Nabokov's Interpretation of the Metamorphosis

Essay by aleks64College, UndergraduateA, March 2004

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Mediocrity Surrounding Genius: Nabokov's View on "The Metamorphosis"

"The Metamorphosis," a story by Franz Kafka is about an ordinary traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, who suddenly transforms into a "monstrous vermin." What exactly this vermin is, and why Gregor is suddenly transformed into it is left unclear throughout the story. After Gregor's transformation, the story continues by illustrating the development of the relationship between Gregor and his family until the "vermin" finally dies. Insight and analysis of story provided by the Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov suggests that it is Gregor who is a human in a beetle's disguise, while those around him are the vermin. .

Gregor Samsa lives what is described as a pathetic and depressing life. He took a job with one of his father's creditors and became a traveling salesman. Gregor has to deal with,

"...the torture of traveling, worrying about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last of get more intimate.

To the devil with it all!"(Kafka)

Gregor is slavishly devoted to his job and supporting his family. Constantly working to pay off his their debt, Gregor never left anytime for himself. The family has become so dependent on him to support them, yet they do nothing for him in return. The parents are, according to Nabokov, "...philistines, people interested only in the material side of life and vulgarians in their tastes." Gregor was no longer thought of as a member of the family, but instead, as stated by Nabokov, he was nothing more than a "support system." (Nabokov 5). Gregor lacks a social life and wastes his existence working at a job that he hates. The fact that he does this all for a family that does not care about him or his well-being makes his condition...