Franz Kafka's The Trial Essays

Franz Kafka's The Trial Essays

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An enigmatic storyteller, Franz Kafka's legacy has long remained the subject of many writings on existential literature. His stories explore themes which are so depressing, and at times seem so futile, as to put off many a reader while entrancing yet another. The most popular of his works, The Trial is no less perplexing than its brethren, and a perfunctory examination leaves the reader distinctly unsatisfied. After all, what is the point of reading a two hundred odd page book about a man on trial if you never find out what he did, or if he's even guilty? It's tempting to suggest that, being an existential piece of literature, the point is that there is no point. However, Kafka's work is so multi-faceted as to provide many other possible interpretations - a myriad of which are of much greater value than such a simplistic analysis. One of the more interesting angles to consider The Trial from consists of recognizing the story as one of Josef's troubled self-identity, and the characters in it as representative of a mental struggle with uncertainty and guilt. Examined in this light, the story ceases to feel so monotonous and dull, and the ending is ultimately less jarring and unexpected.
The first question that comes to mind while reading The Trial is, understandably, who accused Joseph, and of what? After all, the opening words of the story set the tone with the assertion, "Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested." Yet, these words can be interpreted in a somewhat different way than assuming someone simply accused Josef of something he never did. For, on a deeper level, it doesn't matter who accused Josef - and for all anyone will ever know, Josef may have ...


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...between a notion of good and evil," and "deprived of all metaphysical guidelines...[but] nevertheless obligated to act morally in a world where death renders everything meaningless." A distinctly unenviable position, it seems that, in the end, what troubles Josef most is the guilt of uncertainty.



Bibliography
Czermak, Herberth CliffsNotes on The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. 17 Feb 2014
.
Kafka, Franz, and Breon Mitchell. The trial: a new translation, based on the restored text. New York: Schocken Books, 1998.
Reis de Oliveira, Irismar. "Kafka’s trial dilemma: Proposal of a practical solution to Joseph K.™s unknown accusation." Medical Hypotheses 77, no. 1 (2012): 5-6. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987711001125#articles (accessed February 15, 2014).


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