Free Study Guide: The Trial by Franz Kafka - Synopsis / Analysis|
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THE TRIAL: DOWNLOADABLE STUDY GUIDE
It is only when K. considers for the last time the option of killing himself
that Fräulein Bürstner appears. She comes as if in a dream and
triggers in K. a thought process. K. realizes that he had faltered in
his understanding of the significance of her advice when she had rebuked
him to depend upon himself. He realizes that it was meaningless to continue
fighting death. The novel ends with the death of the protagonist Joseph
K. The last lines are " ‘Like a dog!’ It was as if the shame of it
must outlive him,..."
In the final chapter K.'s execution in a stone quarry is the disillusionment that lets in. His dying like a dog is the death of the canine consciousness, a dog whose physical senses are very alert. He does not see the spiritual light, which the priest offers and so he gives in. Also, he has lived a bachelor's existence, the figure that is like Fräulein Bürstner is unreachable. He had very little of "give and take" in his life, caring and sharing. The void in his life metaphorically symbolizes the blankness in modern living.
Without knowing what his guilt is, K. responds as a guilty man. He refuses to submit to the divine will. His end is brought about by the break down of his resistance. The conclusion is open-ended. Does K. die because death is preferable to survival with a lack of faith? Does he die because he lacks the strength to resist? Or is his ending an allegory? It invites wide reader appeal defying closure. K. is executed at a place, a quarry symbolizing the sacrificial altar.
While K. is rooted in ordinary existence he is fighting the courts against a timeless, immeasurable background. He does not want to acknowledge the new significance. On his thirteenth birthday, the threshold of middle age, his fundamental existence has validity. He is now faced with a deep disappointment, a sudden fear throwing his fragmented existence out of control. The "something" that threatens is the court. The individual's consciousness of reality is relaxed has lost its grip on appearance with the threatening description of the court. The world seems to be broken into fragments, the courts, individual lives; women lead their own lives. There is no convergence of interests and attitudes. Bleak and dreary, out of these fragments, the new reality, which emerges, is unfamiliar and threatening intruding on the ego in new forms. K.'s ego seems to be driven against the wall, surrounded by something stronger than itself. The Trial’ here is also the consciousness of the empty shell and futility of everybody, selfish individual existence, scraping for any means to survive socially and economically.
The novel ends on K.'s realization that he has to meekly submit to the execution. He develops a growing strength in the act of dying.
The protagonist tries to free himself from his guilt, though he does not know
what the guilt is. There is no joy in the act of living. The courts call
was that of a divine call. His trial shows that he was imprisoned, not
able to bring out his own "self" or his spiritual identity.
The freedom that he longs for is the deliverance of his self. He is fed
up of his routine existence. Dog-like submission (like Blocks’) is the
only answer to religious hope. Kafka presents a frightening world where
conscious life is going out of control. Like so many of Kafka's portrayals
K. ends up, negating life without any hope.
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. 09 May 2017