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- Consider the transformation that happened with Grete Samsa throughout the story.
How does Gregor’s sister change after Gregor’s transformation? Explain how her work and house duties turned her into a more mature and confident person. How did it affect the ending of The Metamorphosis?
- Speculate on the symbolic meaning of food.
How does food reflect the relationship between Gregor and his family? Their financial situation? Mention how Gregor gave up eating by the end of the novella, just as he eventually gave up living. What impact did food (especially an apple) have on Gregor’s life and death?
- Examine the character of Mrs. Samsa.
Why doesn’t the reader learn her name? What is her role in the story? Elaborate on her relationships with other family members. Why did she want to visit Gregor after his transformation? Was she able to?
- Comment on the tone of the novella.
How does Kafka’s style impact the tone of The Metamorphosis? How does the narrator’s tone contradict the events from the start? Explore the novella’s language and themes to analyze its tone, provide examples from the text.
- Talk about different translations of The Metamorphosis.
What are the differences in various translations of the novella? Examplify a few essential ones. Why is translating Kafka’s writing quite tricky?
- Analyze the conflict between the mind and the body.
How does Gregor suffer from the conflict after the transformation? In what ways does his insect body contradict his opinions and logical decisions? Explain how Gregor’s physical transformation led to his mental change.
- Elaborate on the point of view of The Metamorphosis.
Why is it crucial that we see the story from Gregor’s perspective? How does it change the narrative? Speculate on whether Kafka was writing from his point of view as well.The Limited Third-Person Narrator in Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Essay
- Explore the publishing of the novella.
Why was the publishing delayed for three years? Find information about the problems regarding the historical context (particularly World War I) and Kafka’s life that led to troubles with the release of The Metamorphosis.
- Examine Gregor’s initial reaction to his transformation.
What’s peculiar about it? How does it enhance the surrealism of the situation? Speculate on the ups and downs of the transformation for Gregor. How did his reaction to his new form change?
- Consider the role of Gregor’s job.
Why may have Kafka decide to make him a traveling salesman? How did his occupation affect his life? Examine Gregor’s reflections concerning his job, colleagues, and his boss with examples. Mention the conspiracy with the money that the chief clerk brings up in Chapter 1.
- Talk about the family theme.
What was the initial reaction of each member of the Samsa family on Gregor’s transformation? How did their behavior towards the new Gregor change with time? Explain why they struggle with feeling empathy and sympathy towards an insect.
- Elaborate on the role of money.
Why was Gregor the sole supporter of the family before his transformation? How did his parents and sister deal with the financial aspect of life after him becoming an insect? Consider Gregor’s feelings about the subject before his transformation, right after, and near the end of the novella. Was his family angry at him for the inability to support them?
- Examine the kind of insect Gregor turns into.
What are the most popular interpretations and suggestions concerning the type of bug? Why did Kafka make it as ambiguous as possible? Mention how Kafka insisted on making a cover for The Metamorphosis without a definite cockroach and provide different translations of the original word for the bug.
- Compare Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness.
What elements are present in both novellas? What features the main characters have in common? Compare the themes of the novellas and explain what movements influenced the authors.
- Analyze the relationship between Gregor and his father.
What’s Mr. Samsa’s initial reaction to Gregor’s new form? Does it change? Consider Gregor’s responses to his father’s violent behavior after the transformation. Why was Mr. Samsa angry at his son throughout the novella?
- Explore the historical context.
What was happening in the world and Prague in particular when Kafka was writing The Metamorphosis? What technological advancements were presented to the public eye? Which philosophical tendencies were popular? Elaborate on everything that could’ve influenced Kafka’s novella.
- Comment on Grete’s violin.
Why is the violin crucial for Grete’s and Gregor’s relationship? When does it appear? How does the violin concert in Chapter 3 affect the story? Mention how Grete’s mother accidentally broke the violin and explain what this action symbolizes.
- Examine Kafka’s relationship with his father.
What do we know about their connection? How is it reflected in the relationship between Gregor and Mr. Samsa?
- Elaborate on Gregor’s room.
What furniture and other objects are located in his room? How do they establish Gregor’s personality? Explain why it upsets and satisfies Gregor when his mother and sister move the furniture away from his room. What object does he desire to keep the most, and why?
- Talk about Gregor’s reaction to the chief clerk’s appearance.
Why is Gregor scared? How does he react to the clerk’s allegations? Is he afraid of disappointing his family? Speculate on why Gregor is alarmed by this messenger and what role money plays in the conflict.
- Consider the relationship between Grete and Gregor.
