In a work of fiction, a writer uses different characters to evolve a story and convey his idea through their personality. Without characters and their development, the story cannot progress. In the story, Kafka moves his characters and makes them pass through different phases and situation. Some of the characters have been discussed below. The main quotes given in this analysis are taken from Ian Johnston’s translation of the novella.
Characters in The Metamorphosis
The major character of The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa is the main source of income of the Samsa family. He feels responsible for the whole family and earns his wages by working as a traveling salesman in a company. However, his transformation into a bug cripples him. Not only has he lost the ability to earn, but he also has lost his importance in the family as well as the company. Shortly after the transformation, he doesn’t come out of the room and slowly responds to the calling of his mother and sister.
Meanwhile, when the manager comes and threatens him, he does not budge either. Finally, his sister succeeds after coaxing him to open the door. She feels shocked at his transformation but doesn’t express it. She controls herself and informs other family members. Eventually, they get accustomed to him and plan to come out of the financial difficulties. His sister starts working, while the family rents out the small apartment to lodgers to earn and save money. Soon he loses his significance and dies due to neglect.
The young sister of Gregor Samsa is perhaps the only character who has a little understanding when Gregor transforms into an insect. She perhaps understood from the start how her brother has transformed. Her brother’s transformation changes her and her entire family. She takes the responsibility of taking care of Gregor, by understanding his food habits and makes space for him in the room. She also immediately transforms herself to take up the responsibility of the family by caring for her parents and helping them financially. She understands that Gregor is a burden on the family. Out of frustration and pain, she expresses that they must get rid of him to secure the future of the family.
Mr. Samsa is the father of Gregor Samsa and Grete Samsa and husband of Mrs. Samsa. As the head of the family, he faces financial strain and also woes of the old age. He is entirely dependent on his son who used to support them by working as a salesman. When he sees that his son has undergone a bizarre transformation, he starts working seeing no choice. Feeling estranged, he misbehaves, throws apples and kicks his Gregor out of frustration. He thanks God when he hears that Gregor has died, knowing that he has lately become a burden for them. He knows that after the marriage of his daughter, he could live happily with his wife.
Typically performing her motherly role, Mrs. Samsa stays in the background but expresses her emotions when she comes to know about her son’s transformation. Although she loves her son, she does not visit his room. She thinks that this sudden transformation may someday reverse. However, as a mother, she has expressed her worry over this sudden transformation of her son. She becomes pliable when she comes to know that the situation has changed, and her son is no more. She adapts herself to the new circumstances and sees that Grete and her marriage would solve the family problem.
The manager is a secondary character who appears in the novel in the first part. He visits Gregor’s house to check when he fails to report to his duty. He coaxes Gregor to come out and then threatens him of sacking from the job. The Manager wants Gregor to leave his room and start his today’s routine. It is on this occasion that his family sees transformed Gregor as he is forced to open the door of his room. The Manager takes to his heels after seeing Gregor in that form. This shows how corporate entities leave individuals when the situation changes.
The Servant Girl
She is the only servant who stays with the Samsa family after Gregor has transformed into a bug. She is called Anna at one point. She knows that after Gregor’s transformation, the family must change. Therefore, she tells the family that she will stay in the kitchen and come out only when required. When money becomes scarce, the family decides to ask her to leave.
She is a middle-aged lady. She comes to know about the transformation of Gregor after a few days. As soon as she knows this, she leaves her job and the family. Before leaving, she assures the Samsa family that she would not disclose this secret.
The lodgers are three anonymous male characters. The family has rented out a part of the apartment to the lodgers to meet financial expenses. As they move in the home and enjoy life with Grete’s music, Gregor resents. However, one day they spot Gregor, and one of them refuses to pay. Gregor becomes very upset when he sees that they are getting the best food and enjoying, while he is starving in his room. Later, Mr. Samsa expels all of them after Gregor is dead, and the situation seems improving.
The chief, though does not appear personally, is mentioned in the conversation between the Manager and Gregor Samsa. The Manager tells Gregor from behind the door that the Chief is not satisfied with his progress. He informs him that the Chief is thinking of expelling him from the company, as his production has decreased. However, Gregor seeks an apology from the Manager asking him to pay his respects to the chief and that he is coming shortly.