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Free Study Guide-The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka-Online Book Summary
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THEMES ANALYSIS

The theme of "The Metamorphosis" is modern man's sense of isolation. Driven to work long hours in meaningless jobs around people who do not care about others, just like Gregor, mankind seems to live a meaningless and ineffectual existence. Although Gregor's metamorphosis is actual and physical, Kafka implies through his change that all too often mankind is forced into an insect-like existence, no better than the bugs at the bottom of the natural order. When mankind tries to rise above their insect status and connect with humanity, as Gregor did when he emerged from his room to see his sister and listen to the violin, they are cruelly driven back into isolation and alienation. Through Gregor, Kafka presents a totally tragic view of man's existence.


Kafka also shows that mankind is driven by materialism, often to the exclusion of developing human relationships. Modern life demands that a person have a job to earn money to fulfill materialistic desires. The materialistic mind-set usually enslaves the individual and transforms him into a beast or insect who does not have time to care for others. Gregor is the perfect example. He hates his job as a salesman but endures it in order to provide material things for his family. In order to have and give financial security, he sacrifices a social life, companionship, pleasure, and dreams. His life is miserable, and he counts the days until he can quit his job.

Ironically, the people that he supports and loves prove they have no depth of emotion for him. Once he cannot financially care for them, they one by one desert him, adding to his total misery. Gregor is literally left to climb the walls and die in total alimentation. Through him, Kafka is warning modern society that it is being forced into an existence similar to that of Gregor.

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