The Metamorphosis Summary

The Metamorphosis Summary

Q. Write the summary of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.


Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis was published in 1915. It is written in German and has the original title Die Verwandlung, which means “The Transformation” in English.

The Metamorphosis has three sections, each showing a different stage in Gregor Samsa’s life after he turns into a giant insect. The story is about alienation, identity, and the absurdity of life, which are common in Kafka’s writing.

Part One

Gregor Samsa awakens one morning to find himself transformed into a gigantic insect. Initially confused, he soon realizes it is not a dream. Examining his new body, Gregor notices his many legs and hard shell.

His room, filled with samples for his job as a travelling salesman and a framed print of a lady wearing a muff, surrounds him. Sadness overwhelms him as he gazes out the window at the gray day. Gregor wants to return to sleep but cannot find a comfortable position due to his new body.

Lying in bed, Gregor worries about his exhausting job. His belly itches, and when he touches it with one of his legs, he feels a cold shiver.

He reflects on the importance of sleep and contemplates confronting his boss, but he knows he cannot because he needs to keep working to support his parents.

Gregor thinks about his family’s financial situation and how he will pay off their debt in a few years. Suddenly, he realizes he missed his alarm and the 5 a.m. train. Panic sets in as he considers the repercussions of missing work, knowing he has not taken a sick day in five years.

Gregor’s mother knocks on his door to wake him, and Gregor responds in a strange, squeaky voice. His father also starts knocking, asking what is wrong, followed by his sister, Grete, who urges him to open the door.

Gregor is glad he locked the door the previous night. He hopes that once he gets up, he will feel better. However, controlling his new body proves challenging, and he injures himself trying to get out of bed.

He pauses to rationalize his situation and decides that staying in bed is not an option. Gregor makes a new effort to get up, determined to overcome his physical limitations.

Struggles with Transformation

As Gregor struggles to get out of bed, the Chief Clerk from his office arrives at the door. Gregor is upset that his absence has been noticed so quickly. Grete and Gregor’s father inform him that the clerk is there.

Gregor hears his mother defending him to the clerk, insisting that Gregor is always dedicated and focused on his work. Gregor refuses to open the door for the Chief Clerk, and Grete cries.

The clerk calls Gregor “incredibly obstinate” and warns that his job may be jeopardised. Gregor makes a long, polite speech to defend himself but cannot open the door.

The Chief Clerk does not understand Gregor’s speech and exclaims that a human could not have made such noises. Gregor’s mother starts crying with Grete and calls for a doctor.

Amidst the commotion, Gregor remains calm and optimistic, believing his family will realize something is wrong and help him. He awkwardly attempts to unlock the door with his mouth, drooling a brown liquid in the process.

Gregor finally manages to open the door, shocking the Chief Clerk, his father, and his mother. His father begins to weep. Gregor stays halfway in his room, noticing the rainy weather, the breakfast plates, and a photo of himself in the army.

In a long speech, Gregor expresses his loyalty to his company and asks the Chief Clerk to stand up for him at work. The horrified clerk backs out of the room.

Gregor realizes that he cannot let the clerk leave in such a state, so he approaches him, finally dropping from an upright position onto his many legs, which he finds much more comfortable.

Gregor underestimates the alarm he is causing his mother and the clerk, only noticing that his mother has spilt the coffee and that the clerk has fled the house.

Family’s Reaction

Gregor’s father tries to force Gregor back into his bedroom using a cane and newspaper. Gregor has difficulty backing up, especially as his father keeps irritating him by saying, “Shoo.” Gregor struggles to fit through the doorway but understands that his father wants him in as quickly as possible.

He painfully wedges himself into the doorway, staining it, and his father pushes him the rest of the way in and slams the door. Throughout this section, Gregor’s family demonstrates concern for him, but there is also an underlying dependence on his income.

Gregor’s new insect body significantly affects his thoughts and actions, making it difficult for him to communicate and understand others’ reactions. His father’s attitude shifts dramatically from initial sadness to treating Gregor like the insect he has become.

This shift is likely influenced by both prejudices about insects and Gregor’s irrational, non-human behaviour. Gregor is no longer treated as a son but rather as the creature he appears to be.

Gregor’s transformation introduces a new burden of responsibility. While he was once devoted to supporting his family financially, he now has to contend with the challenges of his new body.

Despite the story’s surreal nature, Kafka clarifies that Gregor’s experiences are not magical dreams but rather a heightened reflection of reality.

Gregor’s concerns remain focused on everyday matters such as finances and his responsibility to his family. Kafka illustrates the close link between body and mind, showing how Gregor’s new body intrudes on his thoughts about his human life.

