The Metamorphosis

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Charwoman Character Analysis

A few months after Gregor's transformation, his family hires the Charwoman to replace the servant girl and the cook. She is large, white-haired, and crude. Of all the characters, she is the least disgusted and frightened by Gregor, though she is not particularly nice either. She likes to look in on him and make fun of him.

Charwoman Quotes in The Metamorphosis

The The Metamorphosis quotes below are all either spoken by Charwoman or refer to Charwoman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Schocken Books edition of The Metamorphosis published in 1995.
Section 3 Quotes

Instead of being allowed to disturb him so senselessly whenever the whim took her, she should rather have been ordered to clean out his room daily, that charwoman!

Related Characters: Gregor Samsa, Charwoman
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

The charwoman has taking to poking her head into Gregor's room and laughing at him every so often, calling him names and bothering him. He never knows when exactly the charwoman will enter, so he always has to be prepared to deal with her intrusions. Here Gregor seems to consider himself once again the head of the family, responsible for the others and capable of deciding what should and should not take place within the household. Now, of course, his insistence contrasts deeply with the actual state of vulnerability in which he finds himself.

The charwoman's constant intrusions, in addition, create a notable contrast to the way the family treats Gregor. She has no memory of Gregor as a human: to her he is just a huge bug, a nuisance, to be sure, but nothing to be afraid of. Her casual attitude suggests that she is less bothered by such a "repulsive" creature than the family, which is striving towards the middle class and the stability and propriety that comes with it. But her attitude also reminds us that the true mystery and difficulty of the family's situation is not that they have to deal with a large insect, but that they have witnessed a senseless transformation and cannot find a way to resolve the inevitable problems of selfhood and responsibility that arise.


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Charwoman Character Timeline in The Metamorphosis

The timeline below shows where the character Charwoman appears in The Metamorphosis. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 3
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...some income, and soon they replace their servant girl with an older and less expensive charwoman. (full context)
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
The charwoman finds Gregor one day and is neither disgusted nor frightened by him. In fact, she... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
The charwoman comes the following morning and thinks Gregor is trying to trick her. She pokes him... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
The lodgers come out confused that there's no breakfast available, but the charwoman shows them to Gregor's room. The Samsa family tearfully emerges, and the father orders the... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...and father all write to their bosses to take work off for the day. The charwoman leaves, excitedly mentioning that the family doesn't need to worry about disposing of the carcass,... (full context)