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English Literature

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Study Notes for BA and MA students of English Literature.

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    Franz Kafka: THE TRIAL Unit I: Franz Kafka: Life and Works Structure: 1.0 Objective 1.1 Kafka: His Life 1.2 Kafka: His Works 1.3 Summing Up 1.0 OBJECTIVE In this unit an attempt will be made to introduce Franz Kafka, one of the greatest novelists of the last century. He was a very influential artist. It is necessary for the students to have an understanding of the socio-cultural background of the artist and his works. It will help them contextualizing Kafka and his works. 1.1 KAFKA: HIS LIFE Franz Kafka was born on July 3, 1883 in Prague, which was then part of Austria. His father Hermann Kafka was a bully, with whom Kafka had a strained relation. The authoritarian shopkeeper father impressed the boy as an awesome figure. His mother Julie (Löwy) Kafka belonged to one of the leading families among the German-speaking Jewish minority in Prague. 1
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    Kafka had three sisters, all of whom died in Nazi camps during the Second World War. The feeling of powerlessness and weakness was a syndrome that became a persistent theme in his fiction. In the German high school in Prague Kafka proved to be a good student and in 1901 he entered Ferdinand-Karls University to study law. He received a law degree in 1906. This enabled him to secure a living; Side by side he could manage to get some time for writing. He soon found an employment with Workers' Accident Insurance institution, where he continued till the beginning of 1917 when tuberculosis forced him to take repeated sick leaves. He finally retired in 1922 and passed away on June 3, 1924. During his life Kafka had affairs with a number of women who include Felice Bauer - a twenty-four-year-old businesswoman from Berlin, Milena Jesenska a Christian Czech, Dora Diamant, and Julie Wohryzek. Of these ladies Felice Bauer and Julie Wohryzek were Kafka's fiancée. 1.2 KAFKA: HIS WORKS None of Kafka's novels was published during his lifetime. He published rather grudgingly a fraction of his shorter fiction. This fiction included Meditation, a collection of short prose pieces; The Judgment, a long short story, written in 1912 and The Metamorphosis. Kafka's instruction to his friend Max Brod was to destroy his manuscripts after his death. Brod however decided otherwise and published them. The best known of the posthumous works are three fragmentary novels The Trial, The Castle and Amerika. Kafka began his second novel, Der Prozess (The Trial) in 1914. As far as the title and chapter divisions of the novel Kafka's friend Max Brod observes: "The manuscript has no title. But in speaking of it Kafka always referred to it as The Trial. For the division into chapters as well as the chapter headings Kafka is responsible... " As has already been pointed out Kafka requested his friend Brod to burn the manuscripts of his unpublished writings "unread and to the last page.' The Trial depicted the desperate attempts of Josef K. to escape terrifying events that start at his breakfast table. "Someone must have been spreading lies about Josef K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one morning. " The morning was a special one — the morning of his thirtieth birthday. Josef K. refutes his guilt, and starts continuous inquiries of the court 2
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    system. But finally he fails to arrive at any truth and he dies "like a dog.' that Kafka was 'the voice of the 20th century' 1.3 suMMING UP W. H. Auden observed In this unit we have tried to give some preliminary information regarding the life and works of Franz Kafka. It will a kind of prelude to the more intense and focused study of The Trial as a novel — its meaning and significance. 3
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    Unit 11: THE TRIAL Structure 2.0 Objective 2.1 The Trial: Setting 2.2 The Trial: Plot Structure 2.3 The Trial: Theme 2.4 The Trial: Characters 2.0 OBJECTIVE In this unit we shall offer some basic information regarding the play. The setting or background of the action will be given and the plot structure of the novel will be explained. An attempt will also be made to elaborate the theme of the novel and introduce its characters to the students. 2.1 THE TRIAL: SETTING The story is set in the early twentieth century. The atmosphere is urban although the novel is not situated in any specific city. Most of the episodes take place in offices, courtrooms and furnished 4
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    drawing rooms. The major part of the action takes place in the labyrinth of courtrooms with its hallways and passages. In this novel the courts, which are normally associated with authority and power, are located in an impoverished, dingy and shabby neighborhood. The cathedral plays an important part of the plot. Nature is used at times as a background with sunshine and rain, daylight and darkness to highlight the contrasts. 