Why is Kafka's short story "The Judgment" universal in terms of its application?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Judgement" by Franz Kafka is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young man who faces his father's harsh judgment and is sentenced to drowning. It finds a universal application through its Oedipal and religious themes.

It is, in a way, not to be reminded of the Garden of Eden, in...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

"The Judgement" by Franz Kafka is a semi-autobiographical tale of a young man who faces his father's harsh judgment and is sentenced to drowning. It finds a universal application through its Oedipal and religious themes.

It is, in a way, not to be reminded of the Garden of Eden, in which Adam and Eve are judged and condemned by God and ultimately condemned for eating the forbidden fruit. In both Genesis––particularly the tale of the Garden of Eden––and "The Judgement," there is a universal feeling of guilt. In addition, there is the universal theme of being judged and condemned by a father figure, whether it be a literal father like Georg's in "The Judgement" or the Father of the Universe in the Bible. Georg's condemnation to being drowned in the river can serve as a metaphor for any fate that befalls man.

"The Judgement" ultimately serves as a tale of guilt or dueling moralities. Where the father expects one thing, Georg expects something else of himself. He cannot fill the father's expectations and is consequently forced to die. The father, of course, can stand in as a metaphor for many other things, whether it be a government, society, a divine force, or even an individual's subconscious!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team