Study Guide

The Castle

by Franz Kafka

The Castle Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Bridge

Bridge. Wooden bridge connecting the main approach to the village on which the protagonist, K., pauses in the opening moments of the novel. The bridge is a transitional point between K.’s previous life, about which only a few details are provided, and his new life in the village. For a long time he stands on the bridge, “gazing upward into the seeming emptiness.” Although K. is ostensibly a traveler with no immediately identifiable goal, his gaze upward into apparent emptiness foreshadows the presence of the castle.

Bridge Inn

Bridge Inn. Named after the bridge near which it stands, this inn is K.’s first point of contact with the villagers and the castle. His unannounced arrival creates suspicion among the peasants and elicits a rebuke by a castle official, who explains that he cannot stay on castle property without permission. The inn, normally a welcome place for travelers, instead becomes the initial source of K.’s alienation in the village.

Village

Village. Unnamed place in an unspecified country in which the narrative is centered. Franz Kafka never elucidates K.’s reasons for going to the village. Although K. claims to have been summoned there by the castle’s Count Westwest to do surveying work, he does not know, or pretends not to know, of the castle when an official interrogates him on his arrival. From the moment his position within the village is challenged, K. begins to defend his presence; he claims an affiliation with the castle in his capacity as a commissioned land surveyor and tries to legitimize his position by becoming engaged to Frieda, a barmaid at the Gentleman’s Inn who is the former mistress of Klamm, a high castle official.

The village also represents a community from which K. is excluded on the most fundamental levels. K. attempts to create a place for himself within that community, which leads him to his interminable and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to reach the castle.

Westwest’s Castle

Westwest’s Castle. The castle represents a legitimizing authority, whose approval is necessary for K.’s future as a citizen of the village. Throughout the novel, the castle is both the focus of his ambition and an enemy that must be conquered. His efforts to gain access to the castle and its officials resemble, in comic and tragic ways, the efforts of a knight to breach a fortress. That his goal is misplaced seems evident...

(The entire section is 1015 words.)

The Castle Literary Techniques

One of the broadest techniques used in The Castle is that of satire, directed both at the governmental bureaucracy and at the petit...

(The entire section is 169 words.)

The Castle Ideas for Group Discussions

The Castle has come to represent for many critics the image of state-controlled power, the abuse of which characterized the many...

(The entire section is 374 words.)

The Castle Social Concerns

If there is a connection between The Castle and the life lived by its author it must be located in two biographical facts: Because of...

(The entire section is 277 words.)

The Castle Literary Precedents

Obviously, The Castle in setting at least comes out of the romantic tradition of the gothic with its excessively expressive settings...

(The entire section is 165 words.)

The Castle Related Titles

The story of K. continues in The Castle and links this novel with The Trial and Amerika, Kafka's earliest, fragmentary...

(The entire section is 74 words.)

The Castle Adaptations

The Castle, a German-Swiss co-production of 1963 directed by Rudolf Noelte, may have had some distribution in Europe, but it received...

(The entire section is 215 words.)

The Castle Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Fickert, Kurt J. “Chapter IV: Castle and Burrow.” In Kafka’s Doubles. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang, 1979. A short but substantial work that provides new insights into Kafka’s careful creative process. Interprets The Castle as the author’s self-analysis.

Kraft, Herbert. “Being There Still: K., Land Surveyor, Stable-Hand, . . .” In Someone Like K.: Kafka’s Novels, translated by R. J. Kavanagh. Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen & Neumann, 1991. A positive assessment of K. as the antitype. Since there is no mass resistance, individuals must stand alone, but they can be perceived to be powerful. K. knows...

(The entire section is 268 words.)