Mae, the protagonist of The Circle who quickly becomes an integral member of the company, undoubtedly experiences the most visible growth throughout her time working as an employee at the circle: she loses her true identity with the outside world and instead becomes a transparent, superficial woman and the new face of this horrible, degrading company.
After being introduced by Annie, a close friend she met during college, Mae Holland began as a newbie at the circle. Being (supposedly) “the most influential company in the world” (Eggars 1), this company was surely a highly-desired company to be employed for, so for Mae to have her position practically handed to her was quite an ‘accomplishment.’ However, despite its fame, this company brain-washes Mae into a machine-like, impersonal robot who can no longer have private and personal conversations, causing her to neglect the relationships in her outside world.
One of the first instances of Mae’s transparency is when she begins to lose contact with her close friends and family. After her incident with the kayaks and the police, Mae wears a camera at all times to ensure that all meetings, conversations, and interactions are recorded and “completely scannable by anyone watching” (310). While seemingly connecting Mae to everything physically around her, this camera disconnects her from the ability to have any type of privacy, and consequently, lose her ability to prolong her deep relationships. In doing so, Mae begins to act superficial (as to not reveal anything she wouldn’t want revealed, ie: her intimate behaviors with Francis) in a way that is completely different to her pre-popularity in the circle. Shortly after finding out that “where a grid of sixteen images should have been visible, twelve were blank” (361) (her parents had covered up the ‘SeeChange’ cameras) instead of empathizing with their emotions (that the Circle has gone too far and is incessantly invading their privacy) she promises Dr. Villalobos that she will fix the situation. By saying she will ‘fix’ this situation, she is most likely implying that she will convince them to keep the cameras public rather than reevaluating how her job has changed her for the worse.
Not only is she losing the relationship with her parents, but also with Mercer as she disregards his advice to “cease contact… unless privately” (374) because she is so engrossed keeping her popularity in the company. Even after Mercer tries distancing himself, she uses The Circle’s power to track him down – exemplifying how she values the Circle more than her close relationships with friends. Mae’s obsession with this company later causes the downfall in her relationship with Annie – she no longer pays attention to Annie’s emotions as she continues “cursing Annie, cursing every blond inch of her” (368) solely due to their tensions regarding the competition between the two to have a higher rank and superiority in the company.
Evidently, Mae went from being a timid, newbie employee to the superior face of the company who embodies all the horrid mantras. The transparency of the Circle is primarily responsible for Mae’s change in personality; she doesn’t realize how superficial she is around both herself and her family. Instead, she is consumed in being the face of the Circle Ambassador and hurts herself and her loved ones.