Metamorphosis: Summary/Analysis

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The Metamorphosis is the story of a commercial traveler, Gregor Samsa,

that one morning awoke turned into a gigantic insect. It is no dream

but, simply and plainly, a real metamorphosis with no rhetoric in

between. Facing this incredible fact, Kafka does not do any realistic

concessions and keeps the new condition of the character to the end.

That makes of The metamorphosis a hard work of fiction, in the way of

Odyssey (with which, besides, it is closely related) or in the way of

the Medieval fairy tales, specially those in which the wicked witch

turns The Prince Charming into a hideous animal.

>From the other side, the work, that belongs to a trilogy about marriage

in relation to the individual, the family and the so-ciety written by

Kafka, has a highly autobiographical contain. In The Judgment the

subject is the engagement assumed as a treason to the literary calling;

in The metamorphosis there is a view of marriage and family relations

from a masochistic and incestuous perspective; in The Trial, it is the

settlement of accounts, related with the incapacity of accomplishing the

acquired compro-mises, according to an unwritten law, he must pay. In

the three cases, the story ends with the protagonist's death.

The Metamorphosis is built on a fiction level with two faces, Crime and

Punishment by Dostoevsky and Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch,

superposed in a way they get in contact with a real level with two faces

too, the family relations and his dreams of Felice. By the merging of

theses two levels, Kafka gets a fantastic reality which allows him to

express his deepest dreams and desires in relation with marriage and sex

in a poetic language that turns The Metamorphosis into a classic of

erotism, aspect not considered until now. (Such a pleiad, Kafka, Sacher-

Masoch and Dostoesky, met in The Metamorphosis turns into a height of

masochism this work).


The Metamorphosis has three parts: the first one describes both the

transformation of Gregory and his family's reaction to this respect; the

second part shows the new cotidianity of the fami-liar group whose

fragile estability crush with Gregory and sis-ter's bringing face to

face; and the last part, where we attend Gregory's frustrated attemp of

reconquering his sister, ends with his death.

The foreground onto which Kafka builds his work is Dostoevsky's novel.

This one brings to him a textual base that he lightly, mainly through

substitutions, varies for adapting it to the intentions of his own

story. For the first part of The Meta-morphosis, Kafka takes three

awakenings of Raskolnikov -as an animal, as a murderer and as a guilty

man-. With them he assembles the first scenes of the narrative. Taken

into account the scenes Kafka selects from Crime and Punishment, the

traditio-nal version of an angelical Gregory, victim of both family and

society, results a suspicious one.

The Metamorphosis begins with the awakening of Gregory as an insect. In

a first paragraph that makes part of the unforgetable beginnings of

literature, Kafka describes it: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from

uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic

insect. He was lying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when

he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly

divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could

hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His

numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his

bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes."

This extraordinary beginning is a variant of the beginning of the third

chapter of the first part of Crime and Punishment, where Dostoevsky

describes the state of abandonment and loneliness at which Raskolnikov,

whom he portraits as a withdrawed-into-his-shell animal,...
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