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In both Metamorphosis and A Doll's house, the ways the minor characters act and develop are a major theme in the novella and the play. I plan to identify and explore how and why minor characters are used in key scenes of the text. This will involve how minor characters deal with the crisis that they are in Metamorphosis and a Doll's house.
The title of the novella Metamorphosis, written by Franz Kafka, has a very close connection one of the main themes explored by the author. Metamorphosis is another word for change and this theme becomes in the focus of Kafka's attention in the novella. It is about a man named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one day transformed into a vermin. Gregor was the foundation of his families finance and he is rendered unable to work due to his transformation. This means that his family is forced to adapt to their new transformed family member, and I will be exploring the scenes in which this takes place.
There are two main scenes in the novella which best define the moments where sub characters are challenged and put into a difficult situation. One of these is the kitchen table scene. During this scene there is a common change among the family members, they have a new willingness to do things independently. Their bold act of writing "letters of excuse" is a clear example of their new independence, whereas prior to Gregor's death, the family relied completely on Gregor's financial support and had little in terms of responsibilities. Kafka explains this lack of work when he writes, "Gregor's parents had formed the conviction that Gregor was set for life in his firm . . . they were so preoccupied with their immediate troubles that they had lost all consideration for the future," By taking the initiative and writing to their employers, Gregor's family proves that they no longer depend on Gregor.
The scene at the kitchen table proves revealing once again when Gregor's father announces that he will fire the cleaning lady. By doing so, Gregor's father demonstrates that he has changed and can take responsibility. Grete and Gregor's mother also show that they have changed by not contesting Gregor's father's decision to fire the cleaning lady.
The second revealing scene is the scene on the trolley. In this scene, Kafka reveals the family's plans for the future, as well as the significant changes in Grete. He also emphasizes that leaving the apartment together is "something they had not done in months". Again showing the reader that Gregor's family members have become much more independent in comparison to how they were before. Similarly, the family's plan to buy a "smaller and cheaper apartment" further reinforces their new independent nature.
Kafka's remarks pertaining to Grete reveal a different kind of change. During all of the turmoil involving Gregor, Grete matured both physically and mentally. "They grew quieter and half unconsciously exchanged glances of complete agreement, having come to the conclusion that it would soon be time to find a good husband for her", The thoughts that Grete provokes in the minds of her parents reveal their good intentions for the future, as she as also described as having an "Increasing vivacity" and having "bloomed into a pretty girl with a good figure".
The scene at the kitchen table and the scene on the trolley both play important roles in revealing the changes in the Samsa family. The change from being completely dependent on Gregor, and the mental and physical changes made by Grete. All of which were provoked by Gregor's death. By the end of the novella, each member of the family is a different person.
The second text A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen, is a play about a married couple named Torvald and Nora Helmer. Nora tries to repay money she secretly borrowed so her husband Torvald could recuperate from a serious illness and along the way she becomes disappointed and discontented with her arrogant husband and the society in which she is living. I will identify key scenes in which are directly linked to this and explore the use of minor characters within these scenes.
One of the main scenes in A Doll's House involving a minor character is that of Dr. Rank. He enters the Helmer household and hints to Nora that he expects something bad to happen soon. When it becomes apparent that he is referring to his health, Nora is visibly relieved that Dr. Rank is speaking about his own problem and not her one involving debt. Dr. Rank tells her that he will soon die and that he doesn't want his best friend, Torvald, to see him in his sickbed. This part of the scene shows that Dr. Rank suffers from an illness which was passed down to him by his father. Thus, he is suffering because of the actions of others and can not escape events from the past, mirroring the way events in Krogstad's past is inescapable for him, and the way each character in the play suffers in some way because of the actions of another. Dr. Rank's deteriorating health throughout the play also parallels the deteriorating marriage between Torvald and Nora, and his will to go into seclusion while dying to avoid having anyone see him at his worst and weakest corresponds with Torvald's desperation to keep up the appearance of a happy marriage even when he realizes how much Nora's actions have cost him.
