The Metamorphosis: Window Quotes

Instructor: Tina Miller

Tina earned an MFA in Creative Writing, has several published novels and short stories, and teaches English and writing.

While life is in disarray for Gregor Samsa once he transforms into a beetle in Franz Kafka's ''The Metamorphosis,'' there are few constants, like windows. Peer into this lesson to see the Samsa family drawn to the window.

A Transparent Peek

Published in Pulp Fiction Magazine in 1915, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, examines the psychological and physical struggles that one would face as a beetle. Gregor Samsa is the poor soul who awakes one morning as a beetle. No longer can he travel the streets as a salesman. No longer can he sit at the dinner table with his family. No longer can he peer out the window with the same perspective he had as a human. Looking beyond the surface glass, readers view that every aspect of his life and his perception of common things, like windows, change.

Pulp Fiction Magazine
Pulp Fiction Magazine

Changes in Attitudes

Gregor Samsa's family is grief-stricken. His mother has a son who has turned into a beetle. His sister cannot recognize her brother anymore. Yet, they both must find ways to cohabitate with the vermin. It's only fair; he is still family. When anyone enters Gregor's room, they are immediately reminded of his past person because of the bed he slept in, the bureau that he kept his clothes in. One fixture; however, that lacked a clear connection to Gregor is the window.

Whenever her courage allows, Gregor's mother will enter his room. The window calls to her. ''Across the room, despite the chilly weather, Gregor's mother had pulled open a window, leant far out of it and pressed her hands to her face.'' It's a place where she can grieve, in the open, but safe from the outside world. This window, as she opens it, as well, offers a sense of newness to the nightmare that the Samsa's are experiencing. ''A strong draught of air flew in from the street towards the stairway, the curtains flew up, the newspapers on the table fluttered and some of them were blown onto the floor.'' As the wind blows through the window, it's a reminder to Mrs. Samsa that life goes on.

It's also a reminder to Gregor's sister, who also escapes to the window. ''...she would go straight to the window and pull it hurriedly open almost as if she were suffocating. Even if it was cold, she would stay at the window breathing deeply for a little while.'' The window provided a space for solace because ''...it was impossible for her to be in the same room with him with the windows closed.''

A Window Through Which a Beetle Peers
A Window Through Which a Beetle Peers

Even Gregor would look out the window at times, perhaps impeding on his sister's wishes. ''...she came into the room a little earlier than usual and found him still staring out the window, motionless...it would have been difficult for her to immediately open the window while he was still there.'' Everyone deserves their moment of peace at that window.

Changes in Latitudes

Nearly everything in Gregor's life changes, even his perception of the view from the window. ''...he had used to curse the ever-present view of the hospital across the street, but now he could not see it at all...'' Nothing was normal. No longer could he stand and peer out the window. He is much closer to the floor, and even if he crawls up to the window, his views are different. If he didn't know any better, ''...he could have thought that he was looking out the window at a barren waste where the grey sky and the grey earth mingled inseparably.'' At least, he knows what he should be looking at.

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