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The Metamorphosis by Mind Map: The Metamorphosis
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The Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's body structure through cell growth and differentiation. Some insects, amphibians, molluscs, crustaceans, Cnidarians, echinoderms and tunicates undergo metamorphosis, which is usually accompanied by a change of habitat or behavior. Scientific usage of the term is exclusive, and is not applied to general aspects of cell growth, including rapid growth spurts. References to "metamorphosis" in mammals are imprecise and only colloquial, but historically idealist ideas of transformation and monadology, as in Goethe's Metamorphosis of Plants, influenced the development of ideas of evolution. The word "metamorphosis" derives from Greek μεταμόρφωσις, "transformation, transforming", from μετα- (meta-), "change" + μορφή (morphe), "form". All insects in the Pterygota undergo a marked change in form, texture and physical...

Nature of People

People are free, creative beings who have the power to totally transform the world.

"she...loved music and could play the violin movingly" (20).

Tone: Kafka shows disinterest throughout the novel as each chapter reveals depression. It lacks happiness. The depressing tone represents the similarity to Kafka and Gregor. The article describes Kafka’s life as it starts explaining- “This paper will look into the text to show how this is a story about the author’s personal life portrayed through his dream-like fantasies”- The novel does an outstanding job representing this tone by the way Kafka writes it. He lived through this and that’s why the tone is easy to understand. He writes his personal life with fantasy.

Motif: Everyone goes through a metamorphosis. Gregor mentally changes when he has to adapt to the roles of an insect and he physically changes when he wakes up transformed into a bug. The novel describes, “As if this were a sign to Gregor that you needed teeth to eat with and that even with the best make of toothless jaws you couldn’t do a thing” (Kafka 34). Grete undergoes a transformation of being immature and young. The beginning of the novel describes her, “Of course it was not only childish defiance and the self-confidence she had recently acquired so unexpectedly and at such a cost that led her to make this demand” (Kafka 25). The novel explains more about her age, “Perhaps, however, the romantic enthusiasm of girls her age, which seeks to indulge itself at every opportunity” (Kafka 25). It describes the young age she is at and how she reacts to her brother’s metamorphosis at this age. In the end she matured by helping the family financially and growing into a young woman as the novel explains, “As they watched their daughter getting livelier and livelier, that lately, in spite of all the troubles which had turned her cheeks pale, she had blossomed into a good-looking, shapely girl” (Kafka 42). There are many other motifs, but this one stood out the most to me.

Theme: People separate themselves from society and begin to turn into something that does not have societal characteristics. Gregor is emotionally and physically separated from the world, even from his family, “Admittedly no one paid attention to him” (Kafka 35). He’s in his room 24/7 and never leaves. He abandons himself from his family and becomes an insect, but dies because of suffocating his life from others. He has no other outside relationships besides his family.


Character Development: Gregor is an insect although he still has human characteristics, such as wishing he could be around his family. Gregor shows this throw the novel, “Sometimes he thought that the next time the door opened he would take charge of the family’s affairs again, just as he had done in the old days” (Kafka 31). He always would say comments about the old days and how he use to be apart of the family. In the beginning the family loves him and takes care of him. In the middle and the end, they forget about him and abandon him from the family. Grete, Gregor’s sister, tells her father, “We have to get rid of it” (Kafka 37).

Franz Kafka

Marxist Literary Lens

A Marxist literary lens looks at the relationship between economic and political power.

Marxism in The Metamorphosis

Formalist Literary Lens

Tries to look at allegorical implications, as well as close attention to the meanings of metaphors or motifs for a deeper understanding.

Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

Gregor acts as he normally would even though he has become a beetle; only after he is treated like an animal does he begin acting like one.This makes Gregor any number of stigmatized things, and the family and other people observers.

Gregor is dead.

Consider instead that Gregor hasn't magically transformed into a bug, but that he has instead died in his sleep. The beetle, then, serves to be Gregor's "tomb," "grave," "memory," or even "corpse." He acts casually despite his "death," casually speaking to his worried mother, "Yes, yes, thanks Mother, I'm just getting up" (Kafka 5). Once Gregor is revealed, the reactions of the family are full of awe (awful?). The same could be said with the discovery of a corpse. The manager reacts by putting his hand "far out towards the staircase, as if nothing less than an unearthly deliverance were awaiting him there" (Kafka 13). Through further inquiry, one could infer that Gregor is just a "ghost," and that he was "dead" from the beginning.

Motif of the Door

One motif in Kafka's story is doors. Gregor's room, which he is confined to for the vast majority of the story and his life as a vermin, contains doors on three of the four walls; one double door as an entry to the family room and two side doors. The fourth wall contains a window with a view to a hospital, which Gregor's family never thinks to take him to (relating to Elliott's idea of Gregor's death through the entire story). (multiple doors representing his conscience/goodvsevil). The opportunities are there for Gregor's escape from this self-proclaimed dreary life, but he chooses not to escape the prison he has encased himself in. Gregor confines himself within this prison of a room physically. He takes special care to lock each door into his room every night, out of his traveling salesman habits. He locks himself in and the rest of the world, especially his family, out. He longs to see his mother but both he and Grete and his father refuse. His sister is the only one to enter his room, and even her interest wanes as she grows older and becomes more frustrated with the situation. Gregor confines himself emotionally as well. He travels for a living, and has surely had much opportunity to leave his home. He sits on trains for hours; he could have stayed on a train until it took him far away and never returned. But he keeps returning to take care of his family and fulfill his obligation as the primary income source. In his transformation he still only worries about his family's well being instead of the implications it has put on himself. He has escaped a portion of his problem through his transformation in not being able to work anymore, but ultimately realizes that the only thing left to do in order to escape the confines of his family and to alleviate their pain is death.

