Dealing with Transformation in The Metamorphosis
In The Metamorphosis Gregor Samsa is forced to deal with his transformation from a human being into an insect. After his transformation Gregor is no longer able to do everyday ordinary things. He now has to depend on someone to do these things for him. His younger sister, Grete, makes herself responsible for Gregor. She takes it upon herself to make sure that Gregor is fed and his room is cleaned. This leads to the question; why does she place such a huge responsibility on herself? An optimist like Gregor who only sees the good side of people would say it is because she is a loving and caring person. That her brother’s current condition makes her feel sorry for him and she wants to help him in any way possible. However a pessimist would see an ulterior motive to his sisters’ actions. Since the narrator of the story is Gregor the reader is introduced to Grete through the optimist’s point of view. Gregor portrays Grete as a nurturing and caring person whose actions are solely based on what is best for Gregor. However, what if the narrator was not Gregor but a neutral person who had no prior relationship to Grete? Would Grete’s motives for helping Gregor appear to be purely unselfish? There are many points in the story that the reader is left with the feeling that Grete might have ulterior motives. If the narrator were an impartial character Grete’s intentions would not appear to be so pure.
Grete’s motives from the beginning of the story are questionable. Why does she make herself responsible for Gregor? Gregor believes that she “had perhaps taken on so difficult a task merely out of childish thoughtlessness” (100). However there is another
reason for her helpfulness. Gregor has always been the child that supported the family
financially. He was the son, the sole breadwinner of the family. Before Gregor’s transformation Grete really had no place in the family. Now since Gregor was unable to help the family Grete became important, needed and most of all appreciated. “He often heard them expressing their appreciation of his sister’s activities, whereas formerly they had frequently scolded her for being a somewhat useless daughter”(99). Now Grete’s parents need her for something. Grete by making herself responsible for Gregor gains a certain power over her parents. This however in not presented to the reader clearly because Gregor is unable to grasp the fact that his sister might have ulterior motives.
Another instance that Grete’s motives are a bit unclear is when she decides to move all of his furniture out of his room.
The determination was not of course, merely the outcome of childish recalcitrance and of the self confidence she had recently developed so unexpectedly and at such high costs; she had also perceived that Gregor needed a lot of space to crawl about in, (103).
Gregor believes that Grete is moving the...