Essay about Franz Kafka's The Trial

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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…show more content…
Indeed, the first chapter of the story relates how Josef wakes to find himself under arrest, and for some time the guards refuse to let him see anyone else in his boarding house, or even leave his room. Yet, it is revealed shortly later that Josef is free to walk about and continue his life despite being under arrest, even though he is temporarily accompanied by three men appointed to watch him. This train of events, if taken literally, is actually rather odd. Why would Josef's guards put so much effort into isolating him that morning, if Josef was going to be allowed to roam free while his trial went on only a short while later? If one accepts that Josef is dealing with a crisis of identity and struggling with a shortcoming he refuses to acknowledge, this train of events makes more sense. For, in the first moments of shock, Josef feels incapacitated, and even trapped by this self-doubt that he acts so convinced is unwarranted. And it takes some time for Josef to realize that his life can continue as it always has, and he can push the accusation to the back of his mind as represented by the three subordinates who accompany him for a short while. These subordinates soon disappear from view as Josef himself stops thinking about the trial and dismisses it almost completely. In a trend which continues throughout the story, the first thing Josef does on arriving home from work on the day of his accusation is to visit a woman. This one
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