Franz Kafka wrote the Metamorphosis; it was first published in 1915
Gregor Samsa wakes up from uneasy dreams and finds he has been transformed into a giant vermin. Laying on his armored back he wonders what has happened to him. Samsa was supposed to travel today; he is a travelling salesman. Samsa looks out at the rain and decides to go back to bed and when he wakes up he’ll be right as rain. As he tries to roll over to be comfortable he thinks about how much he hates his job. He says that because he wakes up so early every day that he needs sleep every once in a while. Then he says that he’s only doing the job for his family. In five or six years he’ll have worked off his parent’s debt and then he’ll be free.
Gregor says it’s about time to get up and he realizes that he’s missed his train. He’ll have to catch the next one. He knows he’ll get a pound of shrapnel in his ass about this, but it’ll be okay. He thinks maybe he can call in sick, but he’s already worked five years without calling in sick; that’d be suspicious. As Gregor overthinks the situation his mother comes knocking on his door and tells him he ought to be on his way. Then his father starts banging loudly asking what’s going on why he didn’t leave already. Gregor for a while tries to get out of bed but it is extremely difficult to do so. As he is halfway out of the bed there is a ring at the doorbell. The servant opens the door and it is his boss. He wonders why he’s the only one in his family condemned to work in the office.
Gregor drops out of the bed with a loud thud. His father tells Gregor that the manager wants to know why Gregor didn’t leave on the early train. The family says he isn’t well or else he’d be on the train. The family falls apart at the manager asking to see Gregor. The father gets angry the mother makes excuses and his sister just starts crying. But Gregor doesn’t move to open the door. The manager then gets quite angry and demands an explanation saying Gregor is letting everyone, him and his family, down by barricading himself in his room.
“Originally I intended to mention all this to you privately, but since you are letting me waste my time here uselessly, I don’t know why the matter shouldn’t come to the attention of your parents. Your productivity has also been very unsatisfactory recently. Of course, it’s not the time of year to conduct exceptional business, we recognize that, but a time of year for conducting no business, there is no such thing at all, Mr. Samsa, and such a thing must never be.”
Gregor asks the manager to take it easy on his parents and makes a speech about all of this, but it doesn’t come out. He wants to open the door, but he still doesn’t. The mother starts crying, the manager gets quite angry, and the family calls for a doctor and locksmith.
With incredible ardor and trouble Gregor opens the lock with his strange mouth. The door opens, and everyone is horror struck at him. Gregor apologizes to his family saying he’ll get dressed and ready immediately. But the manager begins to run from his sight.
“Gregor realized that he must not under any circumstances allow the manager to go away in this frame of mind, especially if his position in the firm was not to be placed in the greatest danger. His parents did not understand all this very well.”
But the manager gets away. Gregor’s father chases him back into his room and his mother screams and cries. He makes it to his room but can’t get through the door. Gregor’s father pushes him, hurting him, causing him to bleed profusely, but he scurries into the room where the door is slammed behind him.
Gregor wakes up well rested. It is night and he tries to reach the door. Gregor is wounded badly but then notices a bowl of milk with bread in it. He doesn’t like the milk and so goes back to the middle of the room. He can see through a crack in the door. He thinks about the quiet life his family lives, then he creeps under the couch and sleeps.
Grete, his sister, opens the door the next morning then slams it when she sees him. But then she goes and brings him some rotting vegetables and trash. He eats the food greedily. For a few days this is how it goes; Grete brings Gregor trash.
“They certainly would not have wanted Gregor to starve to death, but perhaps they could not have endured finding out what he ate other than by hearsay. Perhaps his sister wanted to spare them what was possibly only a small grief, for they were really suffering quite enough already.”
He listens to his family as the days go by and they start going out more. The housekeeper quits, and he hears the father lay out the financial circumstances. Gregor thought there was nothing from his father’s failed business, but he has a lockbox with money in it. Gregor is happy that they have money and they have enough to live off of for about two years. Gregor is confused why his father didn’t share this information with him though. He wouldn’t have had to work for so long and sacrificed to much of his money if he knew his father had all this.
