Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


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. 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.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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.)


(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 what Amalia knows, but he also has the courage to act.

Neumeyer, Peter F., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of “The Castle”: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969. Part 1 contains ten so-called Interpretations; part 2 contains shorter View Points. A testimony to the astounding number of diverse and conflicting interpretations that The Castle has inspired.

Sheppard, Richard. On Kafka’s Castle: A Study. London: Croom Helm, 1973. A close reading of the novel, which is in many aspects convincing. A bourgeois interpretation; like the German critic Wilhelm Emrich, whose study of Kafka’s writing appeared in English translation in 1968, Sheppard tends to take the viewpoint of the villagers and is critical of K. for not settling down with Frieda.

Spann, Meno. “Chapter 9: The Castle.” In Franz Kafka. Boston: Twayne, 1976. A lucidly written essay that places the novel in the context of Kafka’s personal and literary development. Spann, one of the few critics receptive to Kafka’s sense of humor, offers a convincing interpretation of The Castle as a satire on bureaucracy.