How does the connection between them differ from that of Gregor and any other person? How does it change after his transformation? Analyze Grete’s attitude towards her brother and why she was the one to ask the rest of the family to get rid of Gregor. Why did she take care of Gregor and his room alone and then stopped?
- Compare and contrast the attitudes towards Gregor.
How does each character react to Gregor’s insect form? Elaborate on the father’s violent behavior, the mother’s fear and pity, and the sister’s sympathy and disgust. Then mention the chief clerk’s fear and the curiosity of the charwoman. Why was she the one who got rid of Gregor’s body?
- Comment on Gregor’s guilt.
What does Gregor feel guilty about? Provide his reasons for this feeling from the novella, concentrating on the second half of Chapter 2. What impact does his guilt have on the ending of The Metamorphosis?
- Analyze the chief clerk’s appearance in Chapter 1.
Why did he come to the Samsa’s apartment? Why was he annoyed by Gregor’s behavior? Why did he decide to talk about the conspiracy that Gregor had been stealing money? Mention the attitude of the family members towards him.
- Examine how the Samsa’s family reacted to Gregor’s death.
What did each member of the family feel? Why did the father kick the lodgers out of the house? Why were they annoyed by the charwoman’s reaction? Express how hopeful they were in the end and ready to move on.
- Compare the father-son relationships in The Metamorphosis and Oedipus the King.
What features do the father characters share? How did the relationships with the respective fathers influence the lives of Gregor and Oedipus? Elaborate on the upbringing of the characters and their impact on future choices.
- Speculate on the inspiration for the novella.
How did Kafka develop the idea for The Metamorphosis? Explore his feeling of isolation, his one-sided romance with Felice Bauer. Analyze the relationship with his father that could have laid the foundation of The Metamorphosis. What philosophical movements may have affected the story as well?
- Elaborate on the portrait of a woman in furs.
How do the picture and its frame look like? Speculate on why Gregor keeps this picture in his room and what it symbolizes for him. Why does he hold on to it the most when Mrs. Samsa and Grete take other furniture out of his room?
- Consider the language of The Metamorphosis.
What language did Kafka use? Why? How does it affect the tone of the novella? Find prime examples of the ambiguous wording that led to various translations.
- Explore the Kafkaesque style of The Metamorphosis.
What does the term Kafkaesque mean? Why is the novella considered an example of Kafkaesque writing? List the aspects from The Metamorphosis that help to define the style.
- Talk about the character of Mr. Samsa.
What are his key traits? Elaborate on what his attitude towards Gregor was before and after his transformation. How did Mr. Samsa change by the end of the novella? Elaborate on his attachment to his uniform and willingness to kill his son at the end of Chapter 2. What were his relationships with his wife and daughter?
- Speculate on why Gregor may have turned into an insect.
Find the theories that explain his transformation and provide your opinion. Could his isolation and loneliness before the events of the novella cause his metamorphosis? Could the sacrifices he made for his family lead to the transformation?
- Explore Gregor’s mental transformation.
How did the transformation of his body affect his mind? How does his thought process change over time? Express how Gregor’s perception changed, how he started to view himself and the others. Mention the impact that the music had on him and his sense of identity.
- Analyze the relationship between Gregor and his mother.
What does her monologue during the chief clerk’s visit reveal about her attitude towards her son? Does she understand him? Explain why she agrees not to visit him, even though she desires to see Gregor after his transformation. Elaborate on the “unfortunate son” quote.
- Examine the supporting characters of the novella.
How can the reader view the world outside of the Samsa’s apartment through the lodgers, the chief clerk, and the charwoman? Why are these characters introduced in the novella? Analyze each one of them and the role they play in the story.
- Talk about the reasons why Grete wants to take care of Gregor alone.
Why does she start to take care of him in the first place? Was she attentive? Did the reasons for such a treatment change or transformed? Why didn’t Grete let anyone help her, including her mother? Provide Gregor’s thoughts concerning the subject. Why did Grete couldn’t bear taking care of him by the end of the novella?
- Speculate on why it’s an insect that Gregor turned into.
Is it crucial that Gregor transformed into a bug and not into any other creature? Express your opinion on all the possible reasons why it should’ve been an insect, whether due to its disgusting appearance, inability to talk, or any other significant aspect. Could’ve Gregor’s lack of self-worth led to taking the form of this particular creature?
- Compare how Grete and her mother treat Gregor as opposed to the charwoman.
Why isn’t charwoman disgusted or terrified by Gregor? Speculate on whether the difference in their treatment comes from the lack of caring about Gregor on behalf of the charwoman or not knowing him as a human and viewing him solely as an insect. Does the fact that she isn’t burdened by his existence affect her approach?
