The Metamorphosis Book Summary | Franz Kafka | Ratings & Review | 2023

Start your review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a novella that was first published in 1915. The story revolves around the transformation of the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, into an insect. The novella is considered one of the most significant works of literature in the 20th century and has been translated into numerous languages.

Key points

The story begins with Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, waking up to find himself transformed into an insect. He struggles to adjust to his new body and is unable to communicate with his family, who are shocked and disgusted by his transformation. Gregor’s family, who depend on him for their financial support, gradually grows resentful of him and begins to neglect him.

As the story progresses, Gregor’s physical condition deteriorates, and he becomes increasingly isolated. His family begins to see him as a burden and eventually decides to get rid of him. The climax of the novella is when Gregor dies, and his family feels a sense of relief and freedom.

The Metamorphosis is a complex work that deals with themes such as alienation, identity, and the human condition. The story explores the idea of how people can become alienated from their own bodies, their families, and society. The novella also highlights the theme of the dehumanization of the modern world, where people are reduced to mere machines and are no longer seen as individuals.

Why I recommend this book

The Metamorphosis is a thought-provoking work that will challenge the reader’s perceptions of the world around them. Kafka’s writing style is distinctive and immersive, and the novella is filled with symbolism and allegory. The story is not just about a man turning into an insect, but it is also an exploration of the human condition and the struggle to maintain one’s identity in a world that seeks to reduce us to machines.

The novella is also a masterpiece of modernist literature and a seminal work of existentialism. It paved the way for future writers who explored similar themes in their works, such as Samuel Beckett and Albert Camus. The Metamorphosis is a must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of modern literature and the exploration of the human psyche.

Why I don’t recommend this book

The Metamorphosis can be a challenging read for some readers, particularly those who are not familiar with modernist literature or existentialism. The novella’s dark and depressing tone can also be off-putting for some readers, and the story’s focus on Gregor’s physical condition may be disturbing for some.

Additionally, the novella’s length may be a deterrent for some readers, as it is a relatively short work but requires close attention and analysis. The Metamorphosis is not a light read and requires some effort on the reader’s part to fully appreciate its complexities.

The Metamorphosis Sparknotes

The Metamorphosis is a novella by Franz Kafka that tells the story of Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman who wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a large insect-like creature. The story follows Gregor’s struggles as he tries to come to terms with his new form, and the way his family reacts to his transformation.

The novella is a complex exploration of themes such as identity, isolation, and the absurdity of life. Kafka’s writing style is characterized by its stark simplicity and use of surreal imagery, which creates a haunting and disorienting atmosphere throughout the story.

Overall, The Metamorphosis is a fascinating and enigmatic work of literature that has captivated readers for generations.

The Metamorphosis characters

These characters play important roles in the development of the novella’s themes and in the exploration of the human condition.

Gregor SamsaA traveling salesman who wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a large insect-like creature.
Mr. Samsa (Gregor’s father)An ineffectual and weak-willed man who relies on Gregor for financial support, but later becomes aggressive and abusive towards his son.
Mrs. Samsa (Gregor’s mother)A kind and caring woman, but she is unable to cope with her son’s transformation and eventually becomes distant and cold towards him.
Grete Samsa (Gregor’s sister)Initially sympathetic towards Gregor and takes care of him, but she eventually becomes frustrated and resentful towards him as he becomes more of a burden on the family.
The maidWorks for the Samsa family and helps take care of Gregor.
BoardersVarious individuals who come to live with the Samsa family in order to help with their financial difficulties.

The Metamorphosis Famous Quotes with Explanation

These quotes showcase some of the most memorable and impactful lines from The Metamorphosis, and they provide insight into Kafka’s exploration of complex themes such as isolation, power, and societal pressures.

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”This opening line sets the stage for the entire novella and introduces the central plot device of Gregor’s transformation.
“I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.”This quote highlights the theme of isolation and the inability of individuals to truly connect with one another.
“I’ll lie down for a little while now,” he told himself and tried to get out of bed, but he was still held back by the same weakness as before.”This quote shows how Gregor’s physical transformation is also accompanied by a sense of psychological and emotional weakness.
“The father, hissed to Gregor through the crack: “Open up, I beg of you, open up, you have nothing to fear from me. I’m a reasonable human being.”This quote highlights the theme of power dynamics and the way in which individuals can become abusive and manipulative when they hold a position of authority.
“That gentle voice! Gregor couldn’t hold back the tears at these words of his sister, the first words of sympathy she had ever spoken to him.”This quote shows the way in which Grete’s attitude towards Gregor shifts over the course of the novella and highlights the theme of familial relationships.
“I’ll get dressed right away now, pack up my samples and set off. Will you please just let me leave? You can see,” he said to the manager, “that I’m not stubborn and I like to do my job; being a commercial traveller is arduous but without travelling I couldn’t earn my living.”This quote highlights the theme of societal pressures and the way in which individuals can become trapped in a cycle of work and obligation.


The Metamorphosis is a masterpiece of modernist literature that has stood the test of time. It is a thought-provoking work that challenges the reader’s perceptions of the world and the human condition. While it may not be for everyone, I highly recommend this novella to anyone interested in the evolution of modern literature, the exploration of the human psyche, and the search for meaning in an increasingly dehumanized world. The Metamorphosis is a work that will leave a lasting impression on its readers and is a must-read for any serious reader.

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