‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka

 

 

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Abstract

 

This analytical essay presents an overview of a well-known book namely The Trial, which was written by Franz Kafka - ‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka introduction. The essay puts forward details about the basis of Joseph K’s guilt. The works cited page appends one source in MLA format.

 

 

‘The Trial’ by Franz Kafka

Introduction

Considering the fact that Franz Kafka is more commonly known as the poster boy for twentieth-century isolation and mixed-up apprehension, his work is time and again launched in the framework of Kafka’s own occurrence of estrangement. A Czech in the Austro-Hungarian territory, a German-speaker in the midst of Czechs, a Jew surrounded by German-speakers, an agnostic among Jews; estranged from his hardheaded and domineering father, from his bureaucratic job, from the opposed sex; wedged between a craving to live in literature and to have a regular bourgeois life; intensely and coherently critical of his own self; bodily vulnerable–Kafka found it hard to fine a contented fit (Context, p.1). Kafka considered writing as his profession, but did not sense he could make a source of revenue at it–neither did he predominantly crave to try. It was somewhat purer and more greatly private to him—it was kind of like his get away from life and a momentary interval from his demons.

He took a law clerkship after graduation, and then, for a short time, a job with a private insurance corporation. In 1908, a friend’s father helped him and he got hold of an entry-level position with the Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia. There he worked as a hard-working and esteemed functionary until his untimely retirement in 1922.

W Kafka considered writing as his profession, but did not sense that he could make a source of revenue at it–neither did he predominantly want to try. It was something purer and more greatly private to him—it was kind of like a get away for him and a impermanent interval from his demons. He took a law clerkship after graduation, and then, for a short time, a job with a private insurance corporation. In 1908, the father of a friend helped him in obtaining an entry-level position with the Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia. There he worked as a hard-working and treasured functionary until his untimely retirement in 1922.

When he turned 41 in the year 1924 Kafka became a patient of tuberculosis. A vast amount of his work was put in print after his early death in the same case as many of the nightmares he portrayed in his work were somehow turning into reality in Europe’s new authoritarian states. His works of fiction Amerika, The Trial that were written during 1914-1915 but were later on published in the year 1925, and The Castle were left uncompleted. However he did have enthusiasts for the period of his lifetime. The compilations of short stories and the novels that were published by him sold minimally, but were extremely admired within a small but esteemed circle of German-speaking academics.

“The Trial” is a well-known book, which was written by Franz Kafka. The book presents thought provoking features of the relationship of a human being with the society, government and the power of the modern administration. The book is excellent to read if one wants to read about human destiny, a disclosure of the altered form of modern bureaucracy, an imitation of the irrationality and ridiculousness of the existence of a human.  This book can be considered as one of the most well written books of the twentieth century. In this book, Franz Kafka, has made use of a character namely Joseph K. to show that the real guilt of an individual that is going under trial is not considered important by the courts and governments these days. The author has tried to show the readers that all individuals are being largely empowered by their society and they have to agree with everything that the society puts into practice, even if it is wrong.

A friend of Kafka, by the name of Max Brod, says that Kafka never finished th enovel under consideration and gave the manuscript to him instead in the year 1920. After Kafka died, Brod edited the novel and then got it published in the year 1925.

Summary

The scenery of the novel is early twentieth century inner-city ambiance in offices, courtrooms and provided drawing room location. The chief part of the feat takes place in the warren of courtrooms with its passageways and courses. The church also plays an important part in the plot of the entire novel. The natural world is infrequently the background with sunbeams and rain, daylight and darkness. The story of the novel revolves around a character by the name of Joseph K. Joseph K is a young, very ambitious bank official named who gets detained by two warders, even though Joseph has not done anything wrong. Joseph starts being resentful and irate. The morning that he gets abducted is that of his thirtieth birthday. Right after a year, on the morning of his thirty-first birthday, two warders come for Joseph once again. They take him to an excavation away from the town and kill him in the name of the Law. The Trial is the account of that dominant year of Joseph’s case, his great efforts and encounters with the law that remains unseen as well as the impervious Court. It is an explanation, in due course, of self destruction that has been induced by the state itself. Nevertheless, as the same as in all of Kafka’s most excellent writing, the “meaning” of the text is extremely hard to understand. The Trial has been a criterion of twentieth-century critical explanation. As some reviewers have noted, it has, in parts, the excellence of exposed reality; as such it is in due course irresolvable (Summary, p.1).

