Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Metamorphosis’- by Franz Kafka


Today, I read a Novella (Perhaps a Long short story) called ‘The Metamorphosis’- by Franz Kafka. It has had a profound effect on me to say the least. I remember thinking something similar in those lines of the story, sometime back when I was bed ridden for almost 3 months. The story though a fantasy- or an example of Magic realism that one finds in the works of Rushdie or Marquez- is told allegorically and one notices the unmistaken reference to changing human values in an event of a crisis. It explains the predicaments of a human, being a burden to his family when hit by difficulties. His thoughts and monologues, changing priorities and how the family wishes his death, which the narrator realizes but really cant help himself.  The story ends with the family moving on-like everything else in this world-with their individual lives.

It’s a very poignant story and the insightful narrative by the author is highly commendable.



Below is a Ctrl C-Ctrl V(copy paste) from wikipedia which provides the plot Summery. Though originally written in German,it’s been translated into almost all major languages and English version is freely available- Though wikipedia accuses the version to have many instance of Lost-in-translations.

I suggest you to read it, and I am sure you will find it amazing.


Gregor Samsa awakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed from a human into a monstrous insect. Rather than lament his transformation, Gregor worries about how he will get to his job as a traveling salesman; Gregor is the sole financial provider for his parents and sister, Grete, and their comfort is dependent on his ability to work. When Gregor's supervisor arrives at the house and demands Gregor come out of his room, Gregor manages to roll out of bed and unlock his door. His appearance horrifies his family and supervisor; his supervisor flees and Gregor attempts to chase after him, but his family shoos him back into his room. Grete attempts to care for her brother by providing him with milk and the stale, rotten food he now prefers. Gregor also develops the fears of an insect, being effectively shooed away by hissing voices and stamping feet. However, Gregor remains a devoted and loving son, and takes to hiding beneath a sofa whenever someone enters his room in order to shield them from his insect form. When alone, he amuses himself by looking out of his window and crawling up the walls and on the ceiling.

No longer able to rely on Gregor's income, the other family members are forced to take on jobs and Grete's caretaking deteriorates. One day, when Gregor emerges from his room, his father chases him around the dining room table and pelts him with apples. One of the apples becomes embedded in his back, causing an infection. Due to his infection and his hunger, Gregor is soon barely able to move at all. Later, his parents take in lodgers and use Gregor's room as a dumping area for unwanted objects. Gregor becomes dirty, covered in dust and old bits of rotten food. One day, Gregor hears Grete playing her violin to entertain the lodgers. Gregor is attracted to the music, and slowly walks into the dining room despite himself, entertaining a fantasy of getting his beloved sister to join him in his room and play her violin for him. The lodgers see him and give notice, refusing to pay the rent they owe, even threatening to sue the family for harboring him while they stayed there. Grete determines that the monstrous insect is no longer Gregor, since Gregor would have left them out of love and taken their burden away, and claims that they must get rid of it. Gregor retreats to his room and collapses, finally succumbing to his wound.

The point of view shifts as, upon discovery of his corpse, the family feels an enormous burden has been lifted from them, and start planning for the future again. The family discovers that they aren't doing financially bad at all, especially since, following Gregor's demise, they can take a smaller flat. The brief process of forgetting Gregor and shutting him from their lives is quickly completed.

7 comments:

Rajlakshmi said...

thats a very diffrent kind of story... poor gregor... will try to grab the book...

lebblogs said...

good review ... if someday I have the time ... this will be in my list of reads ...

Aparna said...

I had read the book when I was a teenager,and at that time, it was completely beyond my comprehension. Now that I read your synopsis, I realized I failed to understand the primary theme of the novel. When I looked back, I realized how Gregor's metamorphosis actually helped the entire family to transform themselves from a dependent lot to a self-sufficient bunch of people. There in lies the actual metamorphosis.

Neha said...

sounds very good ZB..will try to read this one..

I have been reading your posts on reader; but work keeping me a bit busy so not able to comment..rather, I miss commenting here :-|

ZB said...

@Rajlakshmi, LEB, Neha-Thanks a Ton for reading. :)

@Aparna: You are absolutely right. I missed that point. Thats one of the main themes, the family realizes that they need a smaller house and move out. And also they discover that their daughter has grown to a pretty young woman and is of marriageable age and realize that its time to find a suitable husband for her. Very rightly said. Thanks....:)

Raj said...

:)
deeply profound
alcoholically true

and amusing

Choco said...

I really like what Aparna has said. Will add this book to my wishlist. Thanks ZB.