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MonkeyNotes-The Trial by Franz Kafka
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Notes

The court officials are ill paid and corrupt. The accused and the guilty people seated there, have lost their resilience to fight. K. is repeatedly reassuring himself that he is not guilty while he goes to court. The underlying theme of the novel is also the breakdown of his resistance to fight. The metaphor of the stormy seas is used here to describe K.'s state.

The buzz of the siren sounding in his ear is nothing but the girl and the clerk talking to him. The siren is metaphor rendering the words as meaningless. The maze of staircases and closed doors makes him feel claustrophobic. K.'s reflections and those of the other characters appear like symbols of the confusion in this maze.

K.'s being summoned to court is a sign of his "sickness unto death" conscience. K.'s restlessness is symbolic of the unrest in the world and depicts our isolated and fragmented existence. There is an invisible hand behind this, which is manifest in the hand of the court, its intervention, refusal and denial and appearing "accidental".

In this court K. feels that both law and justice are inaccessible. K. feels that man cannot be responsible for his own actions in a world where there is so much of chaos and apparent injustice. Divine guidance and divine justice is seen in the distorting mirror of the human soul. The soul has itself been transformed by the changed conditions in the modern age. The courtsí strange scenes and symbols point to the man who has lost his way in a predestined world. The human spirit has no link and thus no guidance from the absolute.


Man's entire life has been a court of justice. Man cannot live without justifying his actions. He is responsible for everything.

The entire conscious world is spurred on by man's motivation- man who would like to linger and relax for a while. It also sums up the tenor of modern living.

There are a series of images, which give character to the courts. There is the oppressive claustrophobic stifling atmosphere and the idea of feeling giddy and seasick when K. emerges into the clean air outside, he does so with buoyancy as if he had bobbed up on the sea and reached the shore.

The other imagery is of cleanliness and laundering. Their cleanliness is disgusting. There is constant washing and cleaning going on everywhere. There are washtubs and laundry drying on clothesline. But there is also dirt piling up everywhere soot and smoke in the court offices. The earthly world of life, spilling into it, and also as the desire to cleanse itself.

The court has its double role as both theatrical comedy and reality. It is a comedy with court officials as puppets who carry out the orders of senior officials. Though Joseph K. is superior, his junior officials attack him. As the novel progresses the "theatrical comedy" leads to a negation of the reality. Hopes get diminished and truth emerges. The spiritual world is gaining ground. K. wants to cleanse himself as well. He feels innocent and guilty simultaneously.

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