, hearing everything they said, creeps back into his room, where he dies the next morning.
Chapter 3: Death & Liberation
Having found Gregor’s remains, the family feels both sadness and satisfaction at the same time. The father kicks the lodgers off, suddenly feeling disgusted towards them. For the same reason, they decide to dismiss the charwoman, who has disposed of the remains. The family decides to take a day off and go to the countryside. There they feel relieved and think about future plans, which include finding a rich husband for Grete.
You can check each chapter’s summary and analysis separately:
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💡 The Metamorphosis Analysis
From the book, the reader can deduce many details about human behavior. The Metamorphosis’ meaning of the work as a whole relies on people and their reactions. While this kind of transformation is entirely impossible in reality, Kafka creates a perfect setting to observe and analyze the authentic demeanor of human relationships. Throughout the novella, the Samsa family’s changing attitude towards Gregor. Meanwhile, Gregor’s own metamorphosis is also developing.
At first, the family becomes concerned with their financial assets. Over the years, they became unfamiliar with work, as Gregor brought money and food to the family. At the same time, Gregor is still concerned with the matters of his household, becoming a burden to it. The scene with rotten food shows that Gregor’s body starts to interfere with his human thoughts. Moreover, Gregor’s room in The Metamorphosis plays a significant role, as it keeps him close to humanity.
Gregor’s physical metamorphosis happened overnight, but his mental metamorphosis continues to develop throughout the whole story. It is possible to assume that through The Metamorphosis story meaning Kafka reflects on the population’s mental state during his time. The Modern Age of the XXth century came swiftly to Europe, leaving many individuals with a feeling of loneliness.
At the same time, another metamorphosis can be observed in the Samsa family. At first, they care for Gregor and look after him. However, as time passes and the family becomes more and more independent from Gregor. They start disregarding him. In the novel’s finale, the family completely abstains from the idea that the bug could be their son and brother, which leads to Gregor’s death. Shortly after, the family moves on and plans a new future for themselves. This behavior may be interpreted as typical of the Modern Age.
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The Metamorphosis’s meaning has a clear context. With the increasing life pace, even mourning becomes a burden. A person must move on quickly and think about more pressing matters, such as work, education, marriage, etc.
To conclude The Metamorphosis’s summary and analysis, the book has a double meaning in it. While the physical transformation is clear, the author reflects on Gregor’s psychological change as an adjustment to new realities. The development of the family’s attitude is also apparent. With increasing responsibilities, they become independent from Gregor. The analysis strongly relies on the summary of The Metamorphosis, as its core themes are connected to the plot progression.
Thanks for reading! Find out more about The Metamorphosis’s characters and themes in other articles. Besides, check our essay topics if you’d like to write a paper on the story.