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Free Study Guide: The Trial by Franz Kafka - Synopsis / Analysis

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K. is torn between two realities - one of the well-ordered official post at the bank and the disorderly, chaotic world of the court of law. K.ís world of the bank is inseparable from his world of the court. K.'s attitude towards life is exemplified in the position he holds in the bank. His career, his business pursuits, his aims follow the set pattern of professional modern living and also of his whole being. His relations with he Manager and the Assistant Manager are most revealing. The Assistant Manager is also the acting-Manager when K. pursuer his case. He is K.'s competitor in the Bank. There is a hidden rivalry between the two. K. struggles to survive in his official post with his self-preservation instincts.

The Assistant Manager's appearance is like a scepter, again a metaphor hiding his feelings. K. is likewise masking his appearance. He is civil and follows the formalities of courtesy without any genuine feeling. K. is civil and follows the formalities of courtesy without any genuine felling. The trial brings to the fore his straggle and weakens him in this rat race. The schism in existence, bringing about his down fall is completely and cruelly exposed. His fall is likened to the fall of man at the metaphorical level. K. is also the victim of delusion in prejudging the court and complaining and opposing. His protest against the court is also a protest against the world. He refuses to take any personal responsibility for the modern world's confusion. But because he is the sole person to be arrested, he is the chosen one. He does not realize this because he does not listen to his inner consciousness. K. is like the accused in the legend "Before the Law".

K.'s arrest forces him to perceive the reality around him and also to think about his own mind and the validity of its existence. He is driven to the court more by his becoming aware of his invalid superficial principles. He runs away more and more from the court without understanding the meaning of the court's working till the prison chaplain enlightens him.

The parable, which the chaplain narrates, mixes physical and dreamlike images. This displays a complicated imaging on the part of the author. Kafka delineates the bureaucracy in the role of the doorkeeper and the old accused man who gets caught in the system. Though the officials want to break away from the system they are unable to do so. The Chaplain offers this parable and says that the private man is in comparison a free man. There is a message in the story like all parables. If man inquires into the determination of his own existence instead of staring at the superhuman world of courts he could be liberated on earth itself. If the private person, the accused had only asked for whom the entrance was intended before dying he would have received "the redeeming message".

His encounter with the priest in the cathedral is a climax. The priest asks him to assess his own role and character amidst all the chaos and corruption raging around him. The priest sees him on the think of a great abyss from where no actin is possible in the course of the trial. The fact that K. tries to justify and free himself is an acceptance of guilt. His guilt cannot be defined in human language. K. has prejudged himself as innocent. He is deluded and refuses to listen to the court or the divine word. He is interested in the unimportant as against the essential. Symbolically as the priest, a messenger of god delivers his sermon, K. has an album instead of a prayer look in his hand. He does not hear the prophecy nor the supernatural summons. Symbolically the lamp that the priest gives him to carry into the world outside goes out.

K. is deluded like the accused man begging even the flea in the doorkeepers fur cap. He tries to influence the court officials, the Advocate, the painter, but there is always an obstacle, K. represents the entire mass of humanity, which is deluded in history. K. accuses the doorkeeper in the legend as obstructing the moral or divine order of the world. But then like K. man has to live in the hope of the divine or else there is no hope for his survival.

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The Trial by Franz Kafka: Free BookNotes Summary

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