Friday, February 8, 2013


FULL TITLE · The Metamorphosis

AUTHOR · Franz Kafka

TYPE OF WORK · Short story/novella

GENRE · Absurdism


TIME/PLACE WRITTEN · Prague, Eastern Europe, 1912


 PUBLISHER · Kurt Wolff Verlag

 NARRATOR · The narrator is an anonymous figure who recounts the events of the story in a flat, neutral tone.

POINT OF VIEW · The narrator speaks exclusively in the third person, focusing primarily on the thoughts, feelings, and actions of Gregor Samsa. The narrator only describes events that Gregor sees, hears, remembers, or imagines from the actions around him.

TONE · The narrator’s tone is flat and unchanging, describing even the most outlandish events in a neutral fashion.

TENSE · Past tense

SETTING (TIME) · Unspecified, though references to trains and streetcars suggest the late-nineteenth century or early twentieth century

SETTING (PLACE) · The Samsa family’s apartment in an unspecified city

PROTAGONIST · Gregor Samsa

OTHER MAJOR CHARACTERS · His parents and sister, GRETE.

MAJOR CONFLICT · Gregor Samsa struggles to reconcile his humanity with his transformation into a giant bug (insect).

RISING ACTION · When Gregor Samsa wakes up inexplicably transformed into a giant bug, he must handle the consequences in terms of his understanding of himself and his relationship with his family

CLIMAX · Unable to bear the thought that all evidence of his human life will be removed from his room, he clings to the picture of the woman in furs, startling Grete and the mother and leading the father to attack him

FALLING ACTION · Gregor, injured in the father’s attack, slowly weakens, venturing out of his room once more to hear Grete play the violin and dying shortly thereafter

THEMES · (Topical issues that run through the story.) The absurdity of life; the disconnect between mind and body; the limits of sympathy; alienation

MOTIFS · (A recurring element of symbolic significance.) Metamorphosis; sleep and rest; money

SYMBOLS · (symbol is a person, place, or object that has a literal meaning and also stands for something larger, such as an idea or an emotion.) The picture of the woman in furs; the father’s uniform; food

FORESHADOWING · Gregor is seriously injured after he leaves the room a second time and he stops eating and sleeping, foreshadowing his eventual death; the family gradually takes less interest in Gregor, foreshadowing their decision to get rid of him.

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