The Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis means a change from one thing to another. Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" deals several changes, Gregor's transformation into a giant bug being the most dramatic. His transformation is also the catalyst for change to happen around him. His family experiences changes in their mindset and lifestyle, greatly altering their situation by the end of the story. Although they are supporting characters to Gregor, the fact that the story does not end when Gregor dies suggests that it is about his family as much as him. Of the Samsa family, Gregor's sister Grete undergoes the greatest change in thoughts and behaviour.

Grete begins as a "useless daughter"(431). She is seventeen years old and her life is made up of "dressing herself nicely, sleeping long, helping with housework, going out to modest entertainments and above all playing the violin."(418) She does not work or have any particular plans for the future. She wants to go to the Conservatorium and study violin, but this is "merely a beautiful dream"(417) . Gregor plans to pay for her to attend, but she has made no attempt to get there herself.

As well as taking no responsibility for her life, Grete behaves childishly at the beginning of the story. When it is discovered that Gregor has not left for work, she whispers to him through the door, trying not to anger her father and to integrate herself with Gregor so that he will tell her what is wrong. Gregor says that they have always been "intimate,"(417) and Grete seems to be very scared for her big brother being sick or loosing his job. She already seems to take care of him a bit, asking "aren't you well? Are you needing anything?"(404)

Grete's roll as a caretaker expands quickly when Gregor's condition is discovered. Since their parents wont go near Gregor even to care for him, this is her first real responsibility. Her caring nature is demonstrated to be childishly obsessive when she tries to discover what food he likes. She carefully prepares many different types of food such as "a dry roll of bread, a buttered roll and a roll both buttered and salted."(415) she is doing her best but Gregor acknowledges that she may have taken on his care "out of childish thoughtlessness."(419)

Grete's care of Gregor quickly becomes less focused on his welfare and more focused on her own status.

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