'The Metamorphosis' Quotes by Franz Kafka

UK-Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis choreographed and directed by Arthur Pita at the LInbury Studio Theatre Royal Opera House
UK-Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis choreographed and directed by Arthur Pita at the LInbury Studio Theatre Royal Opera House. Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

"The Metamorphosis" is a famous novella by Franz Kafka. The work centers around a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one morning to realize he's turned into a bug. The absurdist story was considered to be part of the Dada art movement.

Chapter 1: The Change

In chapter 1, Samsa wakes up to the horror that he has changed into a "montrous vermin."

"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin. He was lying on his back as hard as armor plate, and when he lifted his head a little, he saw his vaulted brown belly, sectioned by arch-shaped ribs, to whose dome the cover, about to slide off completely, could barely cling. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, were waving helplessly before his eyes."
"Why was only Gregor condemned to work for a firm where at the slightest omission they immediately suspected the worst? Were all employees louts without exception? Wasn't there a single loyal, dedicated worker among them who, when he had not fully utilized a few hours of the morning for the firm, was driven half-mad by pangs of conscience and was actually unable to get out of bed?"
"And now he could see him, standing closest to the door, his hand pressed over his open mouth, slowly backing away as if repulsed by an invisible, unrelenting force. His mother—in spite of the manager's presence she stood with her hair still unbraided from the night, sticking out in all directions—first looked at his father with her hands clasped, then took two steps towards Gregor, and sank down in the midst of her skirt spreading out around her, her face completely hidden on her breast. With a hostile expression, his father clenched his fist, as if to drive Gregor back into his room, then looked uncertainly around the living room, shielded his eyes with his hands, and sobbed with heaves of his powerful chest."

Chapter 2: The Room

After the change, Samsa's family locks him in his room. His only company, and his caretaker, is his sister Grete, as described in the following passages.

"Those had been wonderful times, and they had never returned, at least not with the same glory, although later on Gregor earned enough money to meet the expenses of the entire family and actually did so. They had just gotten used to it, the family as well as Gregor, the money was received with thanks and given with pleasure."
"Hardly she entered the room than she would run straight to the window without taking time to close the door—though she was usually so careful to spare everyone the sight of Gregor's room—then tear open the casements with eager hands, almost as if she were suffocating, and remain for a little while at the window even in the coldest weather, breathing deeply. With this racing and crashing, she frightened Gregor twice a day; the whole time he cowered under the couch, and yet he knew very well that she would certainly have spared him this if only she had found it possible to stand being in a room with him with the window closed."
"Into a room in which Gregor ruled the bare walls all alone, no human being beside Grete was ever likely to set foot."

Chapter 3: Deterioration and Death

As Gregor Samsa's condition deteriorates, his family increasingly neglects him, and talks about getting "rid of it." Eventually, Gregor Samsa dies of starvation. The following quotes illuminate the final stages of this process.

"Gregor's serious wound, from which he suffered for over a month—the apple remained imbedded in his flesh as a visible souvenir since no one dared to remove it—seemed to have reminded even his father that Gregor was a member of the family, in spite of his present pathetic and repulsive shape, who could not be treated as an enemy; that on the contrary, it was the commandment of family duty to swallow their disgust and endure him, endure him and nothing more."
"What the world demands of poor people they did to the utmost of their ability; his father brought breakfast for the minor officials at the bank, his mother sacrificed herself to the underwear of strangers, his sister ran back and forth behind the counter at the request of the customers; but for anything more than this they did not have the strength."
"I won't pronounce the name of my brother in front of this monster, and so all I say is: we have to try and get rid of it. We've done everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with it; I don't think anyone can blame us in the least."
"Growing quieter and communicating almost unconsciously through glances, they thought that it would soon be time, too, to find her a good husband. And it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when at the end of the ride their daughter got up first and stretched her young body."
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Lombardi, Esther. "'The Metamorphosis' Quotes by Franz Kafka." ThoughtCo, Jun. 20, 2021, thoughtco.com/quotes-from-metamorphosis-740737. Lombardi, Esther. (2021, June 20). 'The Metamorphosis' Quotes by Franz Kafka. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-metamorphosis-740737 Lombardi, Esther. "'The Metamorphosis' Quotes by Franz Kafka." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-metamorphosis-740737 (accessed December 2, 2022).