Writers never get short of subjects just like the musicians who never miss a note. They have a weird internal quality of separating the truth from fiction through the depths of depravity. This is why all the novels, biographies, and short stories are interconnected. They seize the readers from the start and if the subject is catchy, the audience will go through a vocal journey inside the pages. The scribblers do have that kind of influence over their readers.
You must be familiar with Kafka’s ‘METAMORPHOSIS’. It is an amazing story with a hair-raising beginning and a dangerous end. What if one fine day you get up from your bed and find yourself transformed into a tiny insect? A roach for instance? Isn’t that a precarious and bizarre thought? This is what Kafka does to his readers here. He takes a subject that does not fit in to the ordinary universe and makes it psychologically appealing and very intense to believe.
The protagonist Gregor Samsa rules the book through his vile form. The writer has not shown a great deal of difference between the first and the third person. The focus is on the world that Gregor experiences through his roach form and how miserable is his life. His family does not think him as important and treats him below his dignity in spite of everything. The setting is between the four walls of the house excluding the last episode. Kafka portrays the ordinariness of his family connected with the worldly-wise. A combination of the real and illusory facts makes this piece exceptionally interesting. Entire story is termed as ‘Absurd’ and its themes are used in plays.
We all have that little animal instinct in us. This impulse is symbolised by the lowest form of humiliation felt by a human. The man thinks that he is so unworthy of living that he should be thrown into the spider webs or should hide under the bed or sofa for forever. Why is he so disgusted with his presence? What is so unbearable about him that makes him feel contemptible of love Let us go through his journey and understand his condition.
Kafka’s portrayal of his pitiful protagonist becomes eye-catching when even in the form of an insect he tries to get ready for office or tries to sit with his mother. It is a teary situation for the readers as they think he has not lost hopes of becoming normal again. He believes that this situation is a mere hallucination and it will pass but it does not and he falls deep into the depths of nothingness until all is lost and he dies.
Gregor is a subjugated person. His family does not accept his break of punctuality even at this condition. His father constantly scrutinizes his actions and it feels like he is a puppet dancing to their tunes. They are not bothered about his existence but only care about his salary.
As we move on in the story, we witness his desperate attempts to make him look important in his folks. Gregor feels happy when his sister comes to clean his room and looks at him with a strange face. He munches on the leftovers and it is a gory description. That is how insects feed themselves and no matter how hard Gregor tries, he never gets past his ordinariness.
A small but significant part is shown when the office clerk comes at his house because Gregor missed the train. He is polite at first but loses his nerves when Gregor does not answer his questions. This is really a humane-inhumane situation where Gregor tries to stay civil by lowering his voice and being modest while communicating. He wants to speak aloud but is afraid that it might sound too harsh to his senior. It is heart breaking and mocks at the fake codes of civility Even as a transformed insect, the protagonist does not lose his trail of politeness. Kafka appears as a brilliant writer here. He mingles the vile into the humane, and succeeds.
His family does not understand Gregor’s miserable condition but he senses everything. He can hear the folding of the fabric when his sister Greta changes her dress. This insect-man can feel and sense the tiniest of change around him and suffering through this condition he desperately tries to fight for his family’s plight. We can see the sheer pitiable condition of our protagonist when he shouts and pleads to his head-clerk. The saddest part is his father without even trying to understand his motive, throws him back in the room and he is defeated.
Gregor loves the accessories in his room. He wants to stay in the same condition but his dearest sister appears, takes away everything, and leaves him and his room vacant and lifeless. This hurts him like hell, as he loved his sister more than he loved anyone else
Greta kept him connected with his family when he was living a normal life. However, circumstances changed and so did his sister. He loves her and she vehemently despises him. It is clearly symbolised through her actions. The last episode shows an abyss in their relationship.
Gregor is unable to take this vehemence and decides to die at the end. In a soothing and serene atmosphere when the clock stroke three and symbolised the time of dawn, our dear protagonist entered the light into his soul. He fell on the floor, busted his head, and departed for heaven.
It was over.
I am not sure that I was able to give justice to this summary of this great novel but if you read it by yourself, you will pass through that phase of “Gregory’s gory condition”.
Metamorphosis is truly a legendary book in terms of portraying a living human’s humility, pain and his miserable condition. So painful that he wishes to be transformed into an insect to save himself and desperately crave for some attention. Directly or indirectly, the novelist has reflected the psychological condition of people who suffer from inferiority complex and instead of loving them their family deprave and disgusts them to a level where they have no choice but to leave for the final exit.