The Metamorphosis Characters
by Franz Kafka

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The Metamorphosis Characters

The main characters in The Metamorphosis are Gregor Samsa, Grete, Mr. Samsa, and Mrs. Samsa.

  • Gregor Samsa is a traveling salesman who wakes up one morning to find that he has transformed into a giant insect.
  • Grete is Gregor's sister. She cares for him after his metamorphosis.
  • Mr. Samsa is a bitter man who lashes out at Gregor and injures him.
  • Mrs. Samsa is a weak woman who defends Gregor but finds his presence intolerable.

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Gregor Samsa

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

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

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

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 firm. When, after five years of exemplary service, Gregor once fails to catch the five o’clock train to work, the Chief Clerk immediately rushes to Gregor’s apartment to demand an explanation.

The Three Lodgers

The three lodgers, unnamed and indistinguishable men. Each sports an identical full beard. The Samsas provide them room and board when Gregor is no longer able to bring in a salary. They voice their disgust at the sight of Gregor. After his death, they are peremptorily evicted by his newly assertive father.

The Charwoman

The charwoman, an old widow who adopts a matter-of-fact attitude toward her responsibility of cleaning up after the verminous Gregor. After discovering and disposing of his dead body, she is dismissed from employment by the Samsas.


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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 1,597 words.)