2.2 THE TRIAL: PLOT STRUCTURE The plot pivots round the protagonist, K.'s arrest and his attempts to get out of an old, authoritarian mechanical system. This is at the surface level. Kafka is also a social chronicler who records his observations on the Czech legal system. The story is also crowded with characters, each with his own individuality, but who fall into the system whether they like it or not. The characters are arranged in an hierarchical order, starting from the judge down to an isolated painter, is carefully arranged. At another level, the story may be regarded as a representation of the Christian idea of the fallen man and his sense of guilt. The accused is never told of the nature of his guilt for which he is being convicted. Not a single trial is held in agreement with the provisions of justice. In such a system, Huld, the old, decrepit lawyer assumes the role of the enormous figure of divinity. But he also has his limitations. Without being aware of what his fault is, K. reacts as a guilty man. He refuses to surrender to the heavenly will. His end is brought about by the collapse of his fight. The novel is open-ended. K. dies because death is better than an existence without faith. Does he die because he finds himself deficient in his power to resist? Or is his death an allegory? K. is put to death at a place, a pit which may symbolize the sacrificial altar. This reminds one of primitive tales. The shine of the warder's sword sparkles in the beginning of the tale, foreshadowing the bleak ending. The plot is full of metaphors, superstitions, myths, and fables. The time duration in the novel is one year-- from K.'s thirtieth to his thirty-first birthday. But time is not maintained chronologically in the story. There is regular change of seasons or periods like afternoon, morning, night. The story is cinematic, with realistic details of spaces and rooms, of the painters attic, the maze of court rooms, the lawyers house, the rooms in Frau Grubach's lodging and of 5
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    course the office and the chapel. Changes in light and shade give an artistic effect to the whole tale. 2.3 THE TRIAL: THEME The theme focuses on the central character's inability to reach his inner self. The court's summon is emblematic of a call for a higher spiritual life. The protagonist resists submitting to this force. Instead he holds on to laws in conscious life. The 'trial' also deals with totalitarian politics and the illogical bureaucracy, which is evident in modern living. It is evident almost in every profession, both private and public. In keeping with the Judaic tradition the book is a commentary on the system. It is not a merely a criticism of the Judiciary. It concerns Kafka's thirst for truth, for creating something universal and his desire to create a world which will not be ruled by destiny alone and will be free from human contradictions. There are these two opposing trends one of human and the other of fate. The theme is not concerned with the everyday commonplace activities and events of an otherwise traditional novel. It deals with rather an odd kind of culpability, where the guilt is not specific. The reader and the protagonist, K. are trapped in the trial. The trial apparently promises a lot of hope, but actually there is hardly anything hopeful for an undertrial. He is condemned to live the life of an accused and convicted criminal. This is the metaphysical aspect of Judaism, which the novel proposes to convey. The central character tries to free himself from the charges of guilt, though he does not know what his fault or lapse really is. There is no pleasure in the act of living. The theme is negative and depressing. The labyrinthine legal system is actually a mockery of the bureaucracy. It is a satire on the modern condition of government and its different organs and services. It also points to the poor condition of the officials who resort to various types of corruption including bribery. The judges and K. himself are corrupt even sexually. In a strange way it also delineates the fallen man who has the freedom to be a culprit. That would be Kafka's masterly stroke. At the end of the novel K. 's problem remains unanswered. K. continues to believe that he is not guilty though the system considers him to be on the wrong side of the law. 6
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    2.4 CHARACTERS Joseph K. — the only major character in the novel He is the protagonist of the novel. He is the chief clerk in a bank. He is in constant search for justice but ultimately all his efforts fail as the corrupt courts could not deliver him any justice. Minor Characters (Male): Franz and William: two warders who arrest K. Rabensteiner, Kaminer, Kullich: K 's colleagues in the bank. Lanz, The Captain: Frau Grubach's nephew. He becomes Fräulein Bürstner's friend following K' s fall from her grace after his arrest. Herr Hastier: K. 's lawyer. He does not really play any role. The Usher: The usher's job is to announce the people entering the courtrooms. He is thoroughly conversant with the details of the court affairs. He is tolerant and cunning by nature. The Examining Magistrate: a pretentious person. He makes a show of sincerity in the presence of the usher's wife. Like other court officials he is also corrupt. Most of the law books and files are never opened gather dust. He uses the usher's wife. Financially he is not well off. The Clerk of Inquired: He represents the information bureau. He is a very patient man who believes that the court officials are amiable and sincere. The Inspector:He is the officer who comes to arrest K along with Franz and Willem who work under him. He is polite to K. although K makes a complaint against him at court. The Whipper: He is obdurate and carries out orders blindly. He mercilessly whips the warders Franz and Willem with a bird rod. Albert Karl: K. 's uncle, much concerned about K. He takes K. to the chief Magistrate Huld so that he may take up K' s case. The Chief Clerk of the Court: He visits Herr Huld, who is not fit physically, to keep him informed of all the cases which come up in the court. The Assistant Manager: He knows K. 's insecure position. While K is busy attending his cases in the court he takes advantage of K' s frequent absence from office and practically tries to grab his business deals. 7
