TOKYO - Franz Kafka's seminal work The Metamorphosis is famous for its themes of alienation, absurdity and now androids, as a robot takes centre stage in a new theatrical adaptation. Acclaimed Japanese director Oriza Hirata worked with leading roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro to create the star of the show, a tall gangly robot with a metal skeleton and white human-like face and hands. In Kafka's novella, travelling salesman Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning inexplicably transformed into a repulsive insect, causing his family to hide him away in shame and disgust. Hirata's production swaps the big bug for a cold silver frame and an automated voice, testing the dramatic timing of four French actors chosen to play his family.
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One of Kafka's best-known works, The Metamorphosis tells the story of salesman Gregor Samsa who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect German ungeheures Ungeziefer , literally "monstrous vermin" , subsequently struggling to adjust to this new condition. The novella has been widely discussed among literary critics, with differing interpretations being offered. Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a "monstrous vermin".
He initially considers the transformation to be temporary and slowly ponders the consequences of this metamorphosis. Unable to get up and leave the bed, Gregor reflects on his job as a traveling salesman and cloth merchant, which he characterizes as being full of "temporary and constantly changing human relationships, which never come from the heart".
He sees his employer as a despot and would quickly quit his job were he not his family's sole breadwinner and working off his bankrupt father's debts. While trying to move, Gregor finds that his office manager, the chief clerk, has shown up to check on him, indignant about Gregor's unexcused absence.
Gregor attempts to communicate with both the manager and his family, but all they can hear from behind the door is incomprehensible vocalizations. Gregor laboriously drags himself across the floor and opens the door. The manager, upon seeing the transformed Gregor, flees the apartment. Gregor's family is horrified, and his father drives him back into his room under the threat of violence.
With Gregor's unexpected incapacitation, the family is deprived of their financial stability. Although Gregor's sister Grete now shies away from the sight of him, she takes to supplying him with food, which they find he can only eat rotten. Gregor begins to accept his new identity and begins crawling on the floor, walls and ceiling. Discovering Gregor's new pastime, Grete decides to remove some of the furniture to give Gregor more space.
She and her mother begin taking furniture away, but Gregor finds their actions deeply distressing. He desperately tries to save a particularly-loved portrait on the wall of a woman clad in fur. His mother loses consciousness at the sight of Gregor clinging to the image to protect it. As Grete rushes to assist her mother, Gregor follows her and is hurt by a medicine bottle falling on his face. His father returns home from work and angrily hurls apples at Gregor.
One of them is lodged into a sensitive spot in his back and severely wounds him. Gregor suffers from his injuries for several weeks and takes very little food. He is increasingly neglected by his family and his room becomes used for storage. To secure their livelihood, the family takes three tenants into their apartment. The cleaning lady alleviates Gregor's isolation by leaving his door open for him on the evenings that the tenants eat out.
One day, his door is left open despite the presence of the tenants. Gregor, attracted by Grete's violin-playing in the living room, crawls out of his room and is spotted by the unsuspecting tenants, who complain about the apartment's unhygienic conditions and cancel their tenancy.
Grete, who has by now become tired of taking care of Gregor and is realizing the burden his existence puts on each one in the family, tells her parents they must get rid of "it", or they will all be ruined. Gregor, understanding that he is no longer wanted, dies of starvation before the next sunrise. The relieved and optimistic family take a tram ride out to the countryside, and decide to move to a smaller apartment to further save money.
During this short trip, Mr. Samsa realize that, in spite of going through hardships which have brought an amount of paleness to her face, Grete appears to have grown up into a pretty and well-figured lady, which leads her parents to think about finding her a husband. Gregor is the main character of the story. He works as a traveling salesman in order to provide money for his sister and parents. He wakes up one morning finding himself transformed into an insect.
