Probably, the very first thing you should think of is the circumstances which make you read or force you to read this novel. It’s quite okay if your friend advised you to do it. It’s much better if you yourself decided to read it. However, if it’s another assignment in Literature and your kind erudite professor chose this very book, then things might get a bit tougher for you.
So, our expert essay writers are here to discuss this novel by Franz Kafka together with you and prove that it is actually a great literary choice of yours or your friend, who recommended it to you, or your professor, who does know a thing or two.
To Write the Introduction: Overview the Plot and Real-Life Background
Ironically, Franz Kafka started to write The Trial in 1914, the year when World War I broke out. However, the author does not mention it at all. His protagonist, Josef K. is a chief cashier of a local bank, a mere mortal and bachelor, who lives an absolutely normal German life. Until the day he is told that he is arrested. Yet nobody explains him the reason of the arrest, nor brings any particular accusations against him, nor sends him to jail. He is just advised to appear in court on Sunday if he would like to.
This is where the whole thing starts. The understanding of the fact that someone decided to arrest him for something makes Josef wish to go and prove that he is innocent. But then, after he faces numerous challenges, he begins to look for the reasons why he might have been arrested, that is actually for the guilt he should not feel, as he did nothing worth accusations.
Indeed, Josef K. is not the hero of the war, but he is the hero of his time and, to some extent, the literary reflection of his creator. Franz Kafka is considered a Modernist and, what is more important to understand his works, the pioneer of Absurdist fiction. As a sensitive artist who lived in the very beginning of the 20th century, the time that was mercilessly ruining traditional moral and life values, he could not but express his personal concern over the way how it all influenced his contemporaries and his creative self.
Besides, we can see a witty metaphor in the very beginning of Josef’s story: his “arrest” can be related to Kafka’s real-life engagement to Felice Bauer. It is not that he did not love her or did not want to marry her. The main problem was that his actions, directed towards their common happiness, were not that successive. He himself was really delighted by her angel-like patience, but this delight could not prevent him from breaking off the engagement, making a proposal again, and again backing out. Eventually, Felice married another man, and Kafka probably somehow tried to justify his deeds and express his feelings on paper.
By the way, The Guardian once posted a very compelling article about his love story. You can use to get a better idea of his personality and hence the novel.
To Write the Body Part: Analyze the Themes and Muse over the Hidden Meanings
The original German title of the novel is Der Prozeß, which can be interpreted both as the trial itself and the whole process that precedes it. Actually, it even seems that the trial must be the climax or, maybe, the end of the story, while the narration prepares the reader for and leads them to it.
However, the author does not tell us a word about the trial as we imagine it. We are just offered “The End”, the final chapter which pictures Josef’s execution. No matter whether the reader expects it or not, they can see that some invisible power made the final decision and the seemingly innocent hero did not fight against it.
Is it fair? Is it absurd? We are going to consider three ideas which could help understand the author’s creative plan better.
Political Point of View
As Josef is trying to discover the truth about his arrest, he faces pure bureaucracy of the 20th century, which the modern reader can easily distinguish, as it is so typical for most, if not for all, societies of our world even nowadays. Some critics describe the style of presentation of totalitarian bureaucratic mechanisms in this novel as “kafkaesque”, highlighting the author’s original ironic approach to depicting them.
So, these powers arrogate to themselves the right to settle the fate of an individual, by forcing them to believe in what these powers say and killing them finally. The most terrible thing about it all is that this individual stays absolutely sure that his or her execution is well deserved.
Social Point of View
If we remember Kafka’s story, preceding his work on the book, we can see that his hero is a victim of circumstances. The author, however, does not make us sympathize or pity him. Nevertheless, we cannot but notice that as soon as the people around Josef find out that he was accused of something, they literally add fuel to the fire. None of his neighbors, colleagues, relatives says to him: ‘Hey, fellow, it’s just nonsense. Forget about it, and let’s go drink some beer’.
On the contrary, for some reason they start to believe in the decision of the invisible court of justice and thus make Josef even more convinced of his “guilt”. That is how the society influences the individual, taking away their freedom of thought and turning them into another gear of the huge mechanism.
Religious Point of View
Many critics claim that The Trial has a lot to do with religion and faith. The novel can be considered an allegory about relationship between a human being and divine will. The latter decides everything for us, no matter whether we like it or not. And somehow we once realize that this decision is right. Even if we try to resist it, the end will be the same anyway. Divine will, whatever we associate it with, does not need our justifications. It does not even need to judge us, as none of us is innocent.
To Write the Conclusion: Interpret the Discovered Ideas and Express Your Opinion
Generally, this novel is about human choice. No matter whether it is politics, society, or religion, the choice is our right, which is probably given to us by some divine will. It was Josef’s choice to appear in court that Sunday, to prove that he did nothing wrong. However, this very choice was probably wrong. Still, it is very human. And this is the main perk of the novel. Kafka wrote it for and about each of us, so we take into consideration the value of our every deed.