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    The Manufacturer: He is a businessman and contacts K. in his office on an official transaction. He tells K that he also has cases pending in court against him. It is he who introduces the painter to K. Titorelli: He has good contacts with a number of judges, as he paints their portraits. He has detailed knowledge of court proceedings. K has to buy his paintings in order to get his help. Block-the Tradesmen: another client of Huld. He is friendly to Leni and appears humble and docile. He has engaged five lawyers to fight his case. He offers k some professional advice. He is treated like a dog by Huld. Italian Colleague: a valued customer of the bank. K. is entrusted with the responsibility to deal with him and acts as the mediator leading him to the cathedral. The Chaplain: He sermonizes K. in the Cathedral to make him aware of his guilt before he goes down any further. The two men: They finally kill K at the end. Minor Characters (Women): Frau Grubach: the landlady of the house in which K is a boarder. Fräulein Bürstner: another boarder in Frau Grubach's house. She is acquaintance and lives in the room next to that of K. A young woman: She is the usher's wife and lives in the courtrooms. She is simultaneously engaged in affairs with the examining magistrate and a student. They bribe her with gifts. The girl in the Courtroom: She is an employee of the courts and takes K. and the usher to the clerk of inquiries. She helps K. when he almost faints. Fräulein Montag: Fräulein Bürstner's friend. She is not impressive in her appearance. She is rather cunning and replaces Fräulein Bürstner as K.'s neighbour. K. does not like her. Erna: Uncle Karl's daughter. She is a responsible woman and tries to guard K. She informs her father of his situation. Leni: Herr Huld's nurse. She flirts with every client who visits him. 2.5 SUMMING UP In this unit we have discussed in some detail the setting or background of the novel against which actions take place and develop. We have also discussed the theme and plot structure of the 8
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    work. Since some ideas about the characters are required to realize who the prime movers of the actions are, we have introduced them in this unit. Unit 3: CHAPTERWISE SUMMARY AND CRITICAL APPRAISAL Structure 3.0 Objective 3.1 Chapterwise Summary 3.2 Critical Appraisal 3.3 Summing Up 9
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    3.0 OBJECTIVE In this unit we shall give chapterwise summary of the novel and then proceed to explain some of the intricate aspects of the novel. 3.1 CHAPTERWISE SUMMARY Chapter-I As the novel opens, Joseph K., the protagonist of the story is arrested. The time is morning and the day is K' s thirtieth birthday. He is waiting for his breakfast and when it does not come he rings for the cook. But the cook does not come and instead two warders, Franz and Willem enter the room and arrest K. He initially thinks that the whole thing is a joke by his colleagues on his birthday. But when he meets the inspector he tells him that the arrest is real although he does not specify the reason for his arrest. The inspector is seated in Fraulin Burstner's room next door and there he finds three men of his bank—Rebensteiner, Kaminer and Kullich. He greeted them indulgently before going out to work. After he comes back from his work he goes to his landlady Frau Grubach and apologizes for the morning disturbances in her house. She is unable to understand the reason for the reason for K' s arrest. K then goes to Fraulin Burstner's room to apologize to her as her room was occupied in the morning by the inspector. She is not in her room and the landlady expresses her disapproval of Fraulin Burstner by referring to her nocturnal promenades with young men. K expostulates and tries to defend Fraulin. K goes to bed but is unable to sleep. Fraulin returns home around 11.30 P.M. and K goes to her room to talk about the morning incident. She shows little interest in what K says. K 's conversation, at times high pitched may have disturbed the other boarders in the house and a knock is heard on the door of the hall. K apologizes to Fraulin and gets up to go to his room but before his final departure he kisses her madly. 10
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    Chapter-Il Joseph K gets a phone call telling him the address where he is to go on Sunday for an enquiry into his case. No specific time for his appearance is mentioned. He goes to the address on Sunday and on reaching there around 10 A.M. he finds that the building is a big tenement house. There is no distinguishing feature in the building which may indicate that this is the right apartment where the court will sit. K wonders through the building and finally with the help of a laundry woman finds the court of enquiry. The court room is already crowded with grave and important looking men. K is led to a platform on the other side of the room. He is rebuked by the judge or the examining magistrate for being late. His cool reply to the judge's bashing causes laughter in the audience. Encouraged by this K