At one point in the novel we can note an ironic pillorying of the Austro-Hungarian system of government of Kafka’s day. Nonetheless to a vast number of readers it is dissonantly discerning of the psychosomatic weaponry used by the much more sinister authoritarian establishments to come, of the legally-sanctioned fatality machinery Kafka never lived to see. We can also note that the novel remains unfinished, and this is obvious in the final chapters. It is at times as overpowering to read as the unventilated rooms of the court that have been described in the novel. The German title of the novel, Der Prozess, depicts both a “trial” and a “procedure,” and it is conceivably this infuriating sensation of predictability that leaves a long-lasting intuitive feeling: the equipment has been placed in movement, and the procedure will pulverize in the direction of wrapping up despite our most frantic exhortations.

 

Review

The novel under consideration is an excellent read. In it we find an absurd comic work of art, with a droll that is full of cynical and incongruous laugh on every page. A very creative take on the ordinary and futile temperament of the bureaucracies of contemporary life. A most clairvoyant assessment of lack of confidence, lament, suspicion and culpability. A strange depiction of the human race gone crazy and not caring at all about it. The novel presents to us a renouncement of the entire system and the effects that it has on the life of the middle class person. The novel is a questioning of the indispensable soundness of laws and authority. The Trial is an illusory explanation of an individual’s capture, trial, fervor and putting to death on charges that are never put in plain words to him. The Trial has a number of possible connotations. This vagueness of connotation has resulted in a plethora of interpretation.

The protagonist of the novel under consideration goes by the name of Joseph K. but any one who reads the book would know that all through the book the author has referred to the protagonist as simply K. A number of readers believe that there is no accident that Kafka shaped the character K. as the central character of The Trial. The implication was that Kafka was demanding to symbolize himself by means of the character by providing a close enough name to his character devoid of simply using his own name in the place of the central character of the novel. Kafka did this with an additional one of his characters, and connected them to his life in a considerable way all the way through the book. In The Trial by Franz Kafka, the Law, its courts, as well as the people related to them seem to frame a sort of defectively run, clandestine society. It appears that the rationale of this covert society is to sustain the Law even if it means using very dissimilar techniques of enforcement than the ones that most people are used to. The capture of Joseph K. and the ways in which his assessment is carried out is evidence of the extraordinary workings of this Law. The inexplicable execution of Joseph K. devoid of any understanding of a verdict only adds to the intricacy of the ways by which the law works. Nevertheless what K. by no means does comprehend is that the allegations not in favor of him and the problem of his culpability are more or less irrelevant to his death sentence. Even though K. has the notion that the legal system is somehow just, conventional and lucid, but then later on his encounters with that system show the system to be illogical and unsounded.

As the book under consideration puts forward a rather night mare like world that has been set up by the higher authorities for Joseph K, it is a world that has unexpected happenings, rules that are known only by the higher authorities and where one can get help from unexpected sources. In his effort to find a way out of this world, Joseph K. makes three errors that add to his disastrous stoppage: his unthinking recognition of the case, his incapability to make sense of the indistinguishable rules of the Court, and his disinclination to acknowledge help from what he believes to be untrustworthy sources. When he receives a call convening him to a first questioning, he goes willingly, even though he acts with disdain towards the people congregates to hear his cross-examination. The subsequent week, he shows up devoid of having been sent for, ready to step in. Kafka therefore demonstrates a human propensity to surrender to power, even when that influence is doubtful. Once Joseph K. gives into his case, he is engrossed into the mechanism of a system he can never expect to comprehend or influence. The Courts of Law accountable for the never-ending cases in opposition to Joseph K. and innumerable others make up a maze of unfathomable rules and bureaucratic dead ends. Nothing is documented. Joseph’s choice to take a lively advance in tackling this system is the second slip-up of his fruitless expedition. It is Joseph K’s negative response to recognize the temperament of the system – that of a self-directing machine that does not stop for anyone – that causes to make him not capable to play by its regulations.

Joseph K. remains unsuccessful to recognize not only his own position in his case, but also the responsibilities of others. This is his third inaccuracy, and perhaps the one that made him loose his own life. He over and over again discards offers of help from a vast number of individuals, declining to accept as true that their acquaintance and authority surpass that of the Court officials and lawyers.  As an alternative, Joseph K. decides to take on the Court officials by means of his own practical skills; as Chief Clerk of a bank, he believes himself to be more than talented of discussing his way out of his quandary. On the other hand, the end of the novel finds him cut off and powerless, frantic for even a sight of his neighbor Fräulein Bürstner, whose recommendation at some stage in the early stages of his case he had also cast off.