About a month after his transformation Gregor’s family becomes more accustomed to him in his room. They clean the room and ignore Gregor largely. They give up hope for Gregor and take the furniture from the room away. Gregor is unhappy that they are taking his stuff, but he can’t stop them as he has no use for the things. But, he tries save a picture of his that they want to take but he makes a mess of it. The mother faints, Grete screams, and Gregor gets stabbed by a shard of glass. The father comes home and hears of this and flies into a rage. Gregor is surprised at his father’s appearance. For years he had been so weak and frail.
“But now he was standing up really straight, dressed in a tight-fitting blue uniform with gold buttons, like the ones servants wear in a banking company. Above the high stiff collar of his jacket his firm double chin stuck out prominently, beneath his bushy eyebrows the glance of his black eyes was freshly penetrating and alert, his otherwise disheveled white hair was combed down into a carefully exact shining part.
His father tries to kick and squash him and so Gregor scurries away. He grabs apples and begins pelting Gregor with them. A few bounce off him then one really hurts him bad and then the mother runs out begging the father to spare Gregor’s life.
It is the third month. A month since the apple seriously wounded him. Gregor can no longer move well at all, and so he lies in the darkness all day. The mother stiches garments, the father has his job as a servant at the bank, and Grete has a job as a salesgirl and is studying French in her free time. Gregor laments his sad overworked exhausted family. They no longer worry about him. They had let the other servant go and now only have an old cleaning woman. They sell off jewelry and though they want to leave the apartment, they can’t move Gregor and so they stay.
As the days go by Gregor starts to get angry at the poor care he gets from his family. They barely give him food, and they pay him no attention. The room isn’t cleaned anymore and the dirt and grime pile up. The dampness and grime worsen Gregor’s condition, but Grete makes sure that it isn’t cleaned. Gregor has almost entirely given up eating now. And the family starts using the room for storage, and the family rents out one of the apartments rooms to three gentlemen.
Then one day Grete starts playing the violin again. The lodgers like the violin and have Grete play for them. They love it. And Gregor creeps out of his room to watch. He wants Grete to play for him in his room. One of the lodger’s spots Gregor. The father calms the lodgers and pushes them into the kitchen. They demand explanations and eventually say that they will leave and that they won’t be paying for their rooms. The family is in a terrible state of this.
“My dear parents,” said the sister banging her hand on the table by way of an introduction, “things cannot go on any longer in this way. Maybe if you don’t understand that, well, I do. I will not utter my brother’s name in front of this monster, and thus I say only that we must try to get rid of it. We have tried what is humanly possible to take care of it and to be patient. I believe that no one can criticize us in the slightest.” “She is right in a thousand ways,” said the father to himself.”
They agree that they need to get rid of the monster.
“You must try to get rid of the idea that this is Gregor. The fact that we have believed for so long, that is truly our real misfortune. But how can it be Gregor? If it were Gregor, he would have long ago realized that a communal life among human beings is not possible with such an animal and would have gone away voluntarily. Then we would not have a brother, but we could go on living and honour his memory. But this animal plagues us. It drives away the lodgers, will obviously take over the entire apartment, and leave us to spend the night in the alley.”
Gregor crawls back into the room not wanting to be a burden on his family. He asks himself what now? The next day the cleaning lady comes in and realizes that Gregor is dead.
“Come and look. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s lying there, totally snuffed!”
The family rejoices, though are a bit sad at Gregor’s demise. Mr. Samsa now filled with power kicks the lodgers out. They don’t work that day. They relax and take a walk that day. They decide to sell the apartment and to let the cleaning lady go. Then they all leave the apartment together as a family, which they haven’t done for a long time and they take a ride on the electric train car.
“It struck Mr. and Mrs. Samsa, almost at the same moment, how their daughter, who was getting more animated all the time, had blossomed recently, in spite of all the troubles which had made her cheeks pale, into a beautiful and voluptuous young woman. Growing more silent and almost unconsciously understanding each other in their glances, they thought that the time was now at hand to seek out a good honest man for her. And it was something of a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when at the end of their journey their daughter got up first and stretched her young body.”