The Metamorphosis: Love Quotes

Instructor: Catherine Smith

Catherine has taught History, Literature, and Latin at the university level and holds a PhD in Education.

Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' is the story of Gregor, who must deal with the shifting dynamics within his family after he has turned into a giant insect. This lesson looks at and analyzes quotes about love in the 'Metamorphosis'.

Setting the Scene

Kafka's Metamorphosis tells the story of Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one morning to discover that he has transformed into a large insect. The book focuses on the way that this dramatic transformation affects not only Gregor himself but also his family. They had previously relied on him as the primary bread-winner of the household. Despite the love that Gregor's mother and sister must have felt for him when he was in his human form - or perhaps because of it - both women find it difficult to cope with the new reality of Gregor as a massive insect. Gregor's sister tries for a time, but even she eventually becomes exhausted and runs out of sympathy for Gregor and his condition.

Franz Kafka, 1923

Gregor's Sister, Grete

Grete, Gregor's younger sister, tries at first to care for her older brother after his transformation. Both her parents are too frightened of Gregor to do anything for him, but Grete takes pains to figure out how to feed him and clean up after him:

''In order to test his taste, she brought him a whole selection of things... Then, out of consideration for Gregor's feelings, as she knew that he would not eat in front of her, she hurried out again and even turned the key in the lock so that Gregor would know he could make things as comfortable for himself as he liked.''

While this quote does not explicitly mention the love the Grete feels for Gregor, this is one of the scenes where we can certainly see signs of it. Although Gregor's mother cannot bear to interact with him at all, Grete not only feeds him, but considers how he must feel about his condition and the effect that it has on his family. Her love for Gregor wanes over time as she grows more and more exhausted of taking care of him, but this is a moment when it is still strong.

Grete's Love Fades

Towards the end of the book, Grete loses patience with caring for Gregor and all the discomfort that the situation brings for everyone. At one point, she breaks down and shouts to her father that Gregor must leave their home, arguing:

''How can that be Gregor? If it were Gregor he would have seen long ago that it's not possible for human beings to live with an animal like that and he would have gone of his own free will. We wouldn't have a brother any more, then, but we could carry on with our lives and remember him with respect.''

This is clearly a very different Grete from the one we saw at the beginning of the book. Understandably, she has slowly lost her patience and her love for her brother, since he is no longer recognizable as such. In fact, she argues that if this monster were her brother, his love for his family would have compelled him to move out on his own. Of course, this is not true -- Gregor continues to love his family, and is merely incapable of moving elsewhere. On some level, Grete might understand this, but she is exhausted and run out of patience.

Gregor's Death

Soon after the previous scene, Gregor retreats to his room for what will turn out to be his final night:

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