Biographical Lens

Religion: Jewish, Antisemitism in Prague, Max Brod: "convinced several generations of scholars that his parables were part of an elaborate quest for an unreachable God"

Kafka was Jewish all of his life and faced anti-Semitism in his birthplace of Prague (b. 1883). Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, then Bohemia A close friend of his and fellow writer, Max Brod, “convinced several generations of scholars that his parables were part of an elaborate quest for an unreachable God.” Kafka’s father hoped to assimilate Kafka into the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many Jews in Prague shed their traditional ways and gained rights by assimilating Hebrew name Amschel—pious(devoutly religious/Making a hypocritical display of virtue) and learned; mother’s side of family more traditionally Jewish As he never really did “find God” does this mean his Hebrew name doesn’t fit him and he was never really meant to be part of the Jewish community? Jewish—believe in God, resurrection, Torah, God rewards and punishes Man in Silesia tried to convert him to “Jesus” In this particular letter parts of what he is saying to Felice parallel parts of the novella: “pour myself into it” (64) Harassed by so much=Gregor is burdened with caring for his whole family by working as a travelling businessman which he hates but must do in order to take money in; Kafka has to watch over factory and can’t handle it; Gregor’s way of dealing with it is turning into a vermin which renders him useless and Kafka’s way of dealing with it is turning to a suicide attempt Uncertainty with fiancée= Gregor never has time to keep an intimate relationship because of his family’s expectations Incapable of coping with office=cannot deal with stress of perfect attendance and effort needed to care for his family through business career he is forced into Transformation into a vermin could be an unwanted or unsuccessful conversion from one religion to another, the fact that he’s a vermin proves that he is so far from his old self and the conversion has been negative in that no one wants him any longer, it could represent when at the time in his life he became interested in Yiddish theatre and his dad did not accept it because it went along with Jewish’s old ways which was not accepted in the society Kafka and his family lived in


figures of speech symbolism imagery


- human to bug- now dependent on others instead of others being dependent on him- relationship with his family


figures of speech

New Historical Lens

1912 Writing of Metamorphosis: Met Felice Bauer this year

Wrote "The Judgement" with Felice in mind in September. The following November and December wrote "The Metamorphosis". This is intriguing because of the woman Gregor describes in the novella, "It showed a lady done up in a fur hat and fur boa, sitting upright and raising up against the viewer a heavy fur muff in which her whole arm had disappeared" (1). "He saw hanging on the wall the picture of the lady all dressed in furs, hurridly crawled upon it and pressed himslef against the glass, which gave a good surface to stick to and soothed his hot belly," (26). This  is the part where Gregor Samsa's mother and sister are "depriving him of everything he loved." Kafka wrote to Felice about himself and his feelings, he constantly had her in his mind.

Translations by Stanley Corngold

Manuscript Revisions



Novels and Stories

These other examples show the fascination that humans have with metamorphosis. Especially since both novels are top sellers and quite popular novels.




Literary Influences and Movements

Written in 1915 in German other books published in 1915: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gillman The Valley of Fear by Arthur Doyle The Good Soldier by Ford Hueffer


Birth of a Nation premiere Beginning of Armenian Genocide Sinking of the Lusitania Italy joins the allies

1915 ART Styles

expressionism- showing of one objective viewpoint on the world. *Kafka writes solely from Gregor's point of view. His family's reactions can be gleaned solely from his descriptions. "Gregor though he even caught a grateful look when time he cautiously lifted the sheet a little with his head in order to see how his sister was taking the new arrangement"(Kafka 23). *also a refutation of realism. Gregor is a bug - not realism. other types of literature: Weimar literature, symbolism.

"No single interpretation invalidates or finally delivers the story's significance." (Straus 126)

"Kafka reached the height of his mastery: he wrote something which he could never surpass..." (Preface ix)

The Metamorphosis by Ovid

Ovid’s Metamorphosis -series of stories in Greek mythology in 17 or 18 bc -all books contain a metamorphosis usually influenced by the Gods *mostly for punishment *inability to speak afterwards *demonstrates the superiority of the gods - Gregor’s family is superior to him after the change. They are indirectly superior before as well, in that he is the sole contributor to dismantling a debt made by his parents. “If I didn’t hold back for my parent’s sake, I would’ve quit long ago” (Kafka 4). -Generally broken down into four parts: 1.Gods acting like humans 2. Humans suffering because of Gods 3. Humans suffering because of humans 4. Humans becoming Gods *parallel to Metamorphosis



Venus in Furs, 1870 + Name Gregor +Submitting to an authority +Woman first rejects the idea, but eventually embraces it because she has discovered its advantages.


+What is the significance of the beginning of the story? Does it affect the reader by its starting with Gregor as a bug rather than us first being introduced to him as a human? +Kafka's use of long paragraphs with few breaks +Long sentences often containing many clauses

Time Sequencing

+Linear +Direct Statements: "he found himself transformed" (Kafka 3). +Effect of monotonous setting (Gregor's room/the apartment for the entire novel) --> At times, this confuses us regarding the length of time that Gregor has been transformed (how long is it?) +The author seems to spend a significant amount of time detailing the first morning of Gregor's transformation, then noting less with each subsequent day. Why? WIth what effect?  

Point of View

+How would our considerations of the novel change if it had been told through the point of view of Grete? The maid? Gregor's father? Gregor's mother? +Each of these changes would effect the atmosphere and tone of the novel +Allows the audience to understand the disgust with which the family views Gregor +Points mentioned in link

All-topic notes

(to be uploaded, enhanced with points brought up in class, after discussion)



1. The quality or condition of being feminine. 2. A characteristic or trait traditionally held to be female. 3. Women considered as a group. 4. Effeminacy.


1. To castrate. 2. To deprive of strength or vigor; weaken.

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