After the metamorphosis, Gregor becomes unable to work and is confined to his room for most of the remainder of the story. This prompts his family to begin working once again. Gregor is depicted as isolated from society and often misunderstands the true intentions of others and is often misunderstood, in turn. The name "Gregor Samsa" appears to derive partly from literary works Kafka had read. Sacher-Masoch wrote Venus in Furs , a novel whose hero assumes the name Gregor at one point. A "Venus in furs" literally recurs in The Metamorphosis in the picture that Gregor Samsa has hung on his bedroom wall.
Grete is Gregor's younger sister, who becomes his caretaker after his metamorphosis. Initially Grete and Gregor have a close relationship, but this quickly fades.
While Grete initially volunteers to feed him and clean his room, she grows increasingly impatient with the burden and begins to leave his room in disarray out of spite. Her initial decision to take care of Gregor may have come from a desire to contribute and be useful to the family, since she becomes angry and upset when the mother cleans his room, and it is made clear that Grete is disgusted by Gregor; she could not enter Gregor's room without opening the window first because of the nausea he caused her, and leaves without doing anything if Gregor is in plain sight.
She plays the violin and dreams of going to the conservatory, a dream Gregor had intended to make happen; Gregor had planned on making the announcement on Christmas Day. To help provide an income for the family after Gregor's transformation, she starts working as a salesgirl. Grete is also the first to suggest getting rid of Gregor, which causes Gregor to plan his own death.
At the end of the story, Grete's parents realize that she has become beautiful and full-figured and decide to consider finding her a husband. Samsa is Gregor's father. After the metamorphosis, he is forced to return to work in order to support the family financially. His attitude towards his son is harsh; he regards the transformed Gregor with disgust and possibly even fear, and he attacks him on several occasions.
Samsa is Grete and Gregor's mother. She is initially shocked at Gregor's transformation; however, she wants to enter his room. This proves too much for her, thus giving rise to a conflict between her maternal impulse and sympathy, and her fear and revulsion at Gregor's new form. The Charwoman is an old lady who is employed by the Samsa family to help take care of their household duties.
Apart from Grete and her father, she is the only person who is in close contact with Gregor. She is the one who notices that Gregor has died and disposes of his body. Like most Kafka works, The Metamorphosis tends to entail the use of a religious Max Brod or psychological interpretation by most of its interpreters.
Besides the psychological approach, interpretations focusing on sociological aspects which see the Samsa family as a portrayal of general social circumstances, have gained a large following as well. Vladimir Nabokov rejected such interpretations, noting that they do not live up to Kafka's art. He instead chose an interpretation guided by the artistic detail but categorically excluded any and all attempts at deciphering a symbolic or allegoric level of meaning. Arguing against the popular father complex theory, he observed that it is the sister, more so than the father, who should be considered the cruelest person in the story, as she is the one backstabbing Gregor.
In Nabokov's view, the central narrative theme is the artist's struggle for existence in a society replete with philistines that destroys him step by step. Commenting on Kafka's style, he writes: "The transparency of his style underlines the dark richness of his fantasy world. Contrast and uniformity, style and the depicted, portrayal and fable are seamlessly intertwined".
In , Nina Pelikan Straus wrote a feminist interpretation of The Metamorphosis , bringing to the forefront the transformation of the main character Gregor's sister, Grete, and foregrounding the family and, particularly, younger sister's transformation in the story. Traditionally, critics of The Metamorphosis have underplayed the fact that the story is not only about Gregor but also his family and especially about Grete's metamorphosis as it is mainly Grete, as woman, daughter and sister, on whom the social and psychoanalytic resonances of the text depend.
In , Gerhard Rieck pointed out that Gregor and his sister Grete form a pair, which is typical for many of Kafka's texts: It is made up of one passive, rather austere person and another active, more libidinal person. The appearance of figures with such almost irreconcilable personalities who form couples in Kafka's works has been evident since he wrote his short story " Description of a Struggle " e.
They also appear in " The Judgement " Georg and his friend in Russia , in all three of his novels e. Robinson and Delamarche in Amerika as well as in his short stories " A Country Doctor " the country doctor and the groom and " A Hunger Artist " the hunger artist and the panther.