It is very interesting to know that in the narrative the central character and the rival are both Joseph himself. In view of the fact that the discrepancy is internalized, the outlooks of Joseph are opposed. His efforts to corrupt the court officials and letting himself be contrived by the painter, Titorelli at the same time as making use of the services offered by him, could be well thought-out as his evil behavior. At the pragmatic level Joseph is the central character going against the system and is on the lookout for justice. The antagonists in this case are the court and its support of impartiality, the dishonest magistrates and to conclude the guards who kill Joseph. The high point is the panorama at the Cathedral where the chaplain of the prison accuses Joseph; sermonizing from the platform, to Joseph as an individual person. There is no congregation in the scene and the priest makes attempts to make Joseph conscious and sensitize him to his descend and also bring about the Fall of Man. As the novel is full of heartbreak, the main character loses his urge to resist. The guards kill him.

Kafka was a master of investigating the human situation all the way through the strange and the meaningless, and here he puts forward bleak insight on the beginning and authenticity of law and order. Regrettably, this work of fiction was unfinished at the moment in time of Kafka’s death, and this is somehow prominent in the novel. The book somehow has a rousing and distressing start as the central character, Joseph K, has been detained by anonymous officials who decline to tell him the temperament of the accusations, and he goes on board on a peculiar expedition all the way through a scarcely reasonable legal system, not just making efforts to gain knowledge of his destiny but also making efforts so as to find out just what he has done so bad that it has angered the powers that be. By means of the weird legal equipment as explained in the narrative, Kafka efficiently ridicules the frail fundamentals of legal and political authority in contemporary societies, in conjunction with the human weak points of those who acknowledge having influence over others.
Unfortunately, after the brutal satire and mind-bending surrealism of the early parts of the novel, things begin to unravel for the reader, as it becomes fairly obvious that Kafka had not adequately fleshed out several thematic ideas and character developments. Conversations become interminable and directionless, while characters such as Block the businessmen and Huld the lawyer are poorly drawn mouthpieces for philosophical discussions, rather than empathetic human characters. The tail end of the novel also becomes unorganized with a very long detour into the fable of the gatekeeper (the “In the Cathedral” chapter) that badly disrupts the reader’s interest in K’s fate. The climax and conclusion as presented here return to the spooky surreality of the early portions of the novel, but are also under-written as compared to the more robust earlier chapters, leading to the suspicion that Kafka may not have meant for the book to be released in such an incomplete form. But aside from such readability issues, there’s a reason this book is a classic, and that’s because K’s struggle through an absurdly unfair judicial process really casts a harsh light on how absurd real legal authority can be.

 

Themes and Mood

The Trial puts forward to us a catastrophe in the years of the chief clerk, Joseph K. The turbulence inside him forces him to look for justice. Representatively this is a delightful dare to man. The officials’ schedule array of each day life has been disordered by the disorganized world of the regulation courts. The trial makes K. become conscious his way of thinking. His deteriorating cannot be evaluated in a public trial. The devout urges that exist inside his own self act as the judge. His bad sense of right and wrong makes him go to the court in order to seek justice. There is no precise offense or point of failure.  The mood is of inexorable genuineness and participation with K’s trial. K’s introspection, uncertainty and his rejoinders are for a short time mixed together with climatic changes that take place in the weather. The live sof the people surrounding Joseph, their pleasures and merriments are completely ignored or left out, for example the novel’s arena has been ignored. Neither is there any foundation of consolation or hope in his life.

The system of government, which is the eventual place of safety for the ordinary man’s continued existence and reprisal for any trouncing that he might go through, is the area under discussion in his books. Kafka is tremendously worried with the efforts that are made by a man in order to be able to survive in the modern world. He is also concerned about the integrity and potential of man in being able to face the fraudulent forces in society. This book that as mentioned previous was published in the year 1925 after the death of the author, is well thought-out by a vast number of philosophers and reviewers as the most excellent novel that he wrote. The explanation of isolation and of the estrangement of the contemporary human being is at the center of all Kafka’s oeuvre. One could deem that Joseph projected some persistent themes of the existentialists. His comprehensive and down-to-earth explanation of the human entity survival makes known its irrationality and ineffectiveness. From a metaphysical point of view, the meaningless is based on the nonexistence of God and the ridiculousness to appreciate anything that goes further than level-headedness. From the social point of view, it shoots from the overpowering or scheming temperament of modern society. Over taken by these complications, the character can only try to find refuge in his small individual authenticity, relinquishing comforting answers and certainties.

Punishments as well as threats are a part of every character of Kafka’s destiny. This happens even though the characters are not at fault and have not offended the authorities in any way what so ever. The trial under consideration can not even be considered as a trial by many of us and as said by the author himself it can be considered a trial only because the author mentions that it is one. The beginning of the book is with the words “Someone must have traduced Joseph K. for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning”. the main character of the book namely Joseph K. comes across the hardhearted effects of law but no particular lawgiver, a subject matter Kafka additionally developed in the uncompleted novel that later came to be known by all as The Castle. In the final chapter of the novel the two officials of the higher authorities’ take him away and execute him by stabbing him through the heart.

