The Metamorphosis


Franz Kafka

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Themes and Colors
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Metamorphosis, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon

Gregor always has the best intentions, but he fails to communicate them effectively, and always makes blunders that increase his family's difficulties. The most heart-wrenching example of a well-intentioned, failed gesture comes during Grete's violin concert for the boarders. Gregor wants to prove that he's not a mere animal, and feels that the music will offer him the "unknown nourishment" he's lacking (which suggests that a lack of art and beauty contribute to his death, shortly after the concert). He creeps forward in a fit of optimism and affection, but of course his actions ruin the concert and destroy his family's attempt to make money. In this situation and in the many other moments of failed good intentions, Gregor's problem is his inability to communicate. Even without talking, he ought to be able to use body language to show what he intends, but his insect-like brain prevents him from acting in an understandable way.

This theme demonstrates the extreme importance of effective communication, as well as the way that people's preconceptions and opinions create walls. To take another example, Gregor's father's certainty that Gregor's scuttling is threatening, not just nervous, leads him to attack his son.

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Intentions vs. Outcomes ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Intentions vs. Outcomes appears in each section of The Metamorphosis. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Intentions vs. Outcomes Quotes in The Metamorphosis

Below you will find the important quotes in The Metamorphosis related to the theme of Intentions vs. Outcomes.
Section 1 Quotes

You amaze me, you amaze me. I thought you were a quiet, dependable person, and now all at once you seem bent on making a disgraceful exhibition of yourself.

Related Characters: Chief Clerk (speaker), Gregor Samsa
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

The chief clerk must be detained, soothed, persuaded and finally won over; the whole future of Gregor and his family depended on it!

Related Characters: Gregor Samsa, Chief Clerk
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:
Section 3 Quotes

Was he an animal, that music had such an effect on him?

Related Characters: Gregor Samsa
Related Symbols: Grete's violin
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

He thought of his family with tenderness and love.

Related Characters: Gregor Samsa
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis: