The Nature of Space in Kafka's The Castle

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The Nature of Space in Kafka's The Castle

From the end of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of World War I,

great developments in technology and knowledge brought about significant

changes in the way man viewed time and space. The necessity of clear train

schedules led to the development of World Standard Time and the plurality

of private time. In regards to space, with which this paper deals, man

moved into other subjective realms beyond the two and three dimensions

described by Euclid. In fact, with Einstein's theory of relativity, the

number of spaces inherent in life increased beyond calculation to equal the

number of moving reference systems of all the matter in the universe. This

theory echoes Nietzche's contemporary philosophical theory of

perspectivism, where space only consists of points of view and

interpretations, not objective facts. Thus, these two doctrines signaled a

breakdown of the old notion that there is a single reality, a single,

absolute space. Space became subjective and relative, man could not be sure

of what it was that actually surrounded him and made up his physical world.

Creative artists, painters and novelists, attempted to deal with this new

concept. Attacks were made on traditional notions that there is only one

space and that a single point of view is equal to an understanding.

Writers, specifically, responded with multiple perspectives depicting

different views of the same objects in space in order to demonstrate that

the world is always different as it is perceived by various observers at

varying times. Man had to come to grips with the fact that with such a

plurality of space, he cannot know, understand, or even see the physical

world completely.

Thus, it is not surprising that Kafka's final work, The Castle, which

emerged out of the pluralism and confusion of this age, deals with this new

notion of space, this new relativity of the world surrounding man. While

the book can be looked at on a spiritual level, with the castle symbolizing

divinity or the ultimate spiritual meaning of man's existence, in regards

to space, the castle could also symbolize the actual literal, physical

world. Through the nature of K. and his quest, the different ways the

Castle is perceived by K. from various viewpoints along his quest, and the

inability of anyone to know the true nature of the castle officials, Kafka
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