The Metamorphosis: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. "It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer." (p. 2) This framed picture is an important item in Gregor's room that's mentioned early in the story. It demonstrates Gregor's desire for the romantic relationship he is unable to pursue because of his overwhelming misplaced responsibility for his family.
  2.  "What a strenuous career it is that I've chosen! Travelling day in and day out." (p. 2) This is ironic because Gregor never did choose this alienating career. He was forced by his father, who was indebted to his boss, to take on the job as traveling salesman to pay off his father's financial obligations.
  3. "That was the voice of an animal." (p. 8). The Chief Clerk says this after rushing to the Samsa family's apartment after the boss notices Gregor is late for work. Gregor attempts to make his excuses but all that comes out of his mouth is garbled insect sounds. In the modern world, people work without appreciation like machines, or animals.
  4. "The washing up from breakfast lay on the table; there was so much of it because, for Gregor's father, breakfast was the most important meal of the day and he would stretch it out for several hours as he sat reading a number of different newspapers." (p. 9) The many dishes illustrate how much time Gregor's father, who is perfectly healthy, spends sitting around eating breakfast and reading various newspapers while his lonely son works to support the entire family.
  5. "He isn't well, please believe me. Why else would Gregor have missed a train! The lad only ever thinks about the business. It nearly makes me cross the way he never goes out in the evenings; he's been in town for a week now but stayed home every evening. He sits with us in the kitchen and just reads the paper or studies train timetables." (p. 6) Mrs. Samsa makes Gregor's excuses to the Chief Clerk after he arrives in the family apartment the morning Gregor is transformed into a giant insect. It demonstrates the way Gregor lives while supporting his undeserving family.
  6. "He sallied out, changed direction four times not knowing what he should save first before his attention was suddenly caught by the picture on the wall - which was already denuded of everything else that had been on it - of the lady dressed in copious fur. He hurried up onto the picture and pressed himself against its glass, it held him firmly and felt good on his hot belly. This picture at least, now totally covered by Gregor, would certainly be taken away by no-one." (p. 19) When Mrs. Samsa and Grete enter Gregor's room to remove the furniture so he can have more room to move around, Gregor becomes upset because he sees this as the removal of the last vestiges of his humanity, especially the removal of the picture of the female he sexually admires
  7. "It seemed remarkable to Gregor that above all the various noises of eating their chewing teeth could still be heard, as if they had wanted to show Gregor that you need teeth in order to eat and it was not possible to perform anything with jaws that are toothless however nice they might be. 'I'd like to eat something,' said Gregor anxiously, 'but not anything like they're eating. They do feed themselves. And here I am, dying!'" (p. 26) Near the end of the novella, the charwoman is the only person who pays much attention to Gregor. Gregor's sister Grete refuses to feed or clean up after him any more. He is starving to death and finally beginning to get angry.
  8. "He watched as it slowly began to get light everywhere outside the window too. Then, without his willing it, his head sank down completely, and his last breath flowed weakly from his nostrils." (p. 29) This is Gregor's death scene. He dies after being rejected by his sister, alienated from his family, indeed from any human being after his usefulness to everyone runs out.
  9. "At first she would call to him as she did so with words that she probably considered friendly, such as 'come on then, you old dung-beetle!', or 'look at the old dung-beetle there'!" (p. 24) Near the end of the novel, the only person Gregor impresses anymore is the old charwoman who is hired to do the heavier chores after the maid is fired. She teases him, by calling him a "dung-beetle," which we can interpret as a particularly low life form. She is the one who finds Gregor after he dies and disposes of him so his family doesn't have to.
  10. "Just from each other's glance and almost without knowing it they agreed that it would soon be time to find a good man for her. And, as if in confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions, as soon as they reached their destination Grete was the first to get up and stretch out her young body. (p. 33) This is the final scene in the novella in which the Samsas' celebrate Gregor's death with a trip to the country. Things are looking up for them now that they all have jobs. They can move to smaller quarters and save money; they don't have to bother with the giant insect in the next room anymore. From the look the parents exchange it appears they might have found a new "cash cow" to support them in the manner of Gregor.

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