Admittedly I hadn’t heard of this book until I walked into a taster lecture at UEA and found out we were analysing the opening, however the concept of someone waking up in the morning to find out they’ve turned into a cockroach, immediately intrigued me.
‘Metamorphosis’ is originally German however it’s been translated many times into English. Translation is something I’d never really given much thought to before but it’s actually really interesting how by merely using different synonyms you can create a completely different meaning.
So to put it short, this story is about a guy named Gregor who wakes up as a cockroach and scares the hell out of his family. To be honest, I feel pretty sorry for him – he’s still himself, just in a different body – however his family, although they try to help, won’t treat him the same way. Thinking about it, this kind of correlates to society’s perceptions of others. We mostly live in a world where we are judged primarily on appearance – they say when you walk into an interview they have decided before you have even spoken – and how often you are treated differently depending on how you come across. It’s weird to think that by simply changing your appearance you are seen as a different person to others although inside you are inherently yourself. This is exactly what Gregor experiences in the novel – he is perceived as an animal and thus, a threat, however he is inevitably the same.
This mind vs body theme also made me think about the book as an analogy of the mind. Perhaps Gregor is not physically a cockroach or a beast of sorts but is perceived that way due to his mental state. He woke up one day, internally ill as such, and yet he is perceived as a beast for what his mind has caused him to do. There is undoubtedly a sense of hopelessness in the novel – he remains passive for the entirety of it – and I guess that’s to emphasise that we can’t control the thoughts of others. No matter how much we feel isolated or imprisoned or trapped within the judgements and actions of others we can do nothing but accept them.
I also read up this theory about the meaning behind the apple scene, wherein Gregor’s father throws apples at his back. It said that this could relate to the Fall when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. Eating the apple somewhat created evil in what was made a perfect world and so by the apples hitting Gregor’s back, it is the beginning of suffering for someone who had perhaps felt it undeserved. I just found this really interesting because whilst reading it, I hadn’t thought of it like this.
As a whole, ‘Metamorphosis’ is short and at parts felt slightly slow and unclimatic, however altogether I love the concepts behind it and I think that’s enough to get you thinking more about how it relates to society and the world we live in. Therefore, I definitely think it’s worth a read 🙂