A great story to introduce the theme of alienation. Nabakov’s lecture on the story is outstanding. I would not necessarily recommend showing this dramatization of a lecture to the class, but it served as excellent inspiration for my teaching prep. Here is a link:
- Find a correlation between Gregor’s experience and your own life narrative. I like to have students generate this correlation before class, to establish a ground for relating the text to readers.
- Is there any sense in which Gregor was an “insect” before his physical transformation? This question enables students to see how the physical tranformation functions allegorically.
- Is there any sense in which the other “non-transformed” family members behave like insects?
- What kind of insect is Gregor? This is a question worth exploring on the basis of Gregor’s own self-reporting. Perhaps Kafka answers the question at the end when the charwoman calls Gregor a “dung beetle.” The epithet seems apt, to the extent that Gregor is indeed a tireless laborer, virtually a Sysiphus of Shit. The dung beetle has added resonance by virtue of its status as the “scarab,” a totem of the life eternal for the religion of ancient Egypt.