Metamorphosis is one of the most famous works in world literature, and possibly has the most memorable opening lines in the history of story telling, - 'As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning after disturbing dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect'. A standard interpretation of this allegorical tale is that Gregor's transformation from hard working travelling salesman, providing for his family, to a grotesque useless insect that provokes disgust and pity and ultimately rejection by his family, represents physical disability, and society's treatment of it. I can see this in the story, but I read Kafka as essentially portraying his nightmare of the barrier between the public and personal inner world being removed. The private mental life, with its sensitive and raw secrets, its ugly and embarrasing little features, the desires and instincts that we strive to keep hidden, and/or are forced to repress. The bug is the embodiment of the ugly and raw inside turned out, exposed for all the world to see. Particularly nightmarish for Gregor (kafka) is the fact that those who see are those he loves and whose rejecton he fears most of all - his family.
That a short story of less than one hundred pages allows so many interpretative possibilities stands as a testament to Kafka's unique power to draw the reader into a hypnotic world of dark archetypal imagery. Upon finishing this novella, you may feel as though awoken from disturbing dreams, dreams that will nevetheless have cast some strange new light on your waking day.