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The Metamorphosis | Study Guide

Franz Kafka

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The Metamorphosis | Quotes


One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.

Narrator, Part 1 (Gregor Wakes Up)

One of the most famous opening lines in modern literature, this sentence captures Kafka's trademark blend of everyday detail and surreal horror, at once funny and chilling—a style so often imitated that it has come to be called Kafkaesque.


Oh, God ... What a strenuous career it is that I've chosen!

Gregor Samsa, Part 1 (Gregor Wakes Up)

Gregor refers to the many challenges of his job as a traveling salesman, which involves daily traveling, worrying about train connections, and a lack of good food and close relationships with customers and colleagues. Together, these factors make Gregor miserable in his job and reflect the theme of alienation in modernist works.


Their business misfortune had reduced the family to a state of total despair, and Gregor's only concern at that time had been to arrange things so that they could all forget about it as quickly as possible.

Narrator, Part 2 (Gregor Reflects on His Family)

Gregor has assumed the role of caretaker for his family and is determined to provide for his parents and sister after his father's misfortune. He assumes his parents' pain and suffering in an attempt to make things better.


Her life up till then had been very enviable, consisting of wearing nice clothes, sleeping late, helping out in the business, joining in with a few modest pleasures and most of all playing the violin.

Narrator, Part 2 (Gregor Reflects on His Family)

Grete, the Samsas' 17-year-old daughter, lives a life of pleasure before Gregor's transformation. Gregor works hard in a job he despises to support this lifestyle.


He was especially fond of hanging from the ceiling; it was quite different from lying on the floor; he could breathe more freely; his body had a light swing to it.

Narrator, Part 2 (Gregor's Mother Comes to His Room)

Gregor grows more accustomed to his body as an insect. Likewise, Gregor feels freer and happier as an insect than as a traveling salesman, given that he can breathe more easily and feels less weighed down by responsibility.


Was that really his father? The same tired man as used to be laying there entombed in his bed when Gregor came back from business trips, who would receive him sitting in his armchair in his nightgown when he came back in the evenings.

Narrator, Part 2 (Gregor's Mother Comes to His Room)

Gregor perceives Mr. Samsa as tired and worn before the older man returns to work. In retirement, Mr. Samsa spent his days eating a leisurely breakfast and reading several newspapers, but he also seemed to Gregor to have no vitality. Coming out of retirement to work as a lowly messenger, Mr. Samsa seems revitalized by the job and the uniform.


Before, he had taken great pride in how considerate he was but now it hardly occurred to him that he had become so thoughtless about the others.

Narrator, Part 3 (A Violin Performance)

Gregor's transformation involves more than just his physical appearance. Although he once put the needs of others (particularly those of his family) before his own, he now realizes that kindness and consideration do not always pay off.


It'll be the death of both of you, I can see it coming.

Grete Samsa, Part 3 (A Violin Performance)

Grete tries to persuade her parents they cannot go on in this manner anymore—working so hard and caring for her brother are too much burden and will result in their ruin. She urges them to take swift action to get rid of Gregor, referring to him as an "it" and insisting he is no longer part of their family.


If it was possible, he felt that he must go away even more strongly than his sister.

Narrator, Part 3 (A Violin Performance)

Gregor feels an unending sense of duty to his family. Earlier in the story that means going to work and bringing in money. At this point, however, it means dying—and relieving his family of the responsibility of caring for him.


Just from each other's glance and almost without knowing it they agreed that it would soon be time to find a good man for her.

Narrator, Part 3 (Epilogue)

Riding the tram to the country for a day off following their son's death, Gregor's parents notice how beautiful and grown up their younger child, Grete, has become. She is no longer a frivolous child who does not understand the concept of hard work; she is a young woman on the brink of marriage. Spring seems to have brought not only their son's death and a much-needed vacation but also the promise of a new, happier chapter in the Samsas' lives.

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