- Consider Gregor’s inner monologue.
As Gregor lost his ability to speak and isn’t allowed to go out, he’s stuck in the room alone with his thoughts. What does the reader learn about him as a character through his inner monologue? What is his attitude towards the world outside and his family?
- Elaborate on the theme of alienation.
Did Gregor feel alienated before the transformation? How did his insect body exacerbate his alienation? Explain what role the theme plays in Gregor’s worsening condition and how Kafka expressed his isolation through Gregor’s story.
- Explain how Gregor’s and Grete’s roles in the family changed.
At the beginning of The Metamorphosis, Gregor was the leading supporter of the family, while Grete was a young woman without an occupation, aka a useless burden in the eyes of the family. By the end of the story, their roles changed. How did it happen? How did it affect the attitude towards Grete? Explore what impact the new status had on Grete and her attitude towards Gregor.
- Explore Gregor’s physical and mental injuries.
How did Gregor suffer from injuries before and after the transformation (exemplify the knife cut that he recalls)? How does he get hurt throughout the novella? Examine how Gregor’s psychological turmoils correlate with his physical damages.
- Talk about Mr. Samsa’s uniform.
How did the uniform initially change Mr. Samsa? Analyze the moment from the end of Chapter 2 where Gregor sees his father in the uniform clearly for the first time. What does Gregor feel? Compare this moment to the later transformation of the uniform and the father in Chapter 3. Explain the connection between Mr. Samsa and this clothing.
- Speculate on the correlation between the imagery and Gregor’s emotional state.
How does the use of imagery reflect the inner conflicts and emotions of the main character? Elaborate on the striking imagery with the examples from the text and prove their connection with Gregor’s psychological state.
- Explain why it’s improbable that the story happened in Gregor’s dream or imagination.
How does the first line of the novella ruin the allegation that Gregor is dreaming? Find examples from the text that support the idea that everything is happening in the real world. How do the family members and the supporting characters also contradict the theory?
- Comment on the Marxist Interpretation of The Metamorphosis.
How can the conflict between the Proletariat and the Bourgeois be found in the novella? How does Gregor’s hatred towards his job contribute to it? Does the job have a dehumanizing effect on the main character? Add examples from the text that illustrate the financial concerns of the family.
- Analyze one film adaptation of the novella.
Choose one adaptation and compare it to the source material. How did the director handle the image of the insect form? Is the movie true to the original, or had too many changes?
- Examine the moment when Mr. Samsa explains the financial situation to the family.
What new information does Gregor find out? What’s his reaction? Why does the family decide to look for jobs right away when they can live off the savings for about a year?
- Elaborate on Gregor’s dreams.
What does Gregor desire the most? What does he want for himself, his family, and his sister in particular? Talk about his ambitions and wishes; describe his dream for his sister and how it changed a bit in Chapter 3.
- Speculate on the significance of the door.
The critical thing that physically separates Gregor from his family is the door in his room. How does the level of sympathy correlate with the opening of the door? Express how the family members tried to open it in Chapter 1, then kept it locked in Chapter 2, and decided to leave it open every evening in Chapter 3.
- Consider Gregor’s perception of his insect body.
Does Gregor know how he looks? Can he predict the other people’s reactions that his body may cause? Speculate on why Gregor doesn’t realize how disgusting he looks to other people before he gets a response from them. How and why does he start hiding from others and then stop doing so?
- Explore the theme of self-sacrifice.
How does Gregor sacrifice his freedom and happiness for his family before the transformation? How does Gregor sacrifice his comfort and his desire to communicate with others after turning into the bug? Talk about his death as the last act of service and sacrifice for his family.
- Analyze the role of communication.
How does Gregor’s inability to speak affect the story? Speculate on what could have happened concerning his relationships with the Samsa family if Gregor could talk. How does the lack of conversations reflect the state of the family?
- Examine the aspect of sympathy in The Metamorphosis.
Who felt sympathy towards Gregor? Why was all the sympathy from the family lost after the incident with the lodgers? Explain why characters found it challenging to feel positive emotions towards the insect. According to the novella, is it possible to live with such a creature and feel sympathy towards it?
- Elaborate on the symbolism.
What are the most prominent symbols in the novella? Express your thoughts about each one and explain their role in the story. Why did Kafka use a few of them in such a short novella?
- Talk about the character of Gregor.
What does Gregor value in life? Explain what his relationships are within and outside of the Samsa family. What does he desire the most? Elaborate on the sacrifices that he made for his family.
- Consider Gregor’s humanity.
