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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Man and the Natural World

If human beings are traditionally distinguished from animals by their capacity for thought, language, and social feeling, how do we categorize Gregor, who seems to exhibit all of these human capaci...

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

Much of The Metamorphosis is spent in Gregor's head as he struggles to come to terms with his new form. At times he seems to be able to think abstractly about his condition (as an insect) in ways t...

Morality and Ethics

Forgive the short dip into Philosophy 101 here, but we promise – it'll pay off in the end. A major German Enlightenment philosopher by the name of Immanuel Kant came up with the ethical princ...

Transformation

By starting out with Gregor's metamorphosis into a bug, The Metamorphosis plays around with some interesting questions as to the significance of transformation. We're never told exactly how or why...

Identity

Gregor's transformation into a giant bug touches on larger issues of identity for himself and his family. One way of approaching the identity issue is to consider whether Gregor is still Gregor if...

Isolation

Early in The Metamorphosis, we learn that Gregor dearly wishes to quit his job and be free of his family obligations. Being turned into a bug handily takes care of this problem for Gregor – y...

Family

Kafka's Metamorphosis toys with the traditional family structure where the father is at the head. Instead, the story begins with Gregor, the son, as the sole provider and the father as a weak, phys...

Society and Class

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...
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