goes on to talk about the corrupt practice of the court and talks in detail about his own arrest. The audience in the court room is divided into two halves and while the one half greets K' s words with applause the other half shows no reaction. K makes a gesture of open defiance of the judiciary by seizing the magistrates notebook and dropping it on the table with disdain. K is interrupted by a scream from the back of the hall and sees a man pressing the woman he saw outside the courtroom. K finds that the two divisions of the audience have become one and their difference of attitude has disappeared. At the end all of them appear to him as the corrupt officials of the court and he calls them 'scoundrels'. The magistrate tells him that by showing open disrespect to the court he has thrown away his opportunity to get justice. Chapter Ill K expects a second summon from the court but when it does not come he decides to visit the court next Sunday On reaching the same apartment he is told by the washer woman that the courtroom is empty as there is no session of the court on that day. The woman, however, apologizes to K for the disturbance last week and tells K that it is due to a young law student Bertold, who is after her. K goes inside the court room and finds on the table of the magistrate some books on erotica. The woman tells him that she can be of some help to him as the magistrate recently has been showing an interest in her. Meanwhile the law student has entered the room and after having an intimate conversation with the woman he lifts the woman and 11
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    carries the woman off much to the chagrin of Joseph. He chases them to free the woman from his clutches but the woman declines. K stands defeated. The woman's husband, the usher complains to k about the affair and wants K to get his wife back to him. K hesitates as the law student may be in a position to influence his case. The usher takes K through the labyrinth of dark and stifling offices to the law office and they get to a long narrow lobby. K sees in the lobby various accused men waiting. He feels suffocated inside the place and requests the usher to take him out of the place. The usher does not oblige and finally k is helped by two a woman and a man the clerk of Inquiries, who guides him to the threshold of the office. K is very much disturbed and resolves not to come again. Chapter—IV K tries to talk to Fraulin Burstner but his every attempt fails. She is not ready to talk to him or meet him personally. He writes a letter to her to which no reply comes. On the other hand, K sees Fraulin Montag, a French teacher is becoming close to her. On a Sunday Montag is allowed entry into Fraulin Burstner's room. K draws the attention of his landlady, Frau Grubach to this and she admits the mutuality of relationship between Fraulin Burstner and Fraulin Montag. Fraulin Montag informs K that Fraulin Burstner does not want to meet him. K sees that the Captain, Frau Grubach' s nephew and Montag coming into an intimate relationship. Chapter V A few days later at the time of entering his office K hears a horrible scream coming from a little storeroom. He opens the door to find out that the two warders, Franz and Willem, who originally arrested him, are being whipped mercilessly by another person. The warders are punished because K complained about their behaviour during his final interrogation. K tries to bribe the flogger to spare the warders from being whipped. A terrible shriek from one of the warders drives K out of the room. In answer to the query made by one of the clerks in the bank K says that the noise is nothing but the howling of a dog. When K walks in to the bank next day he cannot help looking in. He finds the same men the flogger and the warders inside the storeroom. K slams the door and orders the storeroom to be cleaned out. 12
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    Chapter—VI Joseph K' s uncle Karl comes to visit K in his office. He is very mush concerned about the case in which K is implicated. He is not satisfied with the way in which K is handling the whole thing. He takes K with him to a lawyer of his acquaintance. The lawyer Herr Huld is on his sick bed but shows much interest in K' s case about which he is already informed. The chief clerk of the court is also there and he also joins the discussion. Joseph, however, shows little interest in the discussion; rather he is interested in Leni, the young nurse of the lawyer. The communication with the lawyer is interrupted by a loud sound of a crash and k gets up to see what has happened. He finds that Leni has deliberately broken some crockery to draw his attention, Leni takes K to the study of the lawyer where pointing to a portrait of a person K wants to know the identity of the person. Leni says that he just an examining magistrate and asks K to shun his rigid attitude. She tells K to love her but K initially shows no interest pointing out that he is much preoccupied with his own case. He also shows her a picture of her girl friend, Elsa. K kisses the hand of Leni and Leni drags him to the floor. She gives a key to K and tells him to come to her whenever he feels like. K 's uncle chides him for remaining absent for such a long time which has adversely affected the fate of his case. Chapter—VII K is absolutely dissatisfied with the progress of his case. In fact there is hardly any progress. The lawyer, K feels, is virtually doing nothing and on the other hand, tries to convince K that he is doing whatever is