Trial By Franz Kafka Is Term Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Business - Law Type: Term Paper Paper: #9971517 Related Topics: Profanity, Air Quality, Bribery, Italian
Excerpt from Term Paper :

He is taken outside, where the fresh air revives him. In this Chapter, K. suffers two types of defeat; first the defeat of his aborted sexual conquest that would ultimately be a victory over the Magistrate, and secondly the defeat of the air making him unable to go the Court offices. He is physically unable to be in the vicinity of the Court, and therefore unable to attempt to resolve his legal problems.

Chapter 4 is another abortive attempt to reestablish his ties with a lady. Fraulein Burstner lets K. know via Fraulein Montag that she does not wish to see him, and subsequently leaves, to make only one more appearance in the novel. When K. enters her empty apartment to look for her, he feels that he is doing something not only wrong, but also pointless. This pointlessness emphasizes the lack of meaning mentioned above.

Chapter 5 returns to the theme of surreal horror that K. began to experience in the beginning of the novel. It is also here that K. begins to realize the gravity of his situation. When leaving work, a noise from a lumber room attracts his attention. The scene that greets him upon investigation is grotesque and horrific. The two warders responsible for his initial arrest are being whipped mercilessly. This is a punishment for their conduct, about which K. complained during his first day in Court. K. is racked not only by horror, but also by an extreme guilt for the men's misery. This marks the culmination of the mental breakdown for which the Court is eventually responsible:

Furthermore, the scene focuses on K.'s increasing sense of powerlessness, as indicated when he listens at the door to the lumber room: "He was no longer in any position to help anyone..." (Kafka 30). He is unable to help the men either by bribery or self-sacrifice. Before he can offer help, K. is driven away by the screams and calls of the men. The horror associated with this is symbolic of the gradual torture that the Court is perpetrating against K., although in a much more subtle way than the Whipper. K.'s indicates the breakdown that is beginning in earnest.

Chapter 6 further emphasizes K.'s mental breakdown by focusing on the protagonist's sense of reality. According to his actions in this chapter, he is still not quite aware of how serious his situation is. In addition, this chapter also contains his third meaningless tryst with a woman, Leni. This occurs during a visit to the Court Clerk, arranged by his uncle in an attempt to help K.K. however is seduced by Leni's charms to the point where he no longer considers the meeting important, and leaves with the girl. His uncle rebukes him, "We wanted to discuss how best to help you, I had to handle the lawyer very carefully, he had to handle the office director carefully, and you had most reason of all to at least give me some support." (Kafka 32).

K.'s actions appear to indicate that he does not really care at this point.

His flippant attitude however may also be indicative of K.'s progressive mental breakdown. The whipping scene from the previous chapter may have damaged him psychologically to such an extent that he was merely searching for an escape from the oppressive reality from the Court and its Clerks.

Indeed, Chapter 7 appears to confirm this. K.'s work and mental well-being is beginning to suffer as a result of his legal problems. He is exhausted from the strain, worry and frustration of the case. The emptiness of his sexual relations is indicated by the fact that he does not seek solace in the arms of a women in this case, but rather consults with a painter who has some experience of the Court. The painter brings home to K. The exact nature of his relationship with the Court. It is a no-win situation for K., but at least he can postpone his case indefinitely.

As the painter continues to make K. aware of this oppressive reality, K. again begins to be physically affected by the air quality around him. It becomes increasingly stuffy and K. is increasingly anxious to emerge into the fresh air. It appears that the oppressiveness of the air progresses together with the increasing oppression of the Court and K.'s deteriorating mental state: "... It was actually not the heat that made him uncomfortable but, much more, the stuffiness, the air that almost made it more difficult to breathe, the room had probably not been ventilated for a long time." (Kafka 42)

In terms of his relationships...


The Court controlled him to such an extent that it was impossible to form meaningful relationships, maintain friendships, or indeed to perform well in any area of life. This, according to the painter, would be K.'s future, regardless of the type of "acquittal" he would receive.

Chapter 7 then marks a significant turning point for K, where he begins to truly come to terms with the darkness of his future. Perhaps this also indicates why K. appears to give up as it were at the end of Chapter 9, to meet his death at the end of the novel.

Whereas Chapter 7 represents a verbal account of K.'s dire future, Chapter 8 is a physical symbolization in the form of Block, a man who has been in the clutches of the Court for more than five years, and the years have taken their toll. This is also the chapter in which K. resolves to dispense with his lawyer's services. Upon waiting for the lawyer to appear, K. briefly sees Leni again. While he has a brief encounter with Leni and a bout of jealousy in addition, the two do not engage sexually. This again indicates K.'s absorption in his legal problems.

When the lawyer could not convince K. To retain him, Leni sends Block in, whose humiliation K. then witnesses. After five years of struggle with the Court, Block's physical and mental resources are depleted to such an extent that he fearfully allows Leni and the lawyer to humiliate him as they please. He appears to be a shell of a man, although he also appears to know everything about the Court and legal matters, about which he speaks at length to K. It then appears that the mental effort of understanding and battling with the Court has developed Block's capacity out of all proportion to the rest of him. This knowledge seems to have absorbed all his other faculties, both mental and physical.

Ironically, there is nothing useful he can do with this knowledge to help either himself or others. Indeed, all that he accomplishes is make prospective clients aware of the hopelessness of not only their current situation, but also of their future. At the end of Chapter 8, K. darkly reflects on Blocks resemblance to nothing better than a dog - this is the state the Court reduced him to in five years.

Chapter 9 furthers the theme of K.'s progressive lack of choice perpetrated by the Court, which is apparently present everywhere, like the stale air that surrounds it. In this Chapter, K.'s workplace difficulties are exacerbated by its increasing demands on his time and energy. He for example spends a large amount of the night in preparation for escorting an Italian client to important landmarks in his city. This places further strain on his mental faculties, already taxed by the stress related to his case.

The element of surrealism once again enters the narrative when K. is waiting for the Italian at the cathedral. The Italian is late, but the prison chaplain does arrived, dressed in priestly robes. The dreamlike and unreal quality of the scene is enhanced when K. attempts to leave the already nearly empty church before the sermon begins. He is startled when the priest calls out his name. The priest's explanation is that, as the prison chaplain, he is connected to the court, and that he was the one to summon K. To the church.

A number of questions arise as a result of this confession. Why, for example, would the priest go to such extreme lengths to summon K. instead of merely making an appointment with him? Why use the Italian as a decoy? This method seems reminiscent of spy novels or films, where extraordinary lengths are taken to maintain secrecy.

The symbolism of the Cathedral furthermore indicates that even the sacred is no protection from the profanity of the court. There is truly no escape from the oppression of the Court, as the priest indeed indicates with his dark warnings. In terms of his mental state, the priest indicates that K. is deluded, because he does not trust the Court or its…

Sources Used in Documents:

In a more general sense, the book can be related to life in general. Many experience life as surreal and unfair, particularly in a materialistic age where religion has an increasingly weak influence on the human mind. Life itself is oppressive, because at the end of life lies the inevitability of death. In this sense, Kafka's novel can be seen to indicate the dichotomy of attempting to make meaning in conditions that are almost impossibly meaningless. Death negates the importance of all we do during life.


Kafka, Franz. The Trial. Transl. David Wyllie. Project Gutenberg: 2003. Available online:

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