by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis Transformation Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stanley Corngold's translation.
When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. (1.1)
For an opening, the first sentence of the novella is pretty hard to beat for sheer absurdity. The idea of waking up as an insect is so extraordinary that you might find yourself re-reading the sentence, trying to figure out if there's anything in those "unsettling dreams" that precipitated the change. That's part of the game the story plays with you – can people just change overnight? Does there have to be a cause?
That the change in his voice was nothing more than the first sign of a bad cold, an occupational ailment of the traveling salesman, he had no doubt in the least. (1.8)
A bad cold? A bad cold? At this point Gregor's trivialization of his, um, symptom is outrageous. But it is also a little understandable, at least in the sense that many of us also try to grapple with a new or alien experience by either reducing it to something familiar (like a bad cold) or trying to deny that it exists altogether.
Pitilessly his father came on, hissing like a wild man […] If only his father did not keep making this intolerable hissing sound! It made Gregor lose his head completely (1.30)
It seems that every character who comes into contact with Gregor is also transformed, most notably in their behavior toward Gregor. (When you're having lunch with your friends, try throwing a huge cockroach in the middle of the table and see what happens. Suddenly, dignity will be a very scarce commodity.) Ironically, even as the characters are repulsed by Gregor's insect form, their own behavior renders them equally grotesque. Gregor's transformation in this passage brings out his father's domineering side in a particularly savage way.