necessary for his case. K feels frustrated and impatient and fails to concentrate on his work. In the bank he cannot attend the customers. The asst. manager of the bank, whom he thinks as his rival, comes to attend the customers, among whom there was an especially important manufacturer. The manufacturer tells K that he knows about K' s case and gives him a friendly advice. He tells to K to meet a painter, Titorelli, from whom he has come to know about K' s case. Titorelli may be able to help K and he writes a letter of recommendation for K to the painter. K decides to meet the painter without any delay. The businessmen who were waiting in the bank to meet K are not happy as K does not have the time to attend them. The painter lives in a dingy sordid part of the city. K finds that the building in which the painter lives is a ramshackle, stuffy apartment. K meets the painter in his tiny studio. As he enters the 13
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    painter's apartment he finds it surrounded by a bunch of nosy, young girls interested to know about K. Titorelli welcomes K and expresses his disapproval about the girls outside his apartment. He locks the door and they talk about the case. K pleads his innocence but the painter says that the court is not going to be convinced by his words. The painter is actually an official court painter and provides K more information about the ways of the court. He talks to K about three possible acquittals i) actual or definite acquittal, ii) apparent acquittal, iii) protraction or indefinite postponement. The first kind of acquittal is the best but nobody is blessed with this kind of verdict. The second may be hoped for. It is an acquittal granted by the lower court which at any moment can be revoked by the higher court and the person may be arrested again. Thus it needs continuous petitioning to avoid arrest. The third one, in a way, keeps the case at its initial stage by continuous deferment of the case. It needs continuous attention and activity to prevent the case from coming to sentencing. K feels exhausted listening to all these words and the stuffy room appears to him suffocating. He gets up to leave. Titorelli convinces him to buy some of his landscape paintings. He leads K through the backdoor as the girls are still sitting outside the front door. The back door leads to a lobby which, K finds to his surprise, is the hallway of the law office that he has already visited. He is escorted out by an usher. He comes back to his office and hides the paintings in his desk. Chapter—VIN Though a rather tough decision, K decides to discharge the lawyer from handling his case. One night he goes to the lawyer's house. The door is opened by a stranger, a bearded wreck of a person in his shirt-sleeves. It does not escape K' s notice that Leni rushes to another room in her nightgown. He wants to ascertain if the little man is Leni's lover. The man replies in the negative. His mane is Block, the tradesman, and he is a client of the lawyer. Block takes K to the kitchen where Leni is busy preparing the lawyer's soup. K is still suspicious of the relationship between the man and Leni but they manage to dispel his suspicions. Block appears to be too wretched a creature. Leni goes to the lawyer with his soup. K enquires to Block about his case. Block agrees to tell K his secrets on condition that he would not reveal those secrets to anyone. The lawyer is revengeful and Block, in his turn, has not been very faithful. He has been knocking the door of the lawyer for five years and has almost spent his energy and resources. He tells K that he has engaged five hack lawyers in addition to Herr Huld. Block also informs K that the 14
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    great lawyers" who are in great demand among the accused men are actually inaccessible and unknown. Meanwhile Leni comes back and K treats her with usual harshness. She reveals that Block sleeps in the house because the lawyer behaves in a most whimsical manner and one never knows when he will agree to meet Block. When K gets up to meet the lawyer Block reminds him of his condition. K assures him and declares that he is going to dismiss the lawyer. Both Leni and Block tries to dissuade K from doing that. K enters the room of the lawyer and tells him of his decision. The lawyer wants K to reconsider his decision. K expresses his disgust about the way the case is being handled. The lawyer makes a last attempt to convince K. he tells K how accused men are normally treated, so that he might understand how fortunate he is. Huld sends Leni to summon the tradesman, Block. K. observes how the man is humiliated by the two and how he mutely accepts his humiliation. The lawyer has absolute power over Block who has entirely subjugated himself to the lawyer. Chapter—IX K is entrusted with the responsibility of escorting an influential Italian client to the city's places of interest. Recently k has been given many assignments that keep him away from his work. He suspects if these are deliberately being planned to keep him busy while the assistant manager will get the opportunity to meddle with his affairs. K tries to sincerely attend to his duties in the bank to keep his reputation intact. K arrives at the bank early so that he may attend the Italian guest timely. He feels tired as on the previous night he was trying to grapple with Italian grammar so that he feels comfortable to talk to the Italian. The manager, who can speak Italian, introduces the visitor to K. The guest has little time