Familial Obligations

Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, is a story of change, or the movement of one phase of life to the next. There is a complete turn of Gregor’s character physically and mentally throughout the story. The most striking themes portrayed are the unpleasantness of work, the skewed view of life, and the collapse of Gregor as the head of the household.

From early on we learn that Gregor is unhappy with his current job situation. His monotonous life as a traveling salesman keeps him unfortunately lifeless. He appears exhausted at the mere thought of work, but carries on due to his “familial obligations.”

The turn of events at the onset of Metamorphosis would seem to relieve Gregor in some small way. Nevertheless, being transformed into a dung beetle doesn’t settle his mind, and make him process other thoughts outside of going to work. “The most logical recourse would be to make any sacrifice whatsoever if there was even the slightest hope of freeing himself from the bed. Yet at the same time, he did not neglect to keep reminding himself that a calm, indeed the calmest reflection was far superior to desperate resolves” (2002). Each movement and thought that Gregor had was to further satisfy his demanding duty to his family.

Undoubtedly, change is inevitable. With the sudden metamorphosis Gregor’s family is sprung into the work force. This puts a substantial burden on the shoulders of Gregor’s father, mother, and sister.

Gregor’s viewpoint of the world steadily changes throughout the story. However,

his love for his family is constant. The thing that is not as evident is his family’s distorted view of reality.

Gregor’s lack of communication set up a wall that disrupts his familial relationships. This barrier creates the affect of his metamorphosis. This, in turn, eventually leads to the long awaited thought that the dung beetle caged in Gregor’s room is not really Gregor at all. The thought, not once, comes up in the story until Grete seems to lose optimism just before the insect falls lifeless. ““It has to go,” exclaimed the sister, “that’s the only way, Father. You simply have to try and get rid of the idea that it is Gregor. Our real misfortune is that we believed it for such a long time. Just how can that possibly be Gregor?”” (2027).

To not think that Gregor might not be the dung beetle is beyond reason. Instead of asking the what’s and why’s of there being a creature taking up Gregor’s room, the family just assumed Gregor had been turned into a dung beetle. Considering the fact that the family didn’t let the beetle venture out, it can be assumed that this has not a very common event.

The metamorphosis of Gregor represents a struggle and responsibility within the Samsa family that has lied solely with Gregor. This complete change disrupts the hierarchy within the household. Suddenly, Gregor isn’t the breadwinner and loses his rank. Immediately taking charge, his father, beats Gregor into his room, and then later catapults apples at him. Not only has Gregor lost his position, he’s now a prisoner in the home that he long provided for.

Gregor’s family is thrown into the daunting tasks that once belonged to him, leaving him mostly uncared for. His every need isn’t taken care of, like they would have been if the shoes were back on the right feet. However, this change was needed. This family was on a journey to their eventual self-reliance. “Leaning back comfortably in their seats, they discussed their future prospects and concluded that, upon closer perusal, these were anything but bad; for a while they had never actually asked one another for any details, their jobs were all exceedingly advantageous and also promising,” (2030). Gregor’s makeover proved to be beneficial to the Samsa family. They had to learn to not rely on Gregor to make sure everything was taken care of. They had to find their own footing on their path, and it took something as noteworthy as a dung beetle taking lodging in their home to make them realize that.

The Samsa family withstood their troubles and managed to make it to a more luminous day. Gregor suffered an unpleasant fate, although, he was still working for his family until his death. Ultimately, he managed to make them more cheerful and optimistic people because of his metamorphosis.