by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis Life, Consciousness, and Existence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stanley Corngold's translation.
Gregor immediately fell down with a little cry onto his numerous little legs. This had hardly happened when for the first time that morning he had a feeling of physical well-being […] and he already believed that final recovery from all his suffering was imminent. (1.29)
That fellow Descartes we mentioned in Quote #1 also formulated a philosophical problem we know as the mind-body split: can the mind exist independently of the body? What's interesting here is that Gregor's physical experiences affect his mental life to the point that they can create a belief (the belief that "final recovery from all his suffering" is possible).
When he heard his mother's words, Gregor realized that the monotony of family life, combined with the fact that not a soul had addressed a word to him, must have addled his brain in the course of the past two months, for he could not explain to himself in any other way how in all seriousness he could have been anxious to have his room cleared out […] Even now he had been on the verge of forgetting, and only his mother's voice, which he had not heard for so long, had shaken him up […] he could not do without the beneficial influence of the furniture on his state of mind. (2.21)
This passage reflects some of the contrary impulses that push and pull within Gregor. On the one hand, family life is blamed for "addl[ing]" his brain, confusing him to the point that he's willing to give in to his insect impulses. Gregor doesn't admit the possibility that he's becoming habituated to the life of an insect on his own, just by the fact of living in an insect body. On the other hand, his mother's voice calls him back into a revived sense of his humanity. But then the passage ends with an odd comment about the "beneficial influence of the furniture" – as if Gregor had suddenly become an expert on feng shui.
[T]ormented by self-reproaches and worry, he began to crawl […] and finally in desperation, as the whole room was beginning to spin, fell down onto the middle of the big table. (2.26)
In this passage, Gregor seems on the point of losing his mind – and losing control over his body. Throughout the story, there are numerous instances where Gregor falls to the floor when he loses his mind (see our discussion of Quote #8 under "Man and the Natural World"). These instances look ahead to Gregor's last moments, where he literally drops dead (see Quote #9).