Caught in a Mouse Trap: K's Struggles in Kafka's The Trial Essay

Caught in a Mouse Trap: K's Struggles in Kafka's The Trial Essay

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Caught in a Mouse Trap: K’s Struggles in Kafka’s The Trial
Modernists built upon the shambles of World War I by searching for a philosophy that takes into account the rampant destruction of man’s body and spirit. The end result was a patchwork of disconnection and incongruities. Modernists admit that they do not know – though they sought a higher meaning to life, most, if not all, failed in the attempt (Lewis 38). Instead, they were left, as Albert Camus asserted, with an “odd state of soul . . . in which the chain of daily gestures is broken, in which the heart vainly seeks the link that will connect it again" (Rhein 12). Like many Modernist writers, Franz Kafka searches for the meaning of life in a world where God and religion are put in doubt. Specifically, Kafka drew on his experiences living in a world consumed by fear and anticipation of an impending totalitarian state that would emerge in the future (Kundera 90). He provided insight into this world’s arbitrary violence. As fellow Czech writer Milan Kundera claims, “In Kafka, the institution is a mechanism that obeys its own laws; no one knows now who programmed those laws or when; they have nothing to do with human concerns and are thus unintelligible” (Kundera 90). Nowhere is this more apparent than in Kafka’s The Trial, where an elusive Court system arbitrarily selects victims to torture and subsequently murder in the name of the state. Josef K. is such a victim. He is accused of a nameless crime. While he is consumed with proving his innocence in the spectacle of the Court system, it becomes more apparent that there may be no absolute end to his struggle. The clues and hints that he receives from people connected to the judiciary are not substantial, and ultimately l...

... middle of paper ...

...wing K. to pin it down.

Works Cited
Kafka, Franz. The Trial. New York : Schocken Books, 1998. Print.
Kundera, Milan. “Kafka's World.” The Wilson Quarterly (1976-), Vol. 12, No. 5 (Winter, 1988), pp. 88-99. Web. 11 Apr. 2014.
Lewis, Pericles. Modernism, Nationalism, and The Novel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. pp. 38-39. Print.
Rhein, Phillip H. "Chapter 2: The Absurd." Albert Camus, Rev. ed. Phillip H. Rhein. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989. Twayne's World Authors Series 69. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 7 Feb. 2011.
Waterfield, Robin, trans. “Heraclitus of Ephesus.” The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and the Sophists. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. pp. 32-48. Print.

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