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The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

On the wall directly opposite hung a photograph of Gregor from his army days in a lieutenant's uniform, his hand on his sword, a carefree smile on his lips, demanding respect for his bearing and rank. (1.26)

Here we have Gregor in happier, human days. The photograph makes it seem as though the uniform itself invests Gregor with power, giving him that devil-may-care attitude. So it's no surprise that Gregor is almost deflated when he takes on the more abject form of a miserable bug (see Quote #10 in "Transformation").

Quote #2

Perhaps, however, the romantic enthusiasm of girls her age, which seeks to indulge itself at every opportunity, played a part, by tempting her to make Gregor's situation even more terrifying in order that she might do even more for him. (2.22)

Like the other members of the family, Grete is unwilling to ascribe to Gregor the ability to understand what she says and the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways. The novella here suggests that Grete's unwillingness stems from her "romantic enthusiasm," her desire to star in her very own fairy-tale, with Gregor as the horrible monster.

Quote #3

[His mother] caught sight of the gigantic brown blotch on the flowered wallpaper, and before it really dawned on her that what she saw was Gregor, cried in a hoarse, bawling voice: "Oh, God, Oh, God!" (2.26)

Gregor's "brown blotch" of a body is in stark contrast to the military portrait we discussed in Quote #1. Gregor's mother's response shows that to her, Gregor is a big brown stain first, her son second. She can't say anything to Gregor; all she can do is exclaim.

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