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Throughout history, women have traditionally been perceived as fragile caretakers who belong in the house, as opposed to men who dominate the household and provide income. However, these conventional beliefs have since then been disproved and continue to be today. Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis presents the significance of the female character through his underlying feminist criticisms. He originally sets the story within a patriarchal capitalist society, in which all genders conform to their acceptable roles. Gregor Samsa is at first depicted as the hardworking provider of his family, while his sister, Grete, is seen as naive and useless. When Gregor suddenly turns into a bug, Grete gets the opportunity to assert her dominance in the household. This allows her to undergo her metamorphosis from a young girl to a woman. As Grete transforms at Gregor’s expense, Kafka exchanges traditional gender roles and blurs the lines between masculine and feminine standards.

As the story unfolds, the author breaks social barriers, creating an interchange of male and female roles. After Gregor turns into a bug, the roles of man and woman essentially switch between him and Grete. She feels an ever-growing sense of power and “unexpected confidence she had recently acquired,” and “perhaps this [is] what [tempts] Grete to make Gregor’s situation seem even more shocking than it was so she could do even more for him.” Grete becomes overly possessive in her job of taking care of Gregor– or just possessive in having control and authority for once–to the extent of dramatizing the issue just so she can prolong her work. There suddenly becomes a transfer of traditional power from male to female, showing how Kafka destroys gender roles. Another example would be how “[Grete] hardly [turns] her back before Gregor [comes] out again from under the couch and [stretches] himself. This [is] how Gregor [receives] his food each day.” Gregor ultimately lives in accordance with Grete and has to put aside his masculine prerogatives. He hides under the couch when Grete enters the room, and only eats what she gives him. He even makes sure to distance himself from his family. This indicates a clear transition of Gregor’s once masculine and active figure to a now more feminine and passive one, and for Grete vice versa. Gregor is essentially put to shame because a woman has to take care of him, yet the same thing that puts him to shame becomes what empowers and validates Grete as a female.

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Furthermore, as Grete thrives as a woman, Gregor deteriorates as a man. She tells the family that “It’s got to go,” all the while “blossoming into a well-built and beautiful young lady.” She acknowledges her newfound chance of a better future– yet it is one without Gregor. One could note how the parallelism in the names “Gregor” and “Grete,” there illustrates the parallelism of Gregor’s regression and Grete’s liberation. She no longer needs him. She obtains a new job and envisions a future in which she is in control. Grete substantially dehumanizes her brother for her benefit and in a sense, symbolizes her metamorphosis. In addition, when Grete begins to move around Gregor’s furniture, “Gregor could see what Grete had in mind” “sat unyielding on his picture” and “would rather jump at Grete’s face.” Gregor’s picture of the woman in furs represents the sexual objectification of women. Grete’s longing to get rid of this embodies her rebellion against societal views of women at that time.

Similar to a balance scale, Grete rises while Gregor collapses. In the end, this balance of powers meets equilibrium.

Grete utilizes her brother’s disability as a stepping stone toward her new life as a successful woman. She takes it as an opportunity for validation. She rebels against conventional beliefs on what a woman should or should not do. She undergoes her metamorphosis.   

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The Metamorphosis’ Argumentative Essay.
(2024, April 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from

“The Metamorphosis’ Argumentative Essay.” Edubirdie, 18 Apr. 2024,

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