Round and Flat Characters

In fiction, there are characters are designated as round characters, and those are depicted as flat characters. The round characters demonstrate aspects which are diverse and contradictory. The flat characters demonstrate one or two personality characteristics. The difference between the two is an evident transformation the character undergoes throughout the course of the story. They are described by the course of their development. In the novella which is titled: The Metamorphosis there is a deep contrast in character dynamics as far as depth is concerned. The distinctions between the round and flat characters is reviewed in this essay.

The round characters experience changes in the course of the novel. The flat characters and the stock characters do not experience change. The change can be perceived as the changes in perception and personality traits which are experienced by the protagonist as the story is narrated. In Franz Kafka's novel which is titled: The Metamorphosis, the story of Gregor Samsa and his family is narrated. Kafka’s novel reaches a climax in narration be describing the day that Gregor emerged as a giant insect and the sensations which were perceived. It’s dreamlike, neutral tone sets a perfect stage for an array of characters that lack the aforementioned transformative qualities. The protagonist of the novel Gregor can be classified as a round character. From the day he wakes up as a bug, until the day he dies alone in his bedroom, he continuously questioned his circumstances. Gregor has complexity. In contrast, his father is a completely flat character. He is violent and uncompassionate throughout the whole story. The characters that Franz Kafka portrays as having the aspect of being completely round are Gregor and his sister, Grete.

Prior to experiencing his metamorphosis, Gregor is proud to be the family benefactor. He endeavors with substantial earnestness at his duties as an ambulant vendor. He does this in order to provide for his mother and father, who have incurred liabilities as a result of a failed enterprise. Gregor aspires to be able to finance his sister’s violin practice. Grete character is introduced as the young concerned sister, crying outside of Gregor’s bedroom door. Young and impressionable, she waits helplessly for him to mutter any sort of response.

Grete is the only other character which is called by name besides Gregor, as well as the only character that shows compassion for his situation. She grows to become Gregor’s primary caretaker. She feeds him and provides him with his only human positive interaction. Grete suggested the idea that they remove the furniture in his room so that he has more room to crawl. This is an idea that is demonstrated Gregor resents as his self judgment by his vanquished human manifestation. As the story progresses and as Grete quickly grows into an adult, the pity that once drove her to care for her brother slowly diminishes. She sees it as more of a job than her god given duty. Grete eventually gets a job and becomes the primary financial factor in the family. It is safe to say that Grete has grown up and no longer willing to assume the position of Gregor’s primary caregiver.

The contrast in round, and flat characters, seem to give the story a weird dreamlike tone. From the very start when Gregor wakes up to find himself as a giant insect, the reader should be able to anticipate what will happen next. Despite the extremely flat nature of the father and the mother characters, Grete is one character that truly stands out from the rest. She grows throughout the course of the novel, starting as a younger, concerned sister, to a mature, providing adult. Grete’s growth as a character makes Gregor’s situation that much more depressing in nature—as if he were a spectator. The dimension of the characters helps the story progress as well as serving as standards for other characters in the story.

The aspect which gives Gregor’s character a round aspect in the novel is the reconciliation of his perceptions with his new physical condition as a beetle. Gregor’s perceptions are still human, although he is trapped in the body of a beetle. Gregor’s physical characteristics begin to dominate his perceptions and he encounters that he is most comfortable in the type of environment that a beetle would find attractive. Gregor seeks sanctuary under a couch. He finds that he enjoys exploring the obscured places, ceilings and the walls in a similar manner that a beetle would enjoy the environment.

Grete Samsa is the only other round character in the story. Greta demonstrates the quality of pity for Gregor’s new condition. Great assumes the role of Gregor’s benefactor; she is the only individual in the story who has an assertive contact with Gregor. Kafka adds a human aspect to Grete in addressing her by her first name throughout the story.

As Gregor is going through a metamorphosis, Grete goes through a metamorphosis as well. Grete transforms from being Gregor’s sister who was perceived as a young girl into a humane character who becomes possessive of her responsibility of taking care of Gregor. As Grete assumes the role of the family provider which Gregor is unable to perform, she concludes that Gregor is a burden. This is a complete circular transformation which Greta Samsa undergoes. These changes in perception and characteristics are the reason why Grete is perceived as a round character

Gregor’s father is one of the flat characters in the story. The novel depicts Mr. Samsa as an uncaring and callous individual whose primary interests revolve around financial opportunities. Mr. Samsa is depicted as being detached from his son, Gregor. This aspect does not change throughout the story. The father, as Gregor refers to has not been successful in his commercial endeavors. This lack of success causes the father to lose efficacy and to become discouraged.