Rieck views these pairs as parts of one single person hence the similarity between the names Gregor and Grete , and in the final analysis as the two determining components of the author's personality.
Not only in Kafka's life but also in his oeuvre does Rieck see the description of a fight between these two parts.
Reiner Stach argued in that no elucidating comments were needed to illustrate the story and that it was convincing by itself, self-contained, even absolute. He believes that there is no doubt the story would have been admitted to the canon of world literature even if we had known nothing about its author.
Reduced to carrying out his professional responsibilities, anxious to guarantee his advancement and vexed with the fear of making commercial mistakes, he is the creature of a functionalistic professional life. In , Ralf Sudau took the view that particular attention should be paid to the motifs of self-abnegation and disregard for reality.
Gregor's earlier behavior was characterized by self-renunciation and his pride in being able to provide a secure and leisured existence for his family. When he finds himself in a situation where he himself is in need of attention and assistance and in danger of becoming a parasite, he doesn't want to admit this new role to himself and be disappointed by the treatment he receives from his family, which is becoming more and more careless and even hostile over time.
His gradual emaciation and "self-reduction" shows signs of a fatal hunger strike which on the part of Gregor is unconscious and unsuccessful, on the part of his family not understood or ignored. Sudau also lists the names of selected interpreters of The Metamorphosis e. Beicken, Sokel, Sautermeister and Schwarz. He further notes that Kafka's representational style is on one hand characterized by an idiosyncratic interpenetration of realism and fantasy, a worldly mind, rationality and clarity of observation, and on the other hand by folly, outlandishness and fallacy.
He also points to the grotesque and tragicomical, silent film-like elements. Fernando Bermejo-Rubio argued that the story is often viewed unjustly as inconclusive.
He derives his interpretative approach from the fact that the descriptions of Gregor and his family environment in The Metamorphosis contradict each other. Diametrically opposed versions exist of Gregor's back, his voice, of whether he is ill or already undergoing the metamorphosis, whether he is dreaming or not, which treatment he deserves, of his moral point of view false accusations made by Grete and whether his family is blameless or not. Bermejo-Rubio emphasizes that Kafka ordered in that there should be no illustration of Gregor.
He argues that it is exactly this absence of a visual narrator that is essential for Kafka's project, for he who depicts Gregor would stylize himself as an omniscient narrator.
Another reason why Kafka opposed such an illustration is that the reader should not be biased in any way before his reading process was getting under way. That the descriptions are not compatible with each other is indicative of the fact that the opening statement is not to be trusted. If the reader isn't hoodwinked by the first sentence and still thinks of Gregor as a human being, he will view the story as conclusive and realize that Gregor is a victim of his own degeneration.
She is the character the title is directed at. Gregor's metamorphosis is followed by him languishing and ultimately dying. Grete, by contrast, has matured as a result of the new family circumstances and assumed responsibility. In the end — after the brother's death — the parents also notice that their daughter, "who was getting more animated all the time, had blossomed […] into a beautiful and voluptuous young woman", and want to look for a partner for her.
From this standpoint, Grete's transition, her metamorphosis from a girl into a woman, is the subtextual theme of the story. Kafka's sentences often deliver an unexpected effect just before the period — that being the finalizing meaning and focus.
Gregor Samsa is a devoted son working as a traveling salesman, a stressful job he abhors, in order to support his parents and seventeen year old sister, but looks forward to the time when all their debts will be paid so he can finally make a change His many legs, which were pathetically thin. His many legs, which were pathetically thin compared to the rest of his bulk, flickered helplessly before his eyes. In this weird little story, a whole family undergoes changes that bring about a variety of emotions for the reader.
One of Kafka's best-known works, The Metamorphosis tells the story of salesman Gregor Samsa who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect German ungeheures Ungeziefer , literally "monstrous vermin" , subsequently struggling to adjust to this new condition. The novella has been widely discussed among literary critics, with differing interpretations being offered. Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a "monstrous vermin". He initially considers the transformation to be temporary and slowly ponders the consequences of this metamorphosis.