Despite his transformation, Gregor’s selfless nature and devotion to his family are evident as he continues to worry about their financial well-being. He has taken on extra responsibility and sacrificed his life for his family’s needs.

Part Two

Gregor wakes up at nightfall, still in pain. He finds milk and bread by the door, but they are distasteful despite milk being his favourite.

He notices a change in his family’s routine—his father no longer reads to Grete. Concerned, Gregor reflects on how he has been the family’s provider, fearing their comfortable life may turn into horror.

He crawls around his room to calm himself and hears his family going to bed quietly. He settles under the couch to rest but barely sleeps, planning how to help his family cope with his condition.

In the morning, Grete checks on Gregor, still shocked by his state. She replaces the uneaten milk and bread with rotting vegetables and other old food, which Gregor ravenously consumes, particularly enjoying the mouldiest portions.

Grete secretly feeds him in the afternoon when the others are not around. Gregor wonders why his family has not called a doctor. He overhears their conversations in the dining room, including the cook’s desperate request to quit, which the family grants, leaving Grete and her mother to cook.

Changes in Routine

Gregor’s changing appetite reflects his physical and emotional transformation. While his human mind associates fresh food with pleasure, his insect body rejects it.

He now comprehends the horror and financial difficulty his transformation has caused his family, dealing with these thoughts in a cockroach-like manner by crawling and hiding.

Grete’s attentiveness nourishes him as much as the food. He used to plan for her education, but now he hides to avoid disturbing her.

Gregor overhears his father discussing the family’s financial situation, which is stable due to their thriftiness. Gregor reflects on his family’s initial appreciation for his hard work, which eventually became dependent.

He recalls his hopes to support Grete’s future studies in violin. His father decides to return to work despite his age, while Gregor’s mother seems too old and unhealthy, and Grete is only 17. Gregor feels shame and grief over his family’s need to work.

Gregor’s sleep is troubled, and his eyesight worsens, making it hard to see outside. Grete is attentive to his needs, leaving a chair by the window for him, but she is abrupt and frantic when cleaning his room.

Gregor wishes he could thank her but feels upset about her behaviour. A month after his transformation, Grete finds Gregor on the chair instead of under the couch, getting scared and not returning for hours. Gregor realizes his repulsiveness and sets up a sheet to cover the sofa so that Grete won’t see him.


Gregor’s parents are curious but do not enter the room with Grete. After two months, Gregor’s mother wants to see him. In the meantime, Gregor amuses himself by walking on the ceiling, and Grete moves the furniture to make it easier for him.

Gregor’s mother enters to help Grete move a chest, but they struggle. She suggests that moving all the furniture might signal Gregor that they don’t expect him to recover. Gregor realizes how close he came to forgetting his humanity.

Grete disagrees with her mother, and they proceed to remove the chest. Gregor feels agitated by the room’s changes and saddened by the loss of his possessions, including his childhood desk.

When Grete and her mother leave the room, Gregor scuttles onto a cherished print to protect it from removal. Gregor feels neglected, recalling how his family took him for granted when he was human.

Gregor’s physical transformation is instant, but his psychological metamorphosis is gradual. Grete’s initial patience diminishes over time, transforming from sympathetic to weary and uncaring.

Grete’s Transformation

Gregor understands his irritation toward Grete’s hastiness. He has internalized his family’s shame and disgust, now feeling it himself. His coping strategies are passive, and he doubts his family would understand if he tried to communicate. He hopes retaining some furniture will help him maintain his humanity, as suggested by his mother.

Grete’s reaction to her mother’s plan shows she prioritizes her sense of responsibility over Gregor’s needs. She enjoys being the one he depends on, mirroring how Gregor’s self-worth was tied to his family’s dependence on him.

He returns to find Gregor on the wall and tries to get their mother out without noticing, but she looks up, screams, and faints. Grete runs for smelling salts, and Gregor follows, hoping to help.

He is terrified, drops the bottles, and runs back, closing the door behind her. Gregor, desperate, climbs all over the ceiling and walls until he falls onto the table.

Gregor’s father returns. Grete calls that Gregor has escaped, and his father, assuming the worst, yells at Gregor. Noticing his father’s improved appearance and uniform, Gregor realizes his father wants to stomp on him.

They engage in a chase, though uncertainly, until Gregor tires. His father starts throwing apples, one of which embeds in Gregor’s back, causing immense pain. As Gregor passes out, he sees his mother begging his father not to kill him.

Gregor underestimates the horror his appearance causes, failing to recognize his mother’s bravery. His nonverbal communication only incites panic, reflecting his insect-like skittering. His father’s aggression likely stems from an inability to see Gregor as his son, influenced by disgust.

