“The Castle“, analysis of the novel by Franz Kafka

“The Castle”, written by Franz Kafka in 1922, falls into the category of the most significant and enigmatic philosophical novels of the XX century. In it, the writer raises an important theological problem of the path of the human being towards God. Containing literary traits of both modernism and existentialism, “The Castle” is, to the large extent, a metaphorical and even mythical work. The realities of life are present only so far: the artistic space of the novel is limited to The Village and The Castle overlooking it, the artistic time changes irrationally and without any explanation.

The location of “The Castle” is impossible to place into any precise geographical point, it contains the whole world: The Castle is the prototype of Heaven, The Village – of the Earth. During the course of the whole novel, various characters emphasize that there is no particular difference between The Castle and The Village, and that clearly points to one of the main points of Christianity about the unity and integrity of life on Earth and in Heaven.
Action period in “The Castle” has no historical foothold. The only known fact about it is that there is winter now that will last, probably, for an eternity. The coming of spring (according to Pepi, who replaces barmaid Frieda for a time) is short and often followed by snowfall. In the novel, winter is an author`s perception of human life, steeped in cold, fatigue and constant show obstacles.

The composition of the novel is not analyzable because of its incompleteness and peculiar plot development of “The Castle”. The novel has no dramatic downs and ups. The protagonist – K. – arrives to The Village (is born) and stays there forever to find the path toward The Castle (God). The novel, just like human life, does not have a classic beginning, development and culmination. Rather it is separated into conceptual parts that describe different stages of the life of the protagonist.

In the beginning K. poses as a Land-Surveyor and finds out with a surprise that he is indeed a Land-Surveyor. K. receives two assistants from The Castle – Arthur and Jeremiah. In the novel, these characters partly resemble angels (protector and “destroyer”) and partly – children. The direct superior of K. is Klamm – an important official from The Castle. Who is Klamm? What does he look like? What is he? What is his expertise? Nobody knows that. Even Klamm`s messenger Barnabas has never seen Klamm with his own eyes. It is not surprising that K. and all residents of The Village are irresistibly drawn to Klamm. The protagonist understands that exactly Klamm will help him find a way inside The Castle. Klamm is, in a way, a God for the village residents, despite the fact that the ruler of The Castle is someone named Count Westwest, who is mentioned only once – at the beginning of the novel.

Like in any big literary work, “The Castle” has a nested story – the tale of Olga, Barnabas` sister, of a tragedy, that happened with her family. The girl`s story may be called the information culmination of the novel, that explains real interaction between the villagers and the castle`s officials to the reader. The villagers, in a manner usual to ordinary folk, idolize the officials, who are heavenly creatures (good or evil – is for everyone to decide for themselves). It is accustomed in The Village to please the officials, fulfil their every whim. When Amalia (younger sister of Barnabas and Olga) refuses to visit Sortini in an inn, the news spread around in a moment, her family is immediately and completely isolated – everyone stops working and communicate with them. Attempts of the father of the family to beg for forgiveness are ended with a severe sickness. Olga, who spends nights with the servants of the officials, can’t event achieve her being remembered in The Castle. And only Barnabas, burning with sincere desire to serve in The Castle, reaches the first registries (churches), where he meets pleaders (people), officials (priests) and sometimes even Klamm (God) himself.

The romantic storyline of the novel revolves around relationship between K. and Frieda. The protagonist notices her when he finds out that she is Klamm`s lover. He is attracted to Frieda because of two reasons: she is good both as a mean of achieving his goal (personal meeting with Klamm) and as impersonation of Klamm and The Castle. What leads Frieda, who gives up her position (life) and a powerful lover (God) for a piss-poor land-surveyor, is hard to understand. It is possible to assume that the girl wanted to challenge the society in order to become more recognized and loved by Klamm after her return to him (repentance of her sins).

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