“The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka- Summary, Analysis, Characters & Themes

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About the Story: The Metamorphosis

TitleThe Metamorphosis
AuthorFranz Kafka
GenreShort story, Absurdist, Surrealist
SettingGregor Samsa’s apartment and office in Prague, Austria-Hungary
PlotGregor Samsa, a young travelling salesman, wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect. He is unable to work and becomes a burden to his family, who struggle to cope with his new form and their deteriorating financial situation. Gregor’s isolation and alienation from his family grow as he becomes increasingly confined to his room.
SymbolismGregor’s insect form, the room, the family’s reactions
Literary devicesFirst-person narration, stream of consciousness, symbolism, irony
StyleKafka’s prose is characterized by its use of vivid imagery, surreal elements, and a sense of alienation.

Analysis: The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka is a surreal and thought-provoking story about a man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one day to find himself transformed into a giant insect. As Gregor grapples with his new insect form, he also faces rejection from his family and society. The story looks into the absurdity of human existence and the difficulty of maintaining one’s humanity in the face of overwhelming circumstances.

Characters: The Metamorphosis

The characters of “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka are:

  1. Gregor Samsa: The main character who undergoes the metamorphosis.
  2. Mr. Samsa (Father): Gregor’s father, who becomes hostile and unsupportive after Gregor’s transformation.
  3. Mrs. Samsa (Mother): Gregor’s mother, who initially cares for him but later becomes fearful and distant.
  4. Grete Samsa (Sister): Gregor’s sister, who initially takes care of him but later grows weary of the burden.


The themes of “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka are:

  1. Isolation and Alienation: The main character, Gregor Samsa, experiences a profound sense of isolation and alienation from his family and society after his transformation into a giant insect.
  2. Family Dynamics: The story explores how Gregor’s transformation affects his relationship with his family, revealing underlying tensions and dynamics within the Samsa household.
  3. Dehumanization: Gregor’s metamorphosis symbolizes the dehumanizing effects of societal expectations and pressures, as he is treated more like a burden than a human being by his family.
  4. Absurdity of Existence: The story delves into the absurdity of human existence, questioning the meaning and purpose of life through the bizarre and inexplicable transformation of the protagonist.
  5. Symbology of the Insect: The insect serves as a powerful symbol, representing Gregor’s loss of humanity, his feelings of insignificance, and society’s tendency to devalue individuals who deviate from the norm.

Watch Full Video Summary of “The Metamorphosis”

The Metamorphosis Summary

The story begins with Gregor waking up in his bed, realizing that something is amiss. As he attempts to get out of bed, he discovers that his body has been transformed into that of a monstrous bug.

The initial reaction of Gregor is one of shock and disbelief. He tries to make sense of his new physical form and the limitations it imposes on him. Despite his insect-like appearance, Gregor’s thoughts and emotions remain human. This stark contrast between his inner self and outer appearance becomes a central theme throughout the story.

The sudden transformation throws Gregor’s life into disarray. He was the sole breadwinner for his family, working as a traveling salesman to pay off his parents’ debts and support his sister Grete’s education. However, the transformation hinders his ability to continue his work and fulfill his responsibilities.

The family, unaware of Gregor’s transformation, becomes concerned when he fails to emerge from his room. Gregor’s boss arrives at the Samsa household to inquire about his absence. In a desperate attempt to explain his situation, Gregor attempts to speak but is unable to produce any comprehensible words. The boss, unable to understand Gregor’s condition, becomes agitated and leaves, warning Gregor of the consequences of his prolonged absence.

As days pass, Gregor’s family becomes increasingly worried about him. They try to communicate with him through the closed bedroom door, but Gregor’s attempts to respond only result in incomprehensible insect-like noises. The once harmonious family dynamic begins to crumble under the strain of Gregor’s transformation.

One day, Gregor’s sister Grete decides to enter his room, overcoming her initial fear and repulsion. She brings him food, attempting to cater to his insect-like tastes. However, as time progresses, Grete’s initial sympathy turns to frustration and disgust. She begins to view Gregor as a burden on the family, and her attitude towards him changes.

The family’s financial situation worsens as Gregor’s inability to work continues. His father, initially passive and disinterested, becomes increasingly hostile towards him. The family’s once comfortable lifestyle is replaced by one of financial struggle and emotional strain.

One evening, the Samsa family decides to move some of the furniture out of Gregor’s room to give him more space. This marks a turning point in the story, as it symbolizes the family’s growing acceptance of Gregor’s transformation. As the furniture is removed, Gregor feels a sense of liberation despite the increasing isolation.

The breaking point comes when the family decides to invite guests over to their home. Gregor’s presence is hidden from the guests, and his family is ashamed of him. The once-beloved son has become a shameful secret, hidden away from the outside world.

The climax of the story occurs when Gregor accidentally reveals himself to the guests. The shock and horror of seeing a giant insect lead the guests to flee in disgust. This event further strains the relationship between Gregor and his family, and it becomes evident that any hope of normalcy or acceptance is lost.

In the face of rejection and isolation, Gregor’s physical condition deteriorates. He becomes weak and malnourished, unable to move or eat. His family, who once depended on him, now views him as a burden to be rid of. The once vibrant and hopeful young man is reduced to a pitiful creature on the brink of death.

The story concludes with Gregor’s death. His family, relieved of the burden of caring for him, experiences a sense of freedom. They decide to take a day off to relax and enjoy life, as if Gregor’s tragic existence had never been a part of their lives.

“The Metamorphosis” is a powerful exploration of the human condition and the fragility of societal relationships. Through the lens of Gregor’s transformation, Kafka delves into themes of isolation, alienation, and the dehumanizing effects of societal expectations. The story serves as a poignant commentary on the way society treats those who deviate from the norm and the impact of such treatment on individuals and their families.


What is the story The Metamorphosis about?

A traveling salesman wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect, struggling to cope with his new form and the impact it has on his family.

What kind of creature has Gregor become?

Gregor Samsa transforms into an unspecified large insect.

Why is Metamorphosis so popular?

The Metamorphosis is popular because it explores universal themes of alienation, isolation, and transformation in a way that is both disturbing and thought-provoking.

What happens when Gregor tries to roll over?

Gregor struggles to roll over due to his newfound insect-like body.

Is Metamorphosis a horror story?

While the story involves a man transforming into an insect, it is not a traditional horror story but rather a surreal exploration of alienation and transformation.

What bug is Gregor in Metamorphosis?

The specific type of insect Gregor transforms into is left ambiguous, but he is described as a large, monstrous vermin, possibly a beetle or a cockroach.

Why did Gregor sacrifice himself?

Overwhelmed by guilt and isolation, Gregor sacrificed himself to release his family from the burden of his transformed existence.

What does Gregor’s death symbolize?

Gregor’s death symbolizes the end of his family’s struggles and his own release from isolation and suffering.

Why does Gregor’s mother faint?

Gregor’s mother faints due to the shock and horror of seeing her son’s sudden and grotesque transformation into a giant insect.

What is the ending of story?

After his family’s neglect and his own isolation, Gregor Samsa dies, leaving his family to move on with their lives.

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