and will not go to all the places. It is decided that K will meet him at the cathedral at 10'0 clock. K. utilizes the time to read Italian grammar, keeping in mind the fact that it may be of help for him to talk something about the cathedral. Almost on the point of leaving the office, Leni calls to tell him that they are 'goading' him. K. is annoyed to hear this but as he hangs up he rather agrees with her. He arrives at the cathedral and waits. The Italian has not turned up. K. continues to wait for quite sometime but the man does not come. As it is raining outside, K. walks around the cathedral and leafs through a picture album that he has brought with him. K sees a caretaker who gestures at K to follow him. K starts following him but soon desists and comes back to the nave to sit. A preacher appears although it is not the usual time for a sermon. Apart from K and the caretaker there is no other person 15
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    present. K. feels like returning to the office as it would be difficult to leave once the priest starts giving sermons. He walks towards the exit bur hears a voice calling out his name. Initially he pretends not to hear it but finally turns to engage the priest. Surprisingly he finds that the priest is no other than the prison chaplain who is connected with the court. He has summoned K to this place to tell him that his case is not progressing satisfactorily. It may remain indefinitely in the lower courts. K. thinks that the chaplain's intentions may be good. He hopes that the chaplain may advice him in regard to continuous postponement of his case. On K 's request the chaplain comes down from the pulpit. During his discussion with the chaplain K comes to know about the strange ways of the court. He says that "the court wants nothing from you. It receives you when you come and dismisses you when you go.' Chapter—X Two warders in coats and hats come for Joseph K on his thirty first birthday. They ask K to go with them. In the street the two warders hold the arms of K firmly. The three of them move together and at one point of time K decides to resist forcing the warders to drag him. He sees someone like Fraulein Burstner walks across the square. He feels that any move to resist will not be successful and tries to keep him mentally alert till the end. During the journey, a policeman tries to stop them but somehow they manage to escape. They walk out of town and come to a deserted quarry. There the two men strip K to the waist and places him against a bolder. The warders pass the knife back and forth and want K to grab the knife and stab himself. K does not do it. He notices a figure in the window of a nearby house looking at them. He wonders as to who it could be. K makes a final gesture trying to point to the figure in the window. One of the warders holds K while the other pierces the knife in his heart. They watch him as K makes a dying exclamation: "'Like a dog! ' he said; it was as if the shame of it must outlive him. 3.2 THE TRIAL: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL 16
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    The Trial is one of the great works of twentieth century dystopian literature with its presentation of a totalitarian society where a government organization or agency, in this case the court system, has limitless power to persecute, arrest, and eventually to put to death individuals. The novel deals with the ideals of individual liberty and free will. The story sets in motion with the surprise arrest of Joseph K. , the bank clerk. It is an odd kind of arrest as there is apparently no reason for his arrest. K. repeatedly wanted to know the reason for his arrest but neither the two warders nor the inspector could give him the answer. He is allowed to get in touch with his lawyer, Hasterer and also allowed to go to work in the bank. He is unexpectedly thrown into a horrified world of wolves. When he is summoned to the first interrogation, he goes willingly, although he does not hide his disrespect towards the people assembled to hear his cross- examination. The following week, he again appears without having been asked. Kafka thus demonstrates a human propensity to submit to power, even when that power is doubtful. Joseph K. doesn't question the legality of the case, the courts, or the law system that he has supposedly disobeyed. And it's vital to remember that at no time during the novel does Joseph - or the reader - learn what the charge against K. is. However, this detail slowly loses significance as the story moves forward - a fact that should rouse indignation in both characters and readers, but which eventually fails to do so. Once Joseph K. admits his case, he is wrapped up into the mechanism of a system he can never hope to comprehend or control. Finding himself in the perplexing position of being "arrested but free," he first tries to clear the odd charges brought against him. Later on, when he understands this is not possible, he spends his remaining days trying to postpone his case. But here too, he fails to achieve his objective. Joseph K' s decides to directly confront the legal system. His visits to the Court attics are upset by his incapacity to elicit any information; he even fails to find out his way around without surrendering to the humiliating, sunless atmosphere. He does not find the offices in time for his first interrogation, and finds all access shut to his succeeding investigations. Nevertheless, he continues his efforts, and by the end of the novel he fires his lawyer. The lawyer advices him to "lie low" but K refuses to listen to the advice of the lawyer. It is K' s refusal to accept the nature of the system that makes him powerless to play by its rules. 17
