Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis

This is the second book I read by Franz Kafka, the first being The Trial, which I wasn’t really impressed by. However, I heard this book is Kafka’s best, so I decided to give his writing a second chance.

Release: 1915

Page Count: 98

Format: Audiobook (read by Benedict Cumberbatch!)

Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing — though absurdly comic — meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction.”

Review:

There are honestly two ways to take this novella: literally and allegorically. Personally, I believe even an allegorical story should be interesting in a literal sense. Luckily, I think this book does both well. It’s an interesting, if sad, story about a young man who wakes up as a giant insect and must live in complete isolation as his family becomes horrified by him. The story makes you think. I felt bad for Gregor, the young man, and I understood and yet hated his parents and sister. They are disgusted by his appearance, no longer loving or trying to understand him.

After finishing reading this book, I did look up some theories scholars have put forth of the meaning of this story. Obviously, it is filled with themes of acceptance, feeling alone, and betrayal. Some of the theories have to do with Gregor and his sister Grete as being a pair or opposites of each other, like Gerhard Rieck stated. Others have stated the meaning of the story has to do with Gregor’s deprived existence, where his meaning in life is only his work, which slowly leads to him succumbing to a creature of only his profession.

The one thing I really like about this story is it is what it is, and you can draw your own ideas and theories from it that you like. I’m honestly not sure if there is one right answer.

There was one aspect I found most interesting. In the beginning, the four-person family relies on only Gregor’s income to support themselves, living off him to survive. When he turns into an insect and can no longer work, his family is forced to get jobs, resenting him deeply when he was the only one working to support their pleasant lifestyle (Gregor travels and works long hours and his mother and sister get pretty dresses and his father just sits around the house all day doing nothing). Now suddenly they have to take care of him and deeply resent doing just a little, not even caring as he stops eating and slowly starts to die.

The one big SPOILER ALERT is that the story ends with Gregor dying and his family finally feeling happy and content, not having to deal with him anymore.

It is a story of cruelty and neglect, and was truly sad and moving.

Have you read this story or any of Krafka’s other writings? Do you like his writing style or not? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

16 thoughts on “Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  1. As a person with a progressive disability with a body that is becoming less able to function properly with time, I think Gregory’s initial feelings of waking up in a foreign body he literally can’t control is sort of symbolic of disabled people waking up in bodies they can’t control. Related sidenote, I remember studying texts through the lenses of womanhood and race in college, and there should be a disability lens if they haven’t added that yet! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read Metamorphosis in high school. Not because we were assigned it but, me being the typical teenager, identified with Kafka’s theme of isolation. A lot of his works revolve around isolation and being alone, whether that’s in The Trial, Metamorphosis, or in his last (unfinished) work Amerika. I read somewhere that Kafka’s stories are largely based on his own life and the personal struggles he had to face, particularly those of being emotionally isolated and put down by his parents.

    However, now that I’m 30 years old, I think that Kafka’s work tend to be used by younger readers as a form of “edgy” literature to show how “deep” they are, even when they don’t understand what’s really being said. I definitely have come across some people who use Kafka and Nietzsche as their personal nihilistic bibles.

    Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Interesting…I suppose if I really loved his writing, I might be a bit of a nihilist too. However, it is definitely an interesting book to read, if not a bit depressing. I can see how a lot of young people would like his writing, especially if they deal with isolation or depression.

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    2. I definitely agree with your statement that”Kafka’s work tend to be used by younger readers as a form of “edgy” literature to show how “deep” they are”. I finished high school and especially university some time ago now and I remember how there were certain “circles” of students shoving into others’ faces Kafka and Nietzsche to demonstrate the depth of their thinking…and also Camus was added for an effect, I don’t know – part and parcel of the broad existentialism movement probably. I will not pretend I was not influenced by this circle because on some level I was, but, looking at it in retrospect, it no longer looks so “clever” but just demonstrative and even slightly arrogant because, you are right, these young people often do not grasp even the fundamentals – life teaches you that too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this interesting review. I’ve always been intrigued by Kafka although I have never read any of his works. I do have a copy of The Castle and hopefully I get to read it this year.

    On another note, I love how committed you are to Classics. I read your review on The Lord of Flies and now this. All the best on your adventures and hoping to read more of your thoughts on the classics, and whatever book you may be reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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