Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman, wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a horrible vermin.
At the risk of sounding abysmally ignorant, let me confess, when I first read this line, I assumed The Metamorphosis to be a horror story on the lines of The Fly. I was even a little afraid, I have to admit. I was unfamiliar with Kafka’s work prior to this, so that one line could take me anywhere. I was, needless to say, wrong.
The Metamorphosis is not a book you read for pleasure. It is a book you read to analyze everything out of it. It is not a book that you enjoy, it is one you appreciate. It is the kind of book you study, the kind of book about which your English teacher asks you to write an essay.
As already mentioned, Gregor Samsa finds that he has turned into an insect one morning. He realizes with a jolt that he has overslept and missed his train to work. Right then, the chief clerk from his office comes to his house to find out why he missed work that morning. Gregor struggles to get out of bed, and to open the door, but he finally does, to the horror of the chief clerk and his family. His mother faints, his sister begins to cry, and his father tries to kill him every chance he gets.
This novella is not the kind of horror story you’re thinking of – no monsters under the bed – but it is still a horror story. It is the story of a man who has become unrecognizable to himself and has become a burden to his family. It is sad, pathetic. It is an allegory – if you look at Gregor’s relationships with his family, you’d find you are reading about a very real man – a plight none of us would wish to happen to us or anyone we know, but not entirely impossible, considering no one knows the course of life. I do not mean we will turn into insects, but imagine being bedridden or becoming an invalid or in some way, not contributing to the world and life – would your family still stick by you? Terrifying isn’t it?
The Metamorphosis is not the story I went looking for, but certainly a story I needed to read. It is unnerving, and believe me, you will not read another book like this one.
Get it here: Amazon