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    No actual trial takes place in the novel. The procedures which are usually associated with a trial such as defense, prosecution, witness, and verdict never really occurs. K.'s trial here appears to be one of apparently never-ending bureaucratic exercises. The novel ends abruptly with a very brief chapter entitled "The End." After all of the bureaucratic maneuvers, romantic diversions, and talks on law and art, Josef K. is summarily put to death on his birthday. K.'s execution is a corroboration of the novel ' s theme of the abuse of power and authority. The novel may be interpreted from an allegorical point of view. It is not possible to live outside the authority of the courts. In the novel the court is both a seen and unseen presence. The description of the court is the only menace affecting the individuals' perception of truth. K. is confused by its doubtful facade, absurdity of meaning and its real objectives. The flight of steps and walkways that lead K. to court is puzzling, the baffling crossroads are emblematic of the perplexities of human life. The courtrooms are stuffy, located in dirty attics. The cases in such courts are never settled. The court again stands for an additional threat to an individual 's private space over which he has got no control. The court officials are poor paid and dishonest. In this court K' s experience is that both law and justice are difficult to get to. K. feels that man cannot be held accountable for his own deeds in a world where there is so much of disorder and chaos. Heavenly guidance and godly justice are not to be seen. The soul has itself been distorted by the tainted environment in the modern age. The strange ways of the court point to the fact that man has lost his way in a fated world. The human being is rudderless and is incapable of receiving any guidance from the absolute. Man's whole life has been a trial. It's a strange world where man is held responsible for things he has not done. He is asked to justify actions which he has never undertaken. This seems to be the predicament of modern living. The court is represented through a series of images. There is the repressive and suffocating atmosphere and K feels dizzy and nauseous until he comes out into the clean air outside. He feels resilient as if he has struggled out of the sea and is back on the shore. The other imagery is that of sanitation and washing. The excessive act of cleaning is repulsive. There is constant scrubbing and clean-up going on everywhere. On the one hand there are wash- tubs and laundry spread on clothesline, on the other hand dust is piling up everywhere and the court offices are full of filth and rubbish. 18
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    The lawyers do not have much role to play in the trial. Almost the whole thing depends on the accused. The indicted person can get an advantage being detached from the mundane state of affairs by opting for a resolute choice and thereby gain morally. The powers of Fate or Fortune cannot be changed. Human assistance comes in the form of the legal advice from the lawyers. The court exercises a control over the advocates, as much as the human spirit is guided by a super power. The lawyers signify the tendency of doubt in an intellectual who fails to defend himself and avoid the course of a trial, which has already been directed by an invisible providence. Besides it is not within his capacity to stir up enough power and gusto to alter its course. The fated path of the trial is representative of a veiled spiritualism, a gut feeling something that is not conspicuous beyond being answerable for life on earth. The Advocates also symbolize heavenly grace. The plaintiffs look forward to them with a lot of expectations. K. is divided between two positions - his place as an officer at the bank and the confused, messy world of the court of law. And these two worlds or positions are inextricably interlinked. K.'s stance towards life is demonstrated in the position he holds in his office. His profession, his commercial plans, his business strategy follow the traditional pattern of practical modern living and also reflect his ethics as a human being. The trial demonstrates his great effort and at the same times his helplessness to come out of the labyrinthine process of law. K. is the victim of illusion in presupposing the workings of the court; he grumbles and disapproves of the ways in which the legal system works. His disapproval of the court is, in a way, a disapproval of the life around him. For the perplexity and confusion of the modern world K does not hold individuals responsible. But his personal belief is thwarted when he is arrested for which no one else can be held responsible. He does not understand this since he does not pay attention to his inner consciousness. His arrest compels him to recognize the real situation around him and also to contemplate over the justification of life itself. The more he wants to run away from the court the more he is dragged to it as he fails to understand the court's working. From the moment he is arrested K tries to prove himself innocent and that ironically goes against him. If some one is not guilty then why should one try to seek legal aid to prove him innocent? He is deceived and does not care for the court's advice. In the final chapter K. is put to death in a stone quarry which is emblematic of the sacrificial altar. His dying like a dog symbolizes the death of the animal consciousness. He dies without spiritual enlightenment. The priest offers to give K the spiritual 19
