The Last Judgment

by Karel Capek

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Last Updated on September 26, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 388

When God enters the courtroom as a witness, knowing all the good and bad of Ferdinand Kugler's life, the judges—humans, like Kugler himself—instruct God to keep to the facts that are relevant to Kugler's case. They do not want God to provide details or information that might distract from their task: to ascertain whether he is guilty of murder and ought to go spend eternity in hell. They even tell God at one point,

Witness, we are obliged to get on with the case. Has the accused committed murder?

Despite the fact that God feels certain details are relevant to the case—considering that a man's eternal fate is in question—the judges essentially shush him. Though they stand in his presence, they refer to him as "Witness" and instruct him on what to say and what not to say. This seems to show a lack of respect for God and shows that the judges are not interested in the whole man. They do not want to know, for instance, about the good things Kugler has done or the positive qualities he possessed in life. God says of Kugler,

[. . .] he was generous and often helpful. He was kind to women, gentle with animals, and kept his word. Am I to mention his good deeds?

The judges declare that learning about these good deeds and qualities is not "necessary." The judges only care about the bad things that Kugler did. His good qualities and deeds are immaterial to them, perhaps because they are human. God sees the entire person, the good and the bad, but people tend to only see or focus on the bad in other people. This is why God cannot judge men and women; only humans can judge other humans. God explains to Kugler how one man, an informer named Teddy, who was shot by Kugler, may have flaws, but that he's "otherwise" a "very good man." God cautions Kugler,

You shouldn't think of any person as being completely worthless.

Thus, humans are inclined to see only the bad in other people, coming to the conclusion that others are worthless because they have flaws or did something bad—perhaps even very bad—but God sees the value and the good in everyone, and so we do not, ultimately, deserve to be judged by him.

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