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What is the setting of The Metamorphosis?

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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka takes place in an unnamed European city. The primary setting is an apartment of the Samsa family. An entire story develops in Samsa’s house; its analysis becomes essential.

Throughout the book, Kafka gives many details about the place. The Samsa apartment is typical for the early twentieth century. Due to Gregor’s hard work and self-negligence, the Samsa family lives with comfort. They have enough rooms for each member of the family, a cook, and a servant girl.

Gregor’s room is the most critical place in the house. Much of the story happens here. As Kafka describes, Gregor’s room is “a regular human bedroom” that “lay quiet between the four familiar walls.” The cloth samples suggest that Gregor takes his job seriously. It can mean that Gregor brings work home.

The reader can learn more about Gregor through the objects in his room. The lady’s cut-out print in the muff symbolizes Gregor’s humanity and his strive towards a better life. When his mother attempts to refinish the room, Gregor holds on to it. It may mean that Gregor tries to stay human. His body and his mind went through a transformation. However, the self-made frame with the lady reminds him of his human side.

After the transformation, Gregor’s room changes with him. In the last part of the novella, the room is dusty and unclean. His family members do not want to enter it. The room goes through a significant transformation, as well. The cleaning that Grete does is superficial.

The door and windows in Gregor’s bedroom are essential details. In various parts of the novel, Gregor keeps looking out the windows. He contemplates his situation and feels anxious about his family. There are multiple ways in which to interpret this symbol. The windows could symbolize Gregor’s aspirations and hopes for a better future.

Gregor likes peeking at his family through the door. It is the only time he can peacefully look at them without raising any adverse reaction. The door symbolizes Gregor’s alienation from his family.

At some point, the family has to get rid of their cook and servant girl to cut expenses. Instead, they hire a “gigantic body charwoman,” who takes care of Gregor. The change of workforce in the house illustrates financial struggles that worsened after Gregor became an insect. It may represent a change in the way Gregor’s family feels about him.

At the end of the novella, the setting plays a notable role. After a disaster at Greta’s concert, battered Gregor retreats to his room. There, in solitude, Gregor dies thinking about his family. Gregor’s death in his bedroom symbolizes the end of Gregor’s struggles and suffering and his isolation.

To summarize, The Metamorphosis’ setting plays a vital role in the novella. It outlines some characters’ emotions and actions. By analyzing the location, the reader can gain additional knowledge about the book. The fact that the family changes the flat represents a significant change in their life.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "What is the setting of The Metamorphosis?" January 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/what-is-the-setting-of-the-metamorphosis/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'What is the setting of The Metamorphosis'. 29 January.

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