 

Interpretations

A number of interpretations as mentioned previously have been put forward for this novel under consideration. One such interpretation is that Joseph is guilty of his own existence and the believers of this interpretation believe that the court is right. They believe that the main character is guilty of his existence and he fails to prove or justify his existence. Eventually he falls prey to his guilt and in the end gives in to it and lets the officials execute him. The novel under consideration is an extremely interesting as well as amusing narrative and it is such that it puts forward a permanent atmosphere of disorientation and eccentricity, which is prevalent all the way through the heartbreaking end. One can also believe that the most prevalent subject matter is that of bureaucracy: a depiction of a very perverse yet parctical brand of law and church. But one can justify that the most prevalent pieces of strengths in this considerable novel is in the way that it describes the effects that took place on the life as well as the psychological health of Joseph. “It presents the absurdity of “normal” human nature, of acting upon one manic thought after another and chasing along with surprise after surprise, yet without direction and without result” (The Trial, p.1).

Another prevalent interpretation is that of humanity in the book. all the way through the book the main character remains innocent and does not know exactly what he has done that has angered the law and the authorities so bad. At times one can feel that the author is on trial for his own innocence. One can believe that in order to save himself the lead character should have confessed his guilt of being just another human being. One can believe that the case against Joseph was set up as he could not admit his guilt neither could he prove that he was innocent because more importantly he did not know his crime.

In his book namely “The Trial”, Franz Kafka has attempted to show us the real face of the bureaucracy. The author has excellently shown the readers that guilt and virtuousness of an individual hold no meaning when the government and civil service are given the rights to come up with the laws, rules and regulations, hold trials and summon verdicts. The book starts off by telling the readers how Joseph K. got arrested for a crime he was never even informed about. According to the author, “someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning” (Kafka, p.1). When Joseph K. demands an explanation of his crime, an inspector tells him that they are not allowed to tell him about his crime and K. is not allowed to call his lawyer. Moving on, the books tells us about a vast number of trials that were held to question Joseph K. about his crime, through which Joseph K. never got to know what he did wrong. The author shows the ignorance of the Inspectors when Joseph K. demands an explanation of his crime and keeps saying that he’s innocent, and the Inspector tells his partner “he admits that he doesn’t know the law and yet he claims he’s innocent” (Kafka, p.6-7). In the end of the book, Joseph K. receives capital punishment, without even knowing what crime he had committed.

In this book, the basis of Joseph K’s guilt is that Joseph had never acted like a responsible man throughout his trials. From the very beginning, he has shown an never-ending avoidance of his responsibilities. Throughout the book, Joseph K. keeps blaming everyone but himself for the vast number of trials and the state that he is in at the moment and he keeps on passing the liability of helping him to the other characters. Joseph K’s whole life is about to be destroyed by this case, but he still does not take the court and the trials seriously, which shows his irresponsibility and negligence. All through the book, K. is also extremely passionate towards the female sex. He keeps getting into meaningless relationship with women, such as Elsa, the wife of the court usher etc. Even at the end of the story, Joseph K. knows that he has to kill himself, but he hands over the responsibility to his companions, who stabbed the knife deep into his heart. According to the author, “the hands of one of the partners were already at K’s throat, while the other thrust the knife deep into his heart and turned it there twice. With failing eyes K. could still see the two of them immediately before him, cheek leaning against cheek, watching the final act. “Like a dog!” he said: it was as if the shame of it must outlive him” (Kafka, p.251). This shows that Joseph was never ready to accept his responsibility, which was his only guilt. The heartlessness and irrationality of the modern age are reflected in nearly all the writings that have been put forward by Franz Kafka. The obstinacy and rigid approach of the system of government in every line of work, as well as that of court proceedings or perhaps even the facility of being able to obtain a visa. The understandable and noninterventionist democratic systems of the world overcrowding the rights of individuals to ask for justice are perhaps the background of the novel. (Background Information, p.1).

Conclusion

“The Trial” is a well known book written by Franz Kafka about the upsetting behavior of the bureaucracy. He believes that the people are being largely affected by their society, which manipulates them in extremely harmful ways. In this book, the main character knows nothing about his crime and in the end; he dies without knowing what crime he had committed.

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Background Information. Retrieved on August 19, 2007 from: http://pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/monkeynotes/pmTrial09.asp

 

Context. Retrieved on August 19, 2007 from: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/trial/context.html

 

Kafka, Franz. The Trial. United States of America. Schocken Books Inc. ISBN: 0805210407.

 

Summary. Retrieved on August 19, 2007 from: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/trial/summary.html

 

The Trial. Retrieved on August 19, 2007 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trial#Interpretations

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