Gregor notes how his family copes without him, a positive development yet a blow to his self-esteem. His father’s aggression also reflects his preconceptions about cockroaches and misinterpretation of Gregor’s actions. His family, influenced by appearances, struggles to empathize with his father, who is leading this path.

Part Three

Gregor’s injury from the apple lodged in his back severely cripples him, making it difficult for him to move around. This injury, however, causes his father to change his attitude and treat Gregor as part of the family rather than an enemy.

They leave the door to his room open, allowing Gregor to watch the family’s activities from his dark room. Despite this gesture, the family interactions are subdued. After dinner, Gregor’s father often falls asleep in his armchair, still wearing his dirty uniform.

His mother sews, and his sister, who has worked as a salesgirl, studies French and shorthand. Every night, his father and sister struggle to get him to bed. After letting the servant girl go, the family hires a charwoman to clean the house twice a day.

They have sold off valuable items and are considering moving to a smaller apartment but feel too weak to deal with Gregor’s situation. Gregor perceives their resignation to their misfortune and notes that his sister no longer meticulously takes care of him as before. She hastily cleans his room and neglects to choose his food carefully.

The Charwoman

The charwoman discovers Gregor but is not repulsed by him. She occasionally talks to him, which he finds annoying. His room becomes a storage area for unwanted items, leaving him little space to move.

The family rents out a room to three lodgers who bring their furniture, and Gregor’s room is used to store excess household items. One evening, the charwoman leaves Gregor’s door ajar while the lodgers are in the living room.

His mother and sister bring food to the lodgers, who inspect it before eating. The family now eats in the kitchen. The lodgers hear Gregor’s sister playing the violin and ask her to play in the living room.

As she plays, Gregor is drawn to the music and imagines confessing to her his plans to send her to the Conservatory. The lodgers, initially interested in the music, soon lose interest and start whispering among themselves.

Covered in dirt, Gregor crawls out of his room, dreaming of a closer bond with his sister. The lodgers notice him and react with amusement and disgust.

Gregor’s father tries to drive them back into their room, but they refuse to stay and give notice to leave, citing the unsanitary conditions. Grete then insists that the family must remove Gregor, calling him a burden.

She argues that if he were indeed Gregor, he would have left voluntarily to spare them. She claims that the creature is persecuting them and wants to drive them out of their home.

Overwhelmed, Gregor retreats to his room. Realizing the pain and suffering he causes his family, he decides to disappear. He dies in the early morning, filled with thoughts of his family’s well-being.

Gregor’s Death

The next morning, the charwoman discovers Gregor’s lifeless body and informs the family. They are initially relieved and then retreat to their bedroom to mourn. Mr. Samsa dismisses the lodgers, who quickly leave.

The family takes a day off to rest and spend time together. They write letters to their employers, announcing their intention to take a break. As the family rides the tram to the countryside, they feel optimistic about the future.

They plan to move to a smaller, more manageable apartment. Mr. and Mrs. Samsa notice that their daughter, Grete, has blossomed into a young woman, and they begin to think about finding her a husband.

Gregor’s injury forces the family to change their approach, leaving his door open to include him in their lives. However, this inclusion is superficial, as the family’s interactions remain distant and routine.

The family’s financial struggles worsen, leading them to make sacrifices and adjustments, such as letting go of the servant and taking on the charwoman.

Gregor’s room becoming a storage space symbolizes his diminished role and the family’s attempt to move on without him. The lodgers represent a new source of income but also add to the household’s tension.

Gregor’s growing resentment towards his family and their neglect of him becomes evident. His sister’s decreasing care and the fight between his mother and sister over cleaning his room signify the family’s deteriorating bonds. Gregor’s physical and emotional isolation deepens.

The violin scene is pivotal, as it stirs a strong emotional response in Gregor, reminding him of his humanity and love for his sister. His attempt to connect with her through the music highlights his longing for the past and the relationships he once valued.

The lodgers’ disinterest in the music contrasts with Gregor’s emotional reaction, emphasizing his retained humanity despite his physical form.

Grete’s declaration that the family must eliminate Gregor marks a turning point. Her harsh words and insistence that Gregor is no longer her brother reflect her frustration and the family’s desperation.

Gregor’s death symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice for his family’s well-being. His acceptance of his role in their suffering and his decision to die highlight his enduring love and selflessness.

The story concludes with the family’s renewed hope and plans for the future. Their decision to move to a smaller apartment and recognition of Grete’s growth suggests a fresh start. Gregor’s death, while tragic, allows the family to reclaim their lives and look forward to a brighter future.