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The Relationship Between Gregor and Grete in The Metamorphosis

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The Metamorphosis is a novel written by Franz Kafka and was published in 1915. The novel tells a story of a family that struggles with insect transformation of the main character and the breadwinner of the family Gregor Samsa. While the book has different themes, the metamorphosis of Grete Samsa is probably the principal theme. The relationship between Gregor and Grete changes the course of the story. Once a caring and close friendship of brother and sister, the connection keeps fading, and the family matters get worse as the account of the metamorphized appearance of Gregor.

Initially, after Gregor’s transformation, Samsa’s seems to be the only one who cares for him, and she seems the only one who understands his needs. When she realizes that Gregor has not taken his milk, she reacts in a quite caring way, as the author asserts, “to discover what he likes and dislikes, she presented him with different things, all laid out in an old newspaper: old, half-rotten vegetables; leftover bones from the evening meal, covered with white source… which two days prior Gregor had thought inedible […]” (p. 290). At this stage, she is a loving sister who cares about his brother and wants him to eat well even in his state. She tries anything in her ability to understand what will satisfy his brother in his new metamorphized form. Gregor is so grateful that his eyes swell with tears out of satisfaction. Before the metamorphosis, Gregor is not used to be treated so nicely, and Grete is doing her best to change from a once-idle sister to a caring one to his suffering brother.

Besides becoming the self-chosen nurse to his brother Gregor, it is apparent that Grete has also become the family spokesperson, a role that was Gregor’s before the metamorphosis. This is after their mother has become afraid of her son, while Samsa, their father, has turned violent towards him. After attending Gregor at the end of the day, she had to describe the room, what Gregor had taken for supper, his behavior at that particular moment, and if there were signs of improvements towards recovering (p. 294). Grete has become the only intermediary between Gregor and their parents. Gregor is quite intrigued by the charitable behavior of her sister, which makes him feel comfortable as an insect and gives him hope that everything will return to normal with time. Further, to accommodate Gregor’s new desires, Grete feels that it would be appropriate to remove the furniture in his house to create more space for his crawling. After convincing his mother that this is an appropriate action, they resolve to remove the furniture while Samsa is away with the fear that he might disapprove or violently stop them. Although Grete’s intention of removing the furniture was good, the plan ends up becoming ugly when Gregor tries to stop them from undertaking the operation. This act shocks their mother and provokes his father to attack and hurt him. This marks a beginning of a strenuous relationship between Gregor and Grete, and perhaps of a new transformation for her.

Eventually, it becomes apparent that Grete has grown tired of taking care of his insect brother. He becomes less sensitive when doing anything in Gregor’s “den,” as they have named it. She seems to have forgotten that the insect is still his brother and has human feelings and desires. In one instance, Grete is seen violently tearing the window to let fresh air in the dank and musty room. The tolerance she had for his brother seems to fade away with time. For instance, when she comes earlier than usual in one of the occasions and finds Gregor looking outside the window, motionless and terrified, she does not enter the room, but she jumps out and shuts the door behind her. She has completely become inconsiderate of his brother’s feelings; she has made it clear to him that she is no longer comfortable with his insect appearance. However, Gregor who is selfless and human despite his metamorphosis into an insect strives to save his sister from having to set eyes on him. He takes a tiring four hour of wrapping a sheet over the couch he hides under thus ensuring that no one will have to see him. The first word Grete utters, “You Gregor” is demeaning and full of distaste with a raised fist after their mother faints after seeing her son. After what happens that night, the family further distances itself from Gregor and becomes more morose and distracted to care for him.

Before Gregor’s transformation, he is the only member of the family who is working and providing for the family. However, after the tragedy, everyone has to do something to ensure the livelihood of a family, this including his sister. Grete Samsa’s decision to take care of his brother was partly to erase the mentality of their parents that she is useless, not good at what she has been trained for (violin), and a timid girl who is afraid of going outside. However, she has to get a job to take Gregor’s place as the caretaker of a family. She gets the job at the store, which often leaves her exhausted and little time for caring for his brother. The family had to get further borders to help salvage the financial difficulties. This made Gregor’s room a storeroom, as the author asserts it, “everything that was not in use at that moment was thrown in his room…” Ultimately, Grete comes to consider his brother a burden which has to be done away with. She convinces her parents that things have to change, and they have to do away with Gregor, who she now sees as a monster (p. 306).

Gregor has become angered by the way his sister is treating her and leaving the room unattended. Highly offensive of his sister’s demeanor, Gregor would stand particularly offensive place when his sister came in as if ready to rebuke her. He has also experienced the change that he becomes hostile towards her younger sister, who now it is apparent that she has stopped regarding him a brother but a daily routine. When the borders come, Grete becomes more occupied with helping her parents with other duties and entertaining the guests. In essence, the family seems to have forgotten about Gregor by now. His room is filled with junk and useless stuff, and Gregor has to lie amidst them helplessly. His true transformation into a horrifying insect is almost done. One night, after the family and the borders, have finished their dinner, he hears her sister play violin. He decides to get outside his room to listen to the violin more clearly, surprised that he had stopped to show concern for others, which before metamorphosis this concern for other was his strength.

As he craws towards the living room, Gregor gets disillusions of conciliating with his sister and having her in his place to play the violin for him. He envisages telling her sister that he is taking her to music school and that she would burst into tears of joy, and Gregor would raise himself and lovingly kiss his neck (p. 305). Deep inside, there resides hope in Gregor that he can set things right with his sister and restore the relationship he had with his sister and thus, his family. While in this fantasy condition, one of the boarders spot him and become offended by him and declares that they won’t stay any longer nor will they pay for the boarding together with his other two partners. It is after this incident that it becomes crystal clear that Grete no longer wants Gregor alive. She cries to her parents that she is ashamed of mentioning his brother’s name in the sight of the monster. Gregor is no longer seen as a human being but as a thing. Furiously, Grete claims that “if this were my brother, he would have known that human beings cannot live with such a creature, and he would have gone by his free will” (p. 307). This prompts Gregor to consider doing away with his life, and it is Grete who turns the lock of his room leaving him to die. In his final moments, Gregor reflects on his family with love and tenderness. He was deeply convinced, even beyond his sister’s conviction, that he had to leave (p. 308). He comes to peace with his sister’s behavior and dies within the early hours of the morning. Therefore, although Gregor has metamorphized into a “less human” creature, his personality and humanity remained intact.

In the end, while Gregor has been subjected to and fatally suffered transformation, the family now has the liberty to prosper and have a hopeful future for Grete. The parents realize that Grete also had blossomed into a beautiful daughter that they even consider getting a husband for him (p. 310). Grete undergoes metamorphosis as she develops from childhood into an adult. She grows from a “useless” and timid girl to a responsible girl who cares for his brother as well as provides for his family. However, in the course of added responsibilities, his personality also changes. A once caring has grown into a heartless and cold sister who vigorously argues of doing away with Gregor, who she thinks has become a burden. Although she has discovered liberty, it has cost her warmth and love for his brother. Ironically, her parents believe that this is a positive transformation and she has become a woman ready for marriage. On the other side, while Gregor has undergone a physical change, his personality remains intact. Gregor always loved his family and hoped for a bright future of it- and especially Grete. However, the family that he worked so hard for ultimately caused his death by locking him away. Gregor had hoped of giving Grete a bright future and make sure she was successful in her endeavors, but when he needed her support, she neglected him. Although Grete’s demeanor behavior had caused Gregor’s death, he died peacefully and with unconditional affection for his sister.

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The Relationship between Gregor and Grete in The Metamorphosis. (2018, October 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from
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