Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis is a very weird little book which is just one long extended metaphor. And I’m going to go ahead and interpret the hell out of it now because we all know I am very very knowledgeable about Literature.


The Metamorphosis is a very weird little book which is just one long extended metaphor. And I’m going to go ahead and interpret the hell out of it now because we all know I am very very knowledgeable about Literature.

About the Book

Title: The Metamorphosis

Author: Franz Kafka

Published: 1915

Series: (standalone)

Genre: classics, philosophy, fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

The Premise

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“With it’s startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first opening, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetle-like insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The Metamorphosis has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction. As W.H. Auden wrote, “Kafka is important to us because his predicament is the predicament of modern man.”

Yeah, it’s one of *those* classics blurbs.

My Thoughts

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

That’s right. The dude randomly turns into a giant gross bug, and the rest of the story is about the fallout.

He wakes up as a bug, so clearly, he can’t go to work. His family opens the door and finds him in his new state and freaks out. He gradually loses his speech, and his sight… he ends up locked in his room crawling around on the walls and scaring everyone.

And piggybacking off some other reviews I have seen, I think this book is about anxiety and social isolation.

Gregor’s transformation into a hideous insect is representative of his self-hatred and his embarrassment of existing. His subsequent inability to provide for his family, and the impossibility of communication represents the feelings of inadequacy and social inhibition. The rejection and misunderstanding he faces with other people in his new state represents feelings of incongruity with the world and inability to connect with others regardless of how much he tries. The way he then slowly rots away in his room and gets worse and worse is about how tempting yet damaging it is to withdraw from everyone and exist without contact with the outside world.

And the ending represents what happens when you lose your place in the world and the ability to express yourself to others. When you are dead to society.

So that’s my interpretation of this book. Perhaps it’s very wrong. But it’s mine!

The Verdict

I liked this book surprisingly more than I was expecting, and I would recommend it if you want to read a short albeit quite weird classic novel!

Have you read The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka? If so, what did you think of it? Feel free to leave a comment!

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8 comments on “Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka”

  1. I read this ages ago so I don’t quite remember the plot but think you can also read it through a biographical lens. I recall that there are many parallels between Gregor and Kafka himself (e.g. relationship to parents). But of course there are million other possible interpretations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one I read for a class years and years ago. I enjoyed it but found the class and the teacher’s analysis of it ridiculous. I find existentialism to be rather silly so I think the book should be enjoyed on its own terms without the cheap philosophy many want to ascribe to it. I think your take on it is far better.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reading Kafka is always great. Right when you’re most disturbed, you burst out laughing, and then you’re disturbed by your own laughter. The meaning seems to ripple out. First, the individual psyche — the “self-hatred and his embarrassment of existing” you mention, surely a reflection of Kafka’s own personality. Then broader, to Auden’s point, about this psychological dysfunction being the signature dysfunction of the modern era. Then even broader to anxiety and abjection as Kierkegaard sees it, as the essential marker of human identity and perhaps of existence itself. We could read the three layers as Freudian (psychoanalytic), Marxist (historical conditions), and existentialist (condition of existence). But running through all the layers is that unique style and vision Kafka brings to the page. (Hope I’m not talking too much, Emily. Stumbled upon your blog and loving it 🙂 Gary)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree that Kafka was probably writing from his own experience in this one– I’m pretty sure that it’s believed he had social anxiety. I do as well, so I related to the whole ethos of this book for that main reason

      Liked by 1 person

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