The Doubling of Characters

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In the short story; Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the main character, Gregor Samsa experiences a tremendous transformation which brings a total change from his original human nature. He woke up one day only to find that he had undergone metamorphosis and was now an insect with his face only remaining. He was no longer a human being and was now a dung-beetle. This change brought with it many challenges in the life of Gregor and his family. Additionally, in the play; The Good Person of Szechwan several characters have a broad variety of variables that emanate in their character traits. One such character is Shen Teh who is a lady that was perceived to be evil as she was known to be a prostitute but on the other hand she has a kind heart and helps many people who come across in her life. These and other examples that will be discussed in this essay are instances of doubling of the protagonists in the two pieces of literature which portray their character traits and will be analyzed in this essay.

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Metamorphosis is a story about a young salesman which the author reflects upon the life of Gregor that includes his family members: parents, sister and housemaid. The story begins with Gregor waking up after a deep sleep at his home. Gregor was a travelling salesman who had recently returned home from a business trip. Surprisingly when Gregor could not stand from his bed and he realized that his body had changed. After struggling for a long time and being able to stand he can clearly see and feel that he had the body of an insect as he had undergone metamorphosis in his sleep. Gregor was late for work and he had missed to catch his train for work. From his reputation in his workplace, he had never failed to report to work for the past 15 years in his company. As such, failing to report to work that morning prompted his boss to send his chief clerk to check up on Gregor at his home.

Gregor was astonished by this visit by the chief clerk and he wondered why he was not yet trusted by his boss even though he had never absconded his duties before. The clerk first asked him why he had failed to report to work then went ahead to accuse him of incompetency and issued threats of losing his job. To respond to this Gregor said "I'll get dressed straight away now, pack up my samples and set off. Will you please just let me leave? You can see", he said to the chief clerk, "that I'm not stubborn and I like to do my job; being a commercial traveler is arduous but without travelling I couldn't earn my living. So where are you going, in to the office? Yes? Will you report everything accurately, then? (Franz, 2012, pg. 9). This statements show that Gregor indeed cared about his job and he was dedicated to perform his duties regardless of the tragedy that had befallen on him. Nevertheless, the clerk did not listen to his explanation and he left once he saw his condition.

This condition of Gregor continued to change as he transformed into an insect completely. Even his voice started to change to that of an insect and he could no longer communicate in the human language. He started eating food that was edible by insects and even started crawling on the walls and ceiling of their house. All this time, it was his sister Grete who took care of him by feeding him and even washing his room. Gregor had initially worked hard to provide for his family and he had managed to pay their rent and he even planned to take his sister to a violin school. This shows how hardworking and generous he was but after the transformation everything changed. He was no longer going to work rather he stayed at home all day as he could not leave the house in his condition. He was no longer providing the daily livelihood in his home as before but instead he now stayed in his room all day waiting to be fed and the rent was now payed by his family members.

There was a complete turn of events as the once industrious Gregor was turning to be a burden to his family. Even his human nature and feelings were starting to fade away as the metamorphosis progressed. One day his mother and his sister were moving furniture from his room in order to create more space for him to crawl in. However due to his animalistic instincts he felt that they were taking away what was dear to him and he reacted by jumping on the wall to protect a portrait like an animal would do. He also felt that he would rather jump at Grete's face in order to protect his picture and when the mother and sister got back in the room and found him on the wall, his mother immediately fainted out of shock. This instance shows how Gregor had changed and he no longer had compassion or was unreasonable to his family members who were once very dear to him.

In the play, we are introduced to a water-seller, Wang who was approached by three gods who were in a mission and wanted a place to spend the night. After tremendous effort to try to secure a house for the gods from the people of Szechwan, Wang was only left with one option from a lady called Shen Teh. All the other people in Szechwan that he had asked for them to accommodate the gods in their homes had refused and only Shen had agreed. Even though the reputation of Shen was tainted as she was known to earn her living as a prostitute, the gods had to spend their night at her house. This shows that she was indeed a generous person who was more considerate than the all the other people who refused to assist Wang. The gods eventually rewarded her for kindness and she was able to open a tobacco shop.

In another instance, Shen used to give rice to Mrs. Shin freely when she was broke. She also provided accommodation to a couple in her shop who were previously her landlords. This was regardless to what the couple had previously done to her by throwing her out of their house when she lacked rent. When they approached her for help she said to them in a friendly voice welcome to you, I will gladly give you my lodging, but all I have is a tiny room at the back of the shop (Bertolt, 1995, pg. 8). This act shows that Shen was also forgiving and kind.

In conclusion, the characters from the two works of literature particularly Gregor and Shen portray doubling in their character traits. Gregor had changed from a hardworking generous young man into dependent and inhuman person. On the other hand, Shen who was portrayed as a con woman and disgrace in society ended up helping people and even hosting the gods in her home which showed how kind and humane she was.

Works Cited

Franz Kafka, The Project Gutenberg EBook of Metamorphosis, (2012) Print.

Bertolt Brecht, The Good Person Of Szechwan, London. (1995) Print.

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