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Free Study Guide-The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka-Online Book Summary
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The Metamorphosis is set in a small working-class neighborhood in the early 1900's. The events take place entirely in the Samsa home where Gregor lives with his teenage sister Grete, his timid mother, and his surly and resentful father. With the exception of three scenes where Gregor escapes to the hallway, every other moment takes place in his bedroom until his death. The final scenes of the story take place on a train bound for the countryside, after Gregor is dead.

LIST OF CHARACTERS

Major Characters

Gregor Samsa

A traveling salesman who wakes up one morning and discovers he has turned into a bug.

Mr. Samsa

Gregor's father, who is a tired old man. He depends on his son to support the family, but is resentful and suspicious of Gregor. He eventually delivers his son's fatal wound.

Mrs. Samsa

Gregor's mother. She is a soft-spoken woman who is concerned about her son. She is never able to come to terms with Gregor's transformation and harbors a hope that he will return to his normal state. Twice she makes a weak gesture to show her love for Gregor: she stops his father from throwing more apples, and she reaches for the cleaning lady's broom as if to keep her from sweeping Gregor's body away.


Grete Samsa

Gregor's sister. She is close to her brother and fearlessly takes up the abhorrent task of caring for him. At the same time, her dislike of his new state seems to destroy Gregor the most. When he hears her declare her wish that he go away, he hides in his room and dies, as if her hatred is too much for him to live with.

Minor Characters

The Chief Clerk

A mean-spirited, suspicious man who suggests that Gregor is missing work because he has stolen from the company.

The three lodgers

Temporary residents in the Samsa household. Arrogant and insensitive, they are driven away by Gregor's father after Gregor's death.

The cleaning lady

A maid in the Samsa household. She comes into Gregor's room only to poke fun at him and pile more trash around him. In the end, she sweeps his body into the trash.

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