The Bantam Classics edition of Metamorphosis comprises of 56 pages of story preceded by 11 pages of introductory notes by the translator Stanley Corngold and followed by 49 pages of explanatory notes and 73 pages of critical essays ; reflective of how much the story has piqued the minds of many critics. The translators were also in predicament while selecting appropriate key words and different translators have used different words to describe Gregor Sama’s metamorphosed state- gigantic vermin, dung beetle or giant insect or cockroach. Kafka’s Metamorphosis is regarded as a sequel to Ovid’s Metamorphosis that trails the Metamorphosis of Archane the weaver into a spider by Athene.
Kafka describes the situation that the protagonist Gregor is faced with post the metamorphosis, while carefully omitting the trigger and the process of metamorphosis itself. Gregor is a salesman who despises his job but dredges merely to supports his family. He has not taken a single leave for 5 years and also locks himself in his own room and life. He is then physically transformed into a vermin, in sync with the life he has been leading, consuming garbage left by others. His family and his manager find the monster that they have created repugnant and disgusting on sight. The tolerance of his family that he had supported for so long and shielded from the hardship outside, diminishes by the day as they have to perform unpleasant tasks to earn money and finally they decide to discard whatever was left of him and this gave him the fatal blow.
For me, Metamorphosis symbolizes only a bad dream (even though Kafka categorically denies it to be so), a wake-up call from Life herself marking the demise of the vermin-like existence of Gregor supporting his parasitic family and this will be followed by his resuscitation to endorse life in its most beautiful form. For the incorrigible optimist in me, it represents not a sad end to a hard existence but a beginning to a beautiful and meaningful life!! Life beckons!!