Discussion on Franz Kafka’s The Castle (Anthea Bell Translation)
Franz Kafka’s The Castle is incredibly thought-provoking and stimulating, to say the least. Set in a snow-covered village controlled by a very ambiguous and bureaucratic Castle, the protagonist known only as K. embarks on a quest to gain authorization to be in the village and fulfill the job that he claims to have been called for, land-surveying. As the story progresses, K. encounters more and more hindrances standing in the way of him having any type of legitimate or official communication with the Castle or any of its officials. There are about as many interpretations of what the Castle actually symbolizes or stands for as there are Kafka readers and aficionados. Considering Kafka’s enigmatic and dark writing, this is hardly surprising. He utilizes a puzzling and mysterious style of writing that, as a result, allows for many meanings, connotations, inferences, suggestions and conclusions to be derived from the text. Such writing style includes elements of “mystery, transcendence and the infinite”, characteristics that Kafka “saw in the human world” (Smetana, 1991). Similarly, Kafka’s writing in The Castle incorporates somewhat morbid and cheerless themes to match the style. Perhaps the most obvious one that can be inferred from the subtext is that of power and authority in society.
There are several facts and instances indicating that the Castle exerts some sort of power on the villagers, at least it seems that way at first. For one thing, the village is property of the Castle. Also, K. is constantly instructed and reminded of the importance of getting clearance from the Castle to carry out his job, or even to continue being in the village. As soon as he arrives, he is told by Schwarzer that he needs authorization from the Castle to be in the village. Moreover, K. is antagonized by the whole village for not paying the proper respect for Castle officials...