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The Metamorphosis

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  • United States
  • English

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The Metamorphosis (German: Die Verwandlung) is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It has been cited as one of the seminal works of fiction of the 20th century and is studied in colleges and universities across the Western world. The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, waking to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin. It is never explained in the story why Samsa transforms, nor did Kafka ever give an explanation.
Part I
One day Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, wakes up to find himself transformed into a "ungeheures Ungeziefer", literally "monstrous vermin", often interpreted as a giant bug or insect. He believes it is a dream, and spends the day reflecting on how dreary life as a traveling salesman is. His boss comes to his apartment to see why he hasn't come to work and knocks on his bedroom door. Nobody on the other side of the door could understand a single word he uttered (Gregor was unaware of the fact that his voice has also transformed) and conclude that he is seriously ill. Finally, Gregor manages to unlock and open the door with his mouth. He apologizes to his boss for the delay. Horrified by the sight of Gregor's appearance, the boss bolts out of the apartment, while Gregor's mother faints. Gregor tries to catch up with him but his father drives him back into the bedroom with a cane and a rolled newspaper. Gregor injures himself squeezing back through the doorway, and his father slams the door shut. Gregor, exhausted, falls asleep.
Part II
Gregor wakes and sees that someone has put milk and bread in his room. Initially excited, he quickly discovers that he has no taste for milk, once one of his favorite foods. He settles himself under a couch. The next morning, his sister comes in, sees that he has not touched the milk, and replaces it with rotting food scraps, which Gregor happily eats. This begins a routine in which his sister feeds him and cleans up while he hides under the couch, afraid that his appearance will frighten her. Gregor spends his time li
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