After discovering that Dr. Rank is soon to be deceased, Nora begins to interact with him flirtatiously and hints that she has a great favor to ask. Before she is able to ask her favor, however, Dr. Rank confesses his love for her. When he confesses his love for Nora to her, it becomes a means of juxtaposing the way he loves her wholly, for who she is, with the way Torvald loves only her beauty and helplessness. Thus, Dr. Rank is a character foil for Torvald, as he takes care of her emotional needs and Torvald deals with her more physical needs. This also provides a contrast between appearance - Dr. Rank as a close family friend - and reality - Dr. Rank as a secret admirer of Nora - which is a recurring idea in the play. This disclosure disturbs Nora, and afterward she refuses to request anything from him, even though he begs her to let him help. He then inquires to Nora is he should "leave for good" now that he has proclaimed his love for her and she has shot him down. Nora insists that she still wants him to befriend Torvald. She proceeds to inform Dr. Rank of the enjoyable time she has when she's with him, and Dr. Rank explains that he has misinterpreted her fondness towards him. Nora says that those whose company she prefers are often different than those she loves- she refers to this earlier in the play when she mentions that when she was young, she loved her father but preferred to hide with the maids in the cellar because they didn't try to dictate her behavior.
Another key scene in the play A Doll's House, involving minor character is in Act 3 when Mrs. Linde is in the Helmers' house and Krogstad appears, having received a note from Mrs. Linde asking her to meet him. Nora had asked Mrs. Linde to convince Krogstad not to send Torvald the letter exploiting her fraud. Mrs. Linde informs Krogstad that they have "a great deal to talk about," and it becomes apparent that Mrs. Linde once had romantic relations with Krogstad but broke them off in order to marry Mr. Linde, who had more money. Mrs. Linde says that she felt the marriage was necessary for the sake of her brothers and mother but regrets having ignored her heart, which told her to stay with Krogstad. She tells Krogstad that she wants to get back together with him, to take care of him and his children. Krogstad is overjoyed. The relationship between Krogstad and Mrs. Linde illustrates how forgiveness can heal relationships and bring people together. Krogstad and Mrs. Linde had a relationship many years before, but Mrs. Linde married someone that would financially support her mother and brothers. She did what she had to do for her family's sake, and years later, Krogstad was able to forgive her and move past the pain to go forward in their relationship.
This is a direct contrast to Nora and Torvald. Nora lied and forged for the good of her family, but Torvald is unable to forgive her and Nora realizes that her marriage cannot be healed.
Mrs. Linde then realizes that Torvald and Nora will soon return. She tells Krogstad that his letter is in Torvald's letterbox, and that he must retrieve it for her. This causes Krogstad to momentarily question Mrs. Linde's true motives, as he begins to think that perhaps she has promised herself to him only to save Nora. Mrs. Linde calms Krogstad, saying "when you've sold yourself once for someone else, you never do it again." She even tells him that although she originally hoped to persuade him to ask for his letter back, after observing the Helmer household, she feels that Torvald must discover the truth about Nora. It is now that Mrs. Linde's role in the play becomes pivotal. After inspiring Krogstad to amend his wicked ways, she abruptly insists that, "Helmer must know everything. This unhappy secret must come out!" Even though she has the power to change Krogstad's mind, she uses her influence to make certain that Nora's secret is discovered, leaving the reader to decide her intentions behind this act.
Despite some of the perfunctory qualities of Mrs. Linde, she in fact provides a striking thematic difference to the rest of the play. A dolls house is viewed as an attack on the traditional institution of marriage. However, Mrs. Linde is greatly pleased with her newly revived love and contentedly rejoices the return to domesticity "Mrs. Linde: (Tidies the room a little and gets her hat and coat ready.) How things change! How things change! Somebody to work forâ€¦ to live for. A home to bring happiness into. Just let me get down to it." In the end, the character of Mrs. Linde balances Nora's impulsive and ultimately independent character.