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It can be seen that Gregor may have known about his metamorphosis subconsciously as he was having ‘unsettling dreams’ which show that his mind was never at rest. The use of the phrase ‘monstrous vermin’ gives readers an open floor to choose what sort of ‘vermin’ Gregor could be. The phrase is said to be ‘lost in translation’ as there are many similar translations. The sentence is so obscure that for a while it is hard to grasp hold of the concept of the text.
After attaining his readers attention Kafka goes onto describing Gregor’s new physical state. It is thus established that Gregor is the main character of the story. Gregor’s new body ‘which was as hard as armour’ can be seen as a protecting net for him; possibly preparing him for his troublesome future.
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Kafka then moves onto the setting of Gregor’s whereabouts after he ensures that we have a vague idea of Gregor’s state. In his aware state Gregor seems to not understand his transformation, ‘What’s happened to me’, this contrasts with his subconscious state where we are made aware that he has some idea of his transformation. However, there is no point in which we see Gregor really question his metamorphosis in terms of panic or fear. He seems to go along with the change as if it is common for a human to turn into a bug. Kafka however, does show that only Gregor has been transformed by clearly stating that Gregor’s room was ‘a real room meant for human habitation’. It is therefore made clear that Gregor’s room is the focal setting of the story. Most parts of the story take place either in Gregor’s room or around his room. The whole story is basically set in the apartment the family lives in. ‘His room though a little too small, lay peacefully within its four familiar walls.’ We are later told that Gregor’s room is in the centre of the apartment and all rooms surround it. From this we can see the introduction of the main theme of entrapment that Kafka later integrates into the rest of the story as well. Gregor is locked in his room after his family sees him in his new form. Whenever he does try to leave the room he is pushed back in by the rest of the family because they can’t bear to see him. This leads us into the theme of alienation that is also presented in the beginning of the text with Gregor being seen in a sense as in a cage because his family is surrounding his room trying to get him to talk to them as if he is some sort of animal at the zoo.
The weather is also significant as it is mentioned throughout the text. In the opening of the story Kafka presents the weather as ‘dismal’ which also represents Gregors state of mind. It also shows the negativity that surrounds the lives of the Samsa family. Constant references are made to the weather where the weather is getting worse; this contrasts with the end where after Gregors death the family goes out in a car ‘brightly lit by the warm sun’. The change in weather shows the end of the negative period in the Samsa household that was brought on by Gregors transformation.
Kafkas style is also established from the beginning of the text. We see a lot of exaggeration in the first few paragraphs with ‘monstrous vermin’, ‘numerous legs’,. Kafka’s ability to make things seem worse than they are compliments Gregor’s life in the sense that Gregor’s life could have been seen very diffently yet Kafka shows us the perspective of alienation to the extreme.
Kafka also enforces humour throughout his novella. The first sentence is in a sense humourous because of how extreme it is. Also, the image of Gregor lying on his back, with his legs squirming in the air, creates a humorous vision. Similarly the scene in which Mr Samsa ‘pelts’ apples at Gregor can be considered humorous because apples are very unexpected as a weapon.
The opening of the novella holds a lot of importance for how the story is shaped out. Kafka presents everything in small bits as a beginning dose; each piece of information in the beginning paragraphs is developed later on in the text in more depth. He is able to present a story that from start to end is very consistent in style, theme and setting.