Gregor feels like he’s losing his identity, as he’s turning in the insect on the inside. Can the reader conclude that he saved his human side by the end of The Metamorphosis? Does his family think so? Mention Gregor’s reaction to music in Chapter 3.
- Explore Grete’s compassion towards Gregor.
How does Grete take care of her brother after the transformation? In what ways does she show her sympathy towards him? How do Gregor and the reader understand that Grete stopped caring about him? Elaborate on the moment when she loses her sympathy.
- Speculate on the meaning of the family’s surname.
There is the word “samja” in the Czech language that means “being alone.” Knowing that Kafka lived in Prague while writing the novella, can we suspect that he chose the surname Samsa for a reason? Talk about who can be considered lonely in the family.
- Compare and contrast Mr. and Mrs. Samsa.
What are their significant differences? How do their attitudes towards their son differ? Explain that the characters express the polar opposite behaviors throughout the story. How do they treat Gregor and Grete before and after the transformation?
- Elaborate on the moment when the human and insect sides of Gregor clash.
When does it happen? Why? List all the moments of such confusion (taking out the furniture, changing the food, crawling, swinging from the ceiling) that show how Gregor struggles from his human mind and insect desires.
- Talk about a cure for Gregor.
Why did no one call for a doctor? Why didn’t any family member, even Gregor, try to think of a cure for Gregor’s condition? Reflect on the reason for such behavior and how it affects the reader’s interpretation of the story.
- Analyze the themes of The Metamorphosis.
What are the major themes of the story? Consider each one of them and their role in the story. Was there a reason why Kafka wanted to elaborate on these particular themes in the novella?
- Examine the symbolism of the writing desk.
What does the desk represent? How does Gregor react when his sister and mother try to move it away from his room? Why? Elaborate on the way Gregor clings to his vanishing human side and how it contradicts his insect needs.
- Consider the ending of the novella.
Talk about Gregor’s death: was it a noble sacrifice or a tragic one? What does the Samsa family feel? Describe the ending of The Metamorphosis and explain why it sounds hopeful.
- Explore how the plot of The Metamorphosis contradicts Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory.
As opposed to Darwin’s revelation that biological forms evolve over a long time to become more complex and adapted, Gregor Samsa, in a moment, turned into a less perfect yet more primal creature. Compare and contrast Gregor’s de-evolution with Darwin’s theory.
- Talk about the weather in the novella.
When is it described? What is the significance of the weather at the beginning and the end of The Metamorphosis? What atmosphere and does it highlight?
- Compare movie adaptations of The Metamorphosis.
What are the significant differences between the two films? How did the directors deal with narration and inner monologue? Present the examples from both movies to explain which one, in your opinion, is better or more accurate to the source material.
- Analyze the stage adaptations.
Find information about the most prominent stage adaptations of the novella and speculate on what makes them so successful. How is Gregor’s insect form presented? How does the set look like?
- Examine modernism in The Metamorphosis.
What modernistic features does the novella bear? On what modernistic themes does Kafka elaborate? Explain how the movement affected the author and his work.
- Consider humor in the novella.
Can this story be called a funny one? What types of humor did Kafka incorporate? Talk about the use of irony in The Metamorphosis. Discuss the amusing contrast between the surreal events and the matter-of-fact tone of the narration.
- Elaborate on the symbolism of the windows.
When and why did Gregor develop an attachment to the windows in his room? What does Gregor see through them? Explain that the only form of freedom that Gregor can afford comes from viewing the outside world through the windows. Add how Gregor abandoned them in Chapter 3 due to his medical condition and the lack of hope.
- Talk about the genre of The Metamorphosis.
Why is it tricky to define the novella’s genre right away? What genres of fiction are the most notable? Provide proof from the text to elaborate on your position.
- Speculate on the significance of the number 3.
Find all the instances where the number occurs (time of Gregor’s death, amount of lodgers and doors, the number of chapters, etc.) and provide your explanation for its incorporation in the story.
- Analyze the passage of time.
How does time create tension at the beginning of Chapter 1? How does Gregor’s perception of time change as the days go by? Mention how Chapter 1 lasts only a morning, while the other chapters last a lot longer. Why is the passage of time vital for the family after Gregor’s metamorphosis?
- Examine the role of the 3 lodgers.
Why did they start living with the Samsa family? What do they represent in the novella? Explore their presence, reaction to Gregor’s form, and the dynamic within the group. Why did Mr. Samsa demand them to leave? What does the relationship between the family and the lodgers signify?
- Evaluate Freud’s influence on the themes of The Metamorphosis.
What Freudian theories can be found in the novella? Analyze the plot according to the interaction of 3 parts of Gregor’s mind (Id, Ego, Superego) and the Oedipus complex.
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