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This story starts out with the main character, Gregor's infamous transformation into a dung beetle. Although he has transformed into a beetle Gregor maintains his human sense and feelings. The story then progresses on to describe Gregor and his family's reaction and how they dealt with Gregor's new form. Gregor himself is not that much effected by his new form. In fact he reacts very casually when he first finds out that he has become a monstrous beetle over night. His first major concern lies in his job and his ability to provide for his family. The family, however, has a much different reaction to Gregor's metamorphosis. They are shocked and frightened of the new Gregor. His mother faints numerous times upon seeing him and his family begins to treat him as no more but an insect. They soon neglect to see him as Gregor, the son and brother, but as some beast that burdens them. Their disgust towards Gregor soon leads them to neglect him physically.


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Kafka effectively uses Gregor's metamorphosis to develop the characters. Before the metamorphosis we can see that Gregor was an unhappy worker. He hated his job (a traveling salesman) and felt distanced from society. Becoming a beetle could be seen as a way for him to relieve himself of all these duties and obligations, but it only brings him more pain, as his family turns on him. This emphasizes the fact that either way Gregor is doomed to live an unhappy life. However, through it all, he only thinks about his family and wants the best for them. The family however isn't able to view Gregor as a human being in his new form. The only person who seems to care for Gregor initially is his sister, but that changes as the story progresses. The climax of the story occurs when the sister turns on her brother and tells her parents that they should get rid of "it." Gregor, overhearing this, chooses to die for the sake of his family. His choice to sacrifice himself for his family's happiness stresses his humanity despite his animal like appearance in comparison to his family's inhuman treatment and cruelty towards him.

Overall, the Metamorphosis primarily deals with the faults of human nature, and that is the inability to accept the unknown and the inability to go past physical appearances.