Die verwandlung opens with the sentence as gregor

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"Die Verwandlung" opens with the sentence: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from un- easy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." The dependent clause tells us of the real world, and—such is Kafka's subtle style—something important about the hero's previous life. The main clause shifts immediately to Gregor's metaphorical state. During the last night, in which he had fallen asleep in bed as a man, Gregor had ' 'uneasy dreams," the result of an inner unrest; and his thoughts upon awakening reveal what caused them. He complains about the physical discomfort of the commercial traveler, but also about something much more important, about the dehumanizing effect of his job due to the always changing human contacts, which never lead to close personal relations. Worst of all, he feels humiliated by the head of the firm, who has the disgusting habit of sitting on a high desk, so he can talk down to his employees. Although by ordinary literary and hu- man standards a miserable creature, this man shares with many another authoritative character the di- vine honors bestowed upon him by an allegorizer: "The description of Gregor's boss has breadth enough to apply not just to a petty office tyrant, but V o l u m e 12 2 0 1
The M e t a m o r p h o s i s The assertion that 'one really had to admit that possibility' that the manager would some day awaken as a bug is typical of Kafka's wry humor; at the same time, it hints at the possibility that a human being may awaken to the insight that he is a "bug, 1 a person without character and, consequently, without human dignity." even to an [ sic ] Old Testament God. Indeed, the reference to the high desk echoes the Old Testament metaphor of the God 'most high' who yet can 'hear' us." This "petty office tyrant" would fulminate against Gregor should he be late for work. Since, as Gregor firmly believes, his parents owe his em- ployer money he has to stay with the despised job for five or six more years. Such reflections have occupied Gregor's mind for some while before the catastrophe and have made him lose faith in himself and in the Tightness of his life, as had also happened to Georg Bendemann. In the author's fictitious world, Gregor has become what he had metaphorically been for a long time: an insect. As if to ward off subsequent critical misinter- pretation of the events described in this story as nightmares of a neurotic, the narrator explains in the second sentence: "It was no dream: his room, a regular bedroom, only rather too small, lay quiet between the four familiar walls." Gregor had his breakthrough to self-recognition, and the implied metaphor—something like ' 'I am really a spineless bug"—is at once fused with the realistically de- scribed life he leads between the four walls of his room.

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