Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Gregor Samsa, a young traveling salesman who awakes one morning to find himself transformed into a hideous vermin. Self-effacing to the point of suicide, he dutifully leaves the family apartment early every day for a job he hates so that he can pay off his father’s debts. Incapacitated by his new physical form and scorned by his mother, father, and sister, he expires of his own volition.
Grete Samsa, Gregor’s younger sister, an aspiring violinist whose studies at a musical conservatory Gregor hopes to be able to finance. After the metamorphosis, she shows some compassion for her deformed brother but eventually comes to share her parents’ belief that all would be best if Gregor disappeared.
Mr. Samsa, Gregor’s father, a stern disciplinarian who violently attacks Gregor when his deformed son dares venture out of his room. Following a business failure, Mr. Samsa sits around the apartment reading the newspaper while Gregor is off at work earning money to pay off his debts. After Gregor’s metamorphosis, he gets a job as a bank guard.
Anna Samsa, Gregor’s mother. Following Gregor’s metamorphosis, she gets a job making underwear. She acquiesces to her husband’s insistence that Gregor must disappear.
The Chief Clerk
The Chief Clerk, Gregor’s immediate boss at the sales...
(The entire section is 346 words.)
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The central character in The Metamorphosis is Gregor Samsa who awakens one morning to find that he has turned, literally, into an insect, a state of being from which he is unable to extricate himself. Bullied by everyone in the household except his sister, Gregor gradually dies from a combination of starvation, for love as much as anything else, and deprivation, especially of those things like music and art which have sustained Gregor in his cramped and limited life.
Gregor's father, without a job at the beginning of the story, is living off of the toil of his son and later, the slim rent he extracts from lodgers who are basically the responsibility of his wife. Gregor's mother, although not overly a malignant influence on his life and demise, desperately wants to forget that the metamorphosis has ever taken place. Only Gregor's sister shows him any compassion, after her initial shock, but she, too, eventually ignores him in response to the budding life within her.
The world for Gregor is summed up in the treatment he is meted out by his office. A faithful and energetic worker who has exhibited loyalty and labored hard for a number of years, Gregor is punished severely, almost savagely, the minute he shows the slightest intention of deviating from the rigid schedule of the office. His first day of absence brings immediate concern, not for his well-being, but for his lack of punctuality. In the world of Franz Kafka everyone is punished...
(The entire section is 255 words.)
Hired by the Samsas to replace their live-in servant, the charwoman is a tough old woman who, unlike the other characters, is neither horrified nor frightened by Gregor's insect form. She even refers to Gregor affectionately as ''the old dung beetle'' and less affectionately threatens him with a chair. She is the one who discovers that Gregor has died and who cheerfully disposes of his body.
The chief clerk from Gregor's firm comes to the Samsa house to find out why Gregor has not shown up for work. When Gregor delays coming out of his room, the clerk criticizes him for poor work performance and reports that the head of the firm suspects Gregor of embezzling funds. When Gregor finally emerges, the clerk flees in horror.
See Mr. Samsa.
See Mrs. Samsa.
See Grete Samsa.
Gregor Samsa, the protagonist of the story, is a self-sacrificing, dutiful young man who is mysteriously transformed into a giant insect as the story begins. He lives with his parents and his sister, whom he has been supporting by working as a travelling salesman, a job he very much dislikes, but which he devotes his life to: he seems to have no close friends and no social life. There are hints of repressed resentment in...
(The entire section is 995 words.)