books · Review

The Metamorphosis 

Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to discover that he has been transformed into a horrendous beetle-like creature. This story reflects on how the family, and Gregor himself, deals with this awful event. It’s perhaps one of the strangest pieces of literature around and a very short yet impactful and thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Metamorphosis is an absolutely fantastic reflection on how people with illnesses can be treated by even those closest to us. Their utter disgust at Gregor and their lack of understanding for his situation was, to me, a great reflection of how a person may treat someone specifically with a mental illness.

People have been known to treat mentally ill people as almost a different species; they can’t (and won’t) understand why the person is the way they are and find them to be completely unlike themselves. The fact that Gregor had turned into this disgusting beetle-like creature was a great metaphor for this, showing mental illness as a horrible thing, but then also showing the person suffering from it as becoming this thing. Gregor, however, did not find himself to be changed and disgusting but actually no different from how he used to be. It was the people around him who were disgusted by him.

At first Gregor was in complete denial and thought it was something he was able to snap out of. This is a common misunderstanding with mental illnesses and further showed how harmful it can be when you can’t accept it and try to do your best to help the situation. The family were hoping for “the old Gregor” to come back, for him to make a miraculous recovery despite the complete lack of support and love shown to him. The longer Gregor was in this bug like state, the less hope they had. They even started to say that Gregor wasn’t even in that body, almost as if he was already gone to them and had been since this first happened to him.

The neglect mentally ill people face from the people close to them can be fatal, as depicted in this book. The fact that they relied on Gregor for so long and he happily supported them, yet the minute something bad happened to him they turned on him shows us how we shouldn’t take anyone for granted, and we should return the kindness others treat us with. The ugly transformation happened overnight which was an eye opening and grabbing way of saying that these things happen with no warning whatsoever. The Metamorphosis in general helps us to reflect on our own lives and the people around us, making us more aware of the situations people are in and how we can help them, or be helped ourselves.

I find that this book could have many different meanings depending entirely on the person reading it, the things they’ve been through and the situation they’re currently in. I’m sure more philosophical people will have a deeper and better understanding of the messages behind this book, but the fact that it’s so accessible leaves it open to any interpretation, without being able to call any right or wrong.

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