Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Creepy Classic Review: Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

Originally called Die Verwandlung, Franz Kafka’s bizarre novella, The Metamorphosis, was published in 1915. The truly creepy tale is so artfully imaginative; it’s hard to believe it was written back then.

So what is metamorphosis? Well, by definition it’s 1: a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly. OR…2: complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic or witchcraft.

But that’s neither here nor there. The point is it means change, a drastic one at that. Change is what happened to the traveling sales man, Gregor Samsa, when he woke up one morning and found himself transformed into a beastly insect. Poor Gregor was living life to the fullest as far as his employer/family’s expectations we concerned. He was a good son, ardently working to financially provide for his parents and sister, Grete. As a salesman, he religiously adhered to his company’s demands, meeting his sales numbers and so forth. Everything in his life was progressing until the whole “insect” thing.  And for the first time ever - since waking up in his condition - he missed work.

To read  the inward ramblings of our main character was hilarious. The way Kafka describes the corporate demands of Gregor’s employer is so true to form, even for the early 1900’s.  Apparently corporate greed is timeless.

As Gregor comes to terms with his irreversible condition, he learns how to maneuver with his little legs. Despite his transformation, I found Gregor terribly likeable. As weird as the tale was, I couldn’t help but be drawn into its story - wondering what would happen next to our unlikely hero, Gregor. As he continues to live in his insect form, his family slowly adjusts to Gregor’s condition. His dad goes back to work as does his mother. His sister begins to be the primary caretaker of Gregor since his parents struggle with the emotional strain of his transformation.

It’s funny how in the beginning Gregor’s family was painfully aware that the “thing” in Gregor’s room is in fact their son/brother. Yet as time progresses, the situation weighs on them and they become less and less tolerant of Gregor’s scurrying behavior. He’s a bug now for Christ’s sake. What the hell did they expect? Eventually, they all grow tiresome of Gregor, who ultimately becomes dejected, unable to eat. Not too long after he dies and guess what…his family happily moves on.

For as hilarious as this tale began, it certainly finished with a morose ending. I loved it, though. There’s a reason why it is a classic; one I realized will stick with me for quite some time. It’s a good thing I liked the darn thing. On my kilometer, I gave it a 4.5.

Until next time…looking for something different – try a Creepy Classic.

Mina B.

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