The Metamorphosis, by Kafka, explored the need for change in society. Kafka saw a wrong in society as a whole and wanted to make his opinion known. He believed it was wrong to be dedicated to ones job over ones family. The critics and their articles, Honigs Dark Conceit and Richters Franz Kafka-Werk and Entwurf, delved into that controversial view of Kafkas work. The relationship to his family, his guilt, his job, and society exposes the troubled life of Gregor and the misdirection of the society that Kafka saw in his day.
Family, now that is hard to say when talking about this book. The family was related by blood alone. Richter does not confront this issue in his article though he should have. I agree with Honigs statement: he becomes to his family and himself as he lies in bed: simply a huge, detestable insect(Honig 139).The way I see it, if they were a true family they would have stayed with Gregor even in his bad times. They shun him, however, as they see him only as a pest. The last to love him, his sister, said: It has to go, its the only answer, father(Kafka 52). Her statement shows that she no longer sees him as her brother but a thing to be dealt with like the garbage she had been feeding him.
I believe, as does Richter and Honig, that Gregors transformation into the vermin was an enlightening experience for Gregor that brought about his final peace, death(Richter 192, Honig 139).Through his self-punishment and enlightenment he saw the true position of his life, nobody and unwanted. This was shown in the story with the neglect that he received, until his starvation(Kafka 52-54). Honig, Richter, and I saw the transformation as a way to allow Gregor to step back from his existence in society and the family and take a spectators view. That view showed him how his life was nothing but his own alientation and unfulfilled wants(Honig 139). Richter also went into the fact that Gregor had little of what he wanted. Richter states that his job made him inhuman through too much work(Richter192). Gregors working for the good of his family and not for himself is tackled when Richter said: Let a man want the best for his family and devote himself completely to his livelihood, and it can happen that as a result the life of the family itself is destroyed, because the human element must withdraw(Richter 192). Richter means that to truly be a member of a family one must dedicate equal time to both work and family.
In the back of Gregors mind, I believe, he knew that he was working too hard and that he himself was neglecting his family duties at home. He hinted at that when he said: constantly seeing new faces, no relationships that last or get more intimate(Kafka 4). He knew that but could not stop his spiral down into the pit of his own guilt. At the end of the pit he found his transformation. His transformation was physically representative of the way his guilt made him feel, as Honig said: The darkness out of which Gregor emerges transformed is on one level the darkness of a former life, a guilty sleep(139). His former life totally alone by choice is turned into a life of loneliness by neglect. Richter does not show an opinion on the transformation either yet I see it as a important idea.
The thoughts of Honig and Richter are important to look over. Yet the thoughts of Richter seem only to be on the blaming of society. Society does have to take some of the blame for the torment of Gregor. What Gregor went through had to do with the working views of his time, but Richter should broaden his views to fit more aspects of the story. Honig, however, kept moving and made his opinions felt on many issues of the story. I liked Honigs explanation of the story much more due to its wider perception of the story. I did not, however, agree with Honigs interpretation that Gregor lusted after his sister(Honig 141). The only time I saw lust in the story was his need for a intimate relationship(Kafka 4). The scene when he crawled onto the portrait of the model could be taken to show this lust(Kafka 35).
The self-torment of Gregor by his own mind tells us to spread our attention in this world to experience life to its fullest. It is important to experience everything in life but keep your responsibilities. Work hard during the day but leave your work at the job. The rest of the day needs to be used with friends and family. He also was an example that people should do things that they want, not what is better for others around them. If you go through life trying to please other people with what you do, happiness will never come to you. The Metamorphosis was Kafkas wake up call to the world saying that family comes first in life, not jobs.