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    insight which he rejects and ultimately has to give in. He has lived a bachelor's life but his desire to enjoy the company of the other sex is clear from the fact that he has affairs with a number of women. Unfortunately woman like Fräulein Bürstner remains beyond his reach. The spiritual void in his life allegorically symbolizes the blankness in modern living. He says no to the divine will. His end is brought about by the collapse of his resistance. The trial is not just a trial in the legal sense, it also suggests K' s struggle for the deliverance of his self. Kafka's style is unquestionably humorous, making it moves through irony and sarcasm rather than through severe or harsh language. The presentation of odd and unusual situations through straightforward and simple language as if these strange situations were quite common ones ironically increases the absurdity of the situation. The reader often finds himself laughing at horrific and terrible scenes such as when the two warders are mercilessly flogged by a person. Sure, one feels bad for being an awful human being, just as one might feel bad at laughing at somebody who slips or stumbles, instead of politely asking him if he needs any assistance. But laughter plays an important function in helping the reader maintain an analytical attitude toward the events of the novels. Unlike K. or any of the other characters, one feels like indulging in laughter at the trial because of its absurdities and strangeness, even while one trembles at the images of punishment. At the end of the novel one may speculate as to what could be K 's fault to deserve such an extreme punishment. The only failing of K in the novel seems to be either overconfidence or sexual promiscuity. K. finally refuses to kill himself. This denial may suggest that perhaps his punishment comes as a legal retribution for his non-compliance with the rule of the court which does not tolerate any individual preference. K.'s last words perhaps indicate the inhumanity of the court and legal administration. 3.4 SUMMING UP In this unit we have given summary of the chapters of the novel and then explained the significance of different aspects of the novel. This will help students having a clear idea about the critical aspects of the work. 20
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    Unit 4: QUESTIONS AND BIBLIOGRAPHY Structure 4.0 Objective 4.1 Questions 4.2 Further Reading 21
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    4.3 Webliography 4.4 Summing Up 4.0 OBJECTIVE In this last unit we shall give some questions set on the basis of the materials we have provided in this unit. In order to help the students to do further study on the novel we have also provided a bibliography and a webliography. 4.1 QUESTIONS a) Justify the title of Kafka's novel The Trial. b) Do you think that The Trial can be read as an allegory? Elucidate your view. c) Assess the character of Joseph K. d) Comment critically on the theme of justice as represented in the novel The Trial. 4.2 FURTHER READING Anders, G. Franz Kafka (London: Bowes and Bowes, 1960) Kundszus, W. , "Changing Perspectives in The Trial and The Castle", in: Flores, A. (ed.), The Kafka Debate. New Perspectivesfor our Time (New York: Gordian Press, 1977), pp. 385-95 Marson, E. , Kafka's 'Trial '. The Case Against Joseph K. (St. Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press, 1975) Rolleston, J. (ed.), Twentieth Century Interpretations of 'The Trial A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1976) 22
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    Sheppard, R. 'The Trial, The Castle. Towards an Analytical Comparison', in: Flores, A. (ed.), The Kafka Debate. New Perspectives for our Time (New York: Gordian Press, 1977), pp. 396- 417 Sokel, W. , 'The Programme of K.' s Court. Oedipal and Existential Meanings of The Trial' in: Kuna, F. (ed.), On Kafka. Semi-centenary Perspectives (London: Paul Elek, 1976), pp. 1-21 Speirs, R. and Sandberg B. Franz Kafka (London: Macmillan, 1997) Stern, J.P., 'The Law of The Trial', in: Kuna, F. (ed.), On Kafka. Semi-Centenary Perspectives (London: Paul Elek, 1976), pp. 22-41 4.3 SELECT WEBLIOGRAPHY http://www.suite101.com/content/the-trial-by-franz-kafka-a23554 http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/trial/ http://www.shmoop.com/the-trial-kafka/literary-devices.html http://www.studyworld.com/newsite/reportessay/Literature/Novel%5CThe Trial- 381554.htm http://www.pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/monkeynotes/pmTria101.asp http://thebestnotes.com/booknotes/Trial Kafka/Trial Study Guide05.html http://www.shmoop.com/the-trial-kafka/symbolism-imagery.html http://www.scribd.com/doc/18623436/The-Trial-by-Franz-Kafka-Study-Guide http://www.helium.com/items/1297070-kafka-the-trial 4.4 SUMMING UP In this unit materials have been provided so that students might go beyond this study material to gather more information and insight from a number of other sources which would prove to be beneficial. 23
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    Prepared by: Dr Goutam Buddha Sural, Associate Professor & Head, Dept. of English (U.G. & P.G.), Bankura Christian College, Bankura. 24


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