«The Trial», analysis of the novel by Kafka

«The Trial», created by Franz Kafka at the beginning of the XX century, worries the minds of literary critics and film directors for a whole century. The piece, written in the unique literary style of modernism, «magical realism» and existentialism, analyses the classic problem of modern society — the conflict between a person and society.

«The Trial» belongs to the genre of philosophical novel. In addition, traits of both classical novel of the realism epoch and fantasy novel are surprisingly subtly intertwined in the novel. All this together gave an astonishing literary result. Throughout the narration, that covers one year of life of the main character — banks head procurist Joseph K., the reader is immersed by the author in the well-known and understood world. Here in front of the reader is the guesthouse, where ordinary people live at the beginning of the XX century. Here is bank, where completely unremarkable clerks and couriers work. Here is the city with its streets, houses and outskirts, its life and people. Everything is as usual, everything is as it needs to be, and only the Trial, like an invisible hand of fate, constantly breaks in and destroys the familiar reality with its presence.

Author does not emphasize recurring appearance of the fantastic elements in «The Trial» in any way. They come in the narration naturally. Kafka does not use any particular concision artistic devices even when describing the most unbelievable things (for example, the scenes of flogging of two guards in the bank`s pantry by the executioner, that recur every day and are only visible to the Joseph K. ). His literary style, his language is equally calm, detailed and clear in any situations. Moreover, precisely this lack of distinction of peculiarities, that destroy the familiar view of reality, allows «The Trial» to show all the absurdity of the surroundings.

Some long time ago, Shakespeare compared human life with theater. Kafka went further: he saw in human life only one endless trial, senseless and merciless. The arrest of the protagonist happens on his birthday not by accident — this is a peculiar kind of hint to the reader that all following events will be more allegorical rather than real. Joseph K. lives his final year under the trial, that nobody knows anything about. Characters guilt is unknown even to the judges leading his case. He is guilty just because everyone is guilty of something in his life and that is reason enough.

The novel is composed on the classic principle: first comes the introduction (awakening of Joseph K., notice of the arrest and interrogation by Fräulein Bürstner). Then comes the development of the plot (and very slowly at that, judging by the fact that the lawyer Huld is writing his first petition to the court over the course of several months). After that comes the culmination (Joseph’s refusal of attorney services, listening of the fable «Before the Law»), following which comes the climax, unexpected at first, but prepared by the whole process of narration (execution of the death sentence). Joseph K. never knows what he is punished for, not even when he is killed «like a dog» — stabbed in the heart with a knife.

All the heroes of the novel are involved in the court proceedings in one way or another. Endless court officials of various ranks and kinds: the lawyer Huld, court artist Titorelli, Huld`s nurse Leni — all of them are working for either the Court, or those well received there. Even completely neutral Fräulein Bürstner (typewriter by trade), that appeared in life of Joseph K. after his arrest, immediately wants to study law to help the character to clear his charges.It is worth mentioning that during the course of «The Trial» women are clinging to the hero. The lawyer Huld explains this with the fact that women subconsciously find all the accused ones attractive. This feature is especially manifested in the lawyers nurse — Leni. She is ready to share her love with every accused — and not separately, but all at once.

Kafka shows the absurdity of life via the chronotope of the novel as well. Joseph K. always deals with the judicial system in closed, oppressive environments — in his apartment (damn near his own bed), at the attic of the court registry, in the studio with tightly nailed windows. In time, space begins to close in in (да, глагол close in и предлог in, я не опечатался) the regular life of the character as well: tiny pieces of walls and roofs of the neighboring houses are shown in the windows, inside the buildings the character is always surrounded by mobs — court officials, bank clerks, and promiscuous teenage girls.

After choosing to defend himself, Joseph K. dooms himself to death just with the fact of not wanting to play by the rules of judicial system. This is his tragedy as well as his happiness.

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