The Trial and Guilt

Topics: Franz Kafka, The Trial, Romy Schneider Pages: 4 (1381 words) Published: February 26, 2013
Guilty With No Further Question
Guilt is a powerful feeling. It often shapes our character and actions. It is human instinct to fear being judged, and denial is an inherent tendency. Franz Kafka’s The Trial opens with an idea of guilt and innocence. “Someone must have slandered Joseph K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested” (Kafka 3). This introduction initially implies to the reader that Joseph K. is innocent. However, as the novel unfolds, and we are given more, yet unlimited information, the reader’s concept of K.’s innocence shifts. Though we never find out what he did wrong, K.’s guilt becomes more present with each succeeding chapter. The recurring theme of guilt manifests itself frequently throughout the novel onto Joseph K.’s inner conscience and religion. Joseph K. seems to be a lucky man. By his 30th birthday, he is a successful executive at a thriving bank, knows many women, and lives in a nice inn. When two men he has never seen before come to arrest him, his world is turned upside down. One of the men is named Franz, which was perhaps done purposely by Kafka. K searches for his identification papers, which he has trouble finding, and while doing so, Franz gives him a “long and no doubt meaningful, but incomprehensible, look”, and K. finds himself staring back (Kafka 8). After this, Franz explains that the court is knowledgeable enough to not need any identification papers and that the Law states, the court is “attracted by guilt and has to send [us] guards out” (Kafka 9). After this, he is allowed to go about his life as he did before, and is expected to attend inquiries about his case. This minor scene sets the tone for the court’s impending presence on K’s life. It is a foreshadowing of K’s trial and being a prisoner to the court. The character of Franz should not be overlooked, as the name was chosen for a reason, as well as the last name K. Perhaps Kafka portrayed himself through the character Franz. Franz...

Cited: Kafka, Franz. The Trial. Trans. Breon Mitchell. New York: Schocken Books Inc., 1998. Print.
Miller, Matthew. Class Lecture. Magic Realism. Stern College.
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