What if you woke up tomorrow and were now a human sized insect. You can no longer communicate, but you can understand everything that is happening around you. What do you do? How do you handle this situation? This is essentially the premise of The Metamorphosis.
Kafka truly doesn’t care about how or why this event occurs. He doesn’t even bother to try and explain it. He’s interested in how the characters deal with the event and how they move forward from it. Gregor, the character who transforms from human to insect, actually gets caught up in trivial things like being late for work or how he can be more considerate of others, due to his grotesque state. (Um…Dude, you are a giant bug?! Who cares about catching the train, you can’t even roll out of bed! Also, did I mention you are a bug now!?) His family slowly starts to neglect him more and more, basically only tolerating his presence, and they no longer seem to associate him as human or even once human.
I suppose one can search for deeper meaning in this story or look for some higher societal message. Certainly, there are issues and parallels ripe for the picking here. However, it is also possible that Kafka honestly just thought, “What if a person woke up as a giant insect? What would happen or what wouldn’t happen? Let’s explore that!” It honestly could be just THAT simple.
One comparison I did find myself making was to Night by Elie Wiesel. Night is the author’s true account of surviving Auschwitz during World War II. These are completely different stories and circumstances, but what I found myself comparing is the human’s ability to quickly adapt to the most horrible of circumstances. What I have concluded is that the ability to adapt can be wonderful, but the anecdote about the frog in the boiling water also springs to my mind, and that is terrifying.
Books read: 2