Point of View in The Metamorphosis

Instructor: Jacob Belknap

Jake has taught English in middle and high school, has a degree in Literature, and has a master's degree in teaching.

Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis tells the story of a traveling salesman waking up to find he has become an insect. The third-person limited perspective allows readers to get in the character's head and see what happens outside his room.

The Metamorphosis Background

Have you ever felt a transition come over you that changes your world? This change can happen gradually or all at once. For Gregor Samsa, this change comes literally overnight. In Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis, Gregor goes from being a human, traveling salesman when he goes to sleep to an enormous insect. The rest of the story details him and his family adjusting to this new life.

The Metamorphosis cover.

Let's focus on how this story is told by examining the point of view.

The Point of View

The story is told in third-person limited view or perspective. This means the narrator is not a character in the story but tells the events from a knowledgeable place. The narrator is able to dive deeply into one character's thoughts, feelings, and circumstances to better understand his perspective. Kafka chooses to maintain a singular focus on Gregor for most of the short novel with brief switches to other characters' views.

Let's take a look at how this perspective influences the story.

The Narrator's Focus on Gregor

Through Gregor Samsa's eyes, the reader is able to experience the horrible metamorphosis with him. The story opens with the line ''One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.'' So this story will continue to unfold mainly through the thoughts and feelings of Gregor. Since he is the protagonist, it is fitting that the perspective focuses on him. The reader becomes involved in his isolation alongside him because of the perspective.

We come to understand Gregor's circumstances along with him. When he feels a sensation, the narrator informs the reader of the sensation prior to letting on what that means. For instance, an itch starts out as discomfort and then is named. In the same way, readers get a sense of Gregor's hunger and newfound repugnance for foods he used to enjoy.

Through this perspective, the reader is able to ''see'' his inner monologue. We can feel his isolation and desperation. For so long Gregor has worked a mundane job to support a family that now despises him. Through his thoughts, we can feel his despair at coming to these realizations.

Going Beyond the Door

The narrator of this story also moves beyond Gregor's viewpoint. The narrator goes to the opposite side of the door, a place Gregor almost never goes after the beginning of the story. It is through the narrator focusing on events outside Gregor's room that the reader is able to see events hidden from the protagonist.

The narrator shows the family's reactions to Gregor's bizarre situation. Through their eyes, the reader is able to see their confusion, horror, and mounting disgust with Gregor's physical state.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account