This is the causal attribute which is the foundation of Greg or’s desire to work. Gregor feels that he must assume the responsibility which his father was unable to perform. Notwithstanding Gregor’s desire to assist the family and become the family provider, Gregor’s father appears to have no emotional concern with regards to Gregor’s metamorphosis. In the instance that Gregor goes through the metamorphosis from a human to a beetle, Mr. Samsa demonstrates concerns for the financial interests of the family. His interactions toward Gregor are very antagonistic. This aspect remains constant throughout the novel.

The antagonism is demonstrated by Mr. Samsa when he repels Gregor from his presence and causes Gregor to regress into his room. This aspect is a metaphor for the author’s alienated relationship with his father. Gregor feels as if his father’s lack of success has caused him to become confined in his role of having to provide for the family and the despair which he experiences when he discovers that he can no longer accomplish that responsibility in the body of a beetle. Gregor does not demonstrate the attachment toward his father as he does toward Grete and his mother.

As the father is continuously addressed by his formal name and does not experience any change from his previous condition, it could be detailed that Mr. Samsa fulfills the criteria of being a flat character. Mr. Samsa is consistent in his characteristics. The flat characters are delineated by the aspect that as Gregor is experiencing a metamorphosis, they remain consistent in their aspect from beginning to end. The primary change which Mr. Samsa experiences is the aspect of his uniform. In the beginning of the story, the uniform that the father wears in order to perform his employment responsibilities is described as having a refined appearance. The circumstances of residing with Gregor cause the father’s uniform to become deteriorated in its appearance.

Mrs. Samsa views Gregor exploring a wall and this causes her to fall into unconsciousness. Mr. Samsa perceives that Gregor attempted to harm Mrs. Samsa and chases him. Finally, Mr. Samsa hits Gregor with an apple. The apple causes mortal injury to Gregor’s dorsal aspect. Mrs. Samsa is another character who is one of the flat characters in the novel. Her aspect of helplessness is unchanging in the plot. Mrs. Samsa initially begs the office administrator not to relieve Gregor of this responsibility.

As Gregor experiences his metamorphosis, the mother becomes unconscious as the father begins weeping. Mrs. Samsa appears to be a reflection of Mr. Samsa, Mr. Samsa has become unable to work and Mrs. Samsa becomes afflicted with asthma. The mother and Greta remove the furnishings from the room. They feel as if they are doing an injustice to Gregor, particularly in removing the picture of a lady who appears to be opulent and adorned in fur. This could be the primary remnant of human existence that Gregor does not wish to part with. Mrs. Samsa demonstrates that she has a flat unchanging aspect in the novel. The changes that Mrs. Samsa experience are manifest in her assuming the role of contributing to the well being of the family by receiving employment and renting a room to new tenants. The new tenants demonstrate that gregor is unwelcome in his present state by declaring that if the beetles are not eradicated from the habitation, they will not pay their monthly rental fee.


The distinction of the round and flat aspect of the characters in the novel titled: The Metamorphosis which is written by Franz Kafka is that the characters of Gregor and Grete demonstrate varied and contradictor traits. These traits are manifest by Gregor as he transforms from being the vital and aspiring providers who nurtures the family to being the helpless and aspiring dependent who is nurtured by the family and in the end, neglected by the family. The father and the mother do not demonstrate a variety of characteristics. They are basically flat characters. Gregor’s sister, Grete is transformed from being the nurtured to the nurturer. She transforms from the aspect of an idealistic young girl to a realistic young woman. These round and flat character aspects are demonstrated in the novel which is titled: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

Essay writing help

college essay help

We have built the ultimate resource for high school and college essay writing. Our manuals will help you write:

  • Narrative essays
  • Descriptive essays
  • Expository essays
  • Informative essays
  • Persuasive essays

College writing guides

college writing help

For college or university student, we have built an immense amount of tips for these written assignments:

  • Reaction/Response papers
  • Position papers
  • Reports
  • Research papers
  • Bibliographies