Grete's Metamorphosis Essay

1127 words - 5 pages

Tyler De Jesus

Barry Webster


12 October 2012

Grete’s Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka’s intriguing literary work, “The Metamorphosis,” details the physical change a man experiences and its subsequent effect on those around him. Within the novella, Gregor Samsa’s unexplained transformation into a monstrous vermin affects his entire family, and in particular his sister, Grete. This change leaves the family distraught, but allows Grete the liberty to flourish into her own person. The pressures of a metamorphosis, as seen through Grete’s example, force people to change accordingly to the one being metamorphosed. This theme is illustrated through her relationship ...view middle of the document...

She completely bifurcates her brother’s identity from his gruesome, metamorphosed body, and in doing so she finally claims an assertive position. She realizes she can live up to her potential and knows he is holding her back. By distancing herself from her brother, in ceasing to act as his caretaker, she is able to become a strong, self-reliant person. Grete’s psychological evolution, from her perceived duty to care for her brother to her wanting to exterminate him signifies her advancement into independence, because she realizes her self-worth. Grete’s value is further defined through her emerging role within her family.

Through Gregor’s transformation, Grete is able to achieve an upward metamorphosis of her role within the family, because it gives her responsibilities and duties for the first time. Grete is initally an insignificant member within the Samsa household, and her weakness is made clear: "[I]n the room on the right side the sister began to cry" (Kafka 17). By hiding in an adjacent room and whispering, instead of standing directly outside of Gregor’s room and speaking to him, her stature as a Samsa is evident. She is reduced to crying in a corner because she has no voice, that is, her opinion is insignifiant compared to those of her parents. However, her brother’s transformation also causes her to change accordingly. As he is relegated in the family hierarchy, Grete is presented with a burgeoning opportunity for advancement. As their relationship changes, so does her role in the family. She becomes assertive for the first time by taking measures to increase her value: "[She] had taken work as a salesgirl, was learning stenography and French at night so that she might possibly get a better job some day" (Kafka 39). Finding a job and training to gain better employment shows that Grete desires being a valuable asset to her family. Gregor was initially the sole breadwinner of the household, and filling the void he left places Grete in a position of power within her family. The fact that she is also learning new skills demonstrates her desire for authority; something which she repressed when Gregor was the family’s provider. This new mentality is indicative of Grete’s metamorphosis, from a feeble member to a valuable breadwinner, and arguably the most powerful member of the family; a complete role reversal. This change can further be interpreted as an evolution into...

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