The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

Important Quotations Explained

3. Did he really want the warm room, so cozily appointed with heirlooms, transformed into a lair, where he might, of course, be able to creep, unimpeded, in any direction, though forgetting his human past swiftly and totally?

This quotation, which occurs in Part 2 as Grete and the mother empty Gregor’s room of furniture, marks the climax of Gregor’s struggle to reconcile his human past with his new life and physical form. Gregor’s transformation alters his body, but it leaves his thoughts and feelings intact. But shortly after the metamorphosis, Gregor’s thoughts and feelings start to change according to the physical demands and urges of his new body. Gregor finds that he feels comfortable in the cramped, dark space beneath his sofa, for instance, and he enjoys crawling on the ceiling. These changes imply that his mind is adapting to his new body, and that he is becoming an insect psychologically as well.

But Gregor still retains his human memories and emotions, such as his desire to take care of his family. As a result, he feels pulled in opposing directions by the insect and human sides of himself, and this inner conflict reaches its height when he is forced to choose whether he wants his room emptied of furniture. On the one hand, not having furniture would allow Gregor much more freedom to crawl over the floors and walls, which would make him physically more comfortable. On the other hand, his possessions serve as physical reminders of his human life, and keeping them would allow him to preserve what humanity he has left, making him feel more comfortable psychologically. In other words, Gregor must choose between appeasing his insect side or his human side. Gregor decides to appease his human side, and he clings to the picture of the woman in furs as a reminder of his human life.