“One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.”The first line of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis basically tells us the whole premise of the book. I’ve always been hesitant to read The Metamorphosis, because it’s not my cup of tea. However, I changed my mind when I read online that The Metamorphosis actually uses magic realism, my thesis topic.
This might sound like a reviewer cliché, but I honestly don’t know what to say about The Metamorphosis. It was well-written in simple language, and I understand why people say Kafka’s a literary genius. However, I felt that the book’s message is still eluding me, and I have to let it simmer for a while. Somehow, I know there’s something more to Gregor Samsa’s transformation, but that something keeps slipping through my fingers.
Was his transformation into an insect or vermin or bug (depending on the translation) meant to symbolize Gregor’s daily grind in his joyless existence as a salesman? That was the first thing that popped into my head, but it doesn’t seem enough.
The family dynamics in the book also interested me. See, Gregor is his family’s breadwinner. When his family realized that Gregor had turned into a cockroach/bug, I was surprised when they were more concerned about themselves, with how they were going to survive without Gregor’s income. Hello, your son just turned into a cockroach. That doesn’t happen everyday. But, then again, what else should I expect from magic realism?
Overall, I’m still on the fence about this book. It’s obviously a work of great literary value, and it gave me a lot to think about. In the end, though, I want a book to stir powerful emotions in me. Of Mice and Men, for example, made my heart hurt while unearthing deep questions about life at the same time. The Metamorphosis just didn’t do that for me.