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The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

Society and Class Theme

Kafka's stories are known for their exploration of the nightmare of bureaucracy and the dehumanizing effects of modern life – all of those things we think of when we use the term "kafka-esque." Ever had to deal with the DMV or the IRS? For many people, such institutions exemplify the kafka-esque. These themes are given the light touch in The Metamorphosis, which centers on the conflict between Gregor and his family. But you can still see the kafka-esque working its dismal magic on Gregor's attitude toward his profession and the behavior of characters who are not members of the family.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. What is Gregor's (former) job as a traveling salesman like? Do you think he found the job personally fulfilling? Why or why not?
  2. With Gregor no longer the breadwinner, how does the Samsas' status change? Do they adjust well to the change? Why or why not?
  3. Take a closer look at the cleaning woman and the boarders. How do these relatively minor characters enhance our understanding of the Samsas and their situation?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Gregor's transformation into a vermin is a metaphor for the dehumanizing effects of his life as a traveling salesman.

The changes in the Samsa family fortunes illustrate how class can be as radically transformative as Gregor's own insect metamorphosis.

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