The Trial deals with such themes as guilt, judgment, and retribution, and although Kafka studied law himself, the novel is not really about the legal system nor is it only about that portion of the legal system which complements or exacerbates a more complex and pervasive psychological phenomenon characteristic of the human psyche. The trial in this novel is an inner one brought about by the guilt Joseph K., the central character, experiences once he has been arrested. Although he is not accused of any particular crime, he assumes a mantle of guilt which produces a cycle of self-condemnations, which, in turn, produce his internal trial. Joseph K. goes to his death never really understanding what he is accused of but the reader learns that his "crimes" are more in the nature of omissions than commissions. Joseph K. is devoid of love, alienated from nature, and deprived of the consolations of art, literature, and music. Furthermore, he does not even realize that he is missing all of these things and that compounds his crime.
Joseph K. is not totally without self-awareness, but until his arrest he seems unable to act on it. By then, of course, it is too late. The trial stresses Joseph K.'s weakness not only before the law but also before his own consciousness. Indeed it is this very level of awareness, fed by his education and middle-class life, with its connections to those in higher places, which prevents one from seeing Joseph K. as some sort of...
(The entire section is 301 words.)
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A central element of Judeo-Christian theology is the belief that humans are guilty of original sin. There are various ways to deal with this situation but in many theological doctrines, redemption and entry to heaven depend upon people leading moral lives. For Protestants, salvation is gained when the individual confesses to God. Assistance in this task comes from the Bible as well as through the teachings of those who spend their lives studying the Bible. In Judaism the book of God is the Torah, and literally speaking, God is the Law.
K.’s story takes place in a world familiar with this theology; yet this theology is changing. For example, the Calvinists’ theory of predestination, which is the belief that what you do in life does not matter since people have already been selected by God (before birth) for salvation, is evoked by K.’s situation. K. has been predestined for a judgment. In religious terms, this means he should accept his guilty nature and seek redemption in whatever form the court decides. Block has done so and has avoided death but has paid a humiliating price: he must forever run on all fours before a representative of the law.
K. resembles a character from the Old Testament named Job. Job is a wealthy man who steadfastly believes in God. One day, the devil makes a bet with God that, if allowed to do so, he can put Job’s faith on trial so that he curses God. The bet is on but despite all...
(The entire section is 1198 words.)