The Trial by Franz Kafka chronicles the arrest of a worldly, young bank official, Joseph K. for an unknown crime and traces his struggles and encounters with the invisible Law and untouchable Court. Although the novel is critically acclaimed for satirizing the Austro-Hungarian bureaucracy of Kafka’s time it also seems to be criticizing the arrogance of the common people. Joseph K.’s eventual downfall is not just due to the in comprehensible judicial system but can be attributed to his own insensitive and egotistical character that allows him to take his arrest lightly and refuse help from others—leading to his final defeat.
K.’s somewhat arrogant, curt, and egotistical personality is apparent from the beginning of the beginning of the novel and can be seen through his encounter with his landlady, Frau Grubach. Frau Grubach is reliable conscientious and seems to be quite fond of K., evidenced during a conversation when she says “he could visit her anytime, he was her best and dearest boarder, as he well knew” (Kafka, 24). In spite of Frau Grubach’s generous hospitality, K. easily takes advantage of her—when he is talking to his neighbor Frau Burstner, K. says that “[Grubach’s] beholden to me since she’s borrowed a large sum of money from me”(27). K’s relationship with Frau Grubach seems to be reversed from the traditional landlady-tenant relationship—he has power over her. He even thinks “for a moment of punishing Frau Grubach by talking to Fraulein Burstner into joining him in giving notice” suggesting that them leaving the residence would hurt Grubach more than themselves (28). This sense of security is what allows him to assume a sense of arrogant authority. Even K.’ job is good and reliable as he claims that being absent that day “would be easily overlooked, considering the comparatively high post he held there” (8). In this manner, Kafka illustrates K.’s arrogance and cocksure attitude.
Everything so far in K.’s life seems clear cut—from...
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