“The trial” is one of the three novels by Kafka that were unpublished and supposed to be burned. It is believed that the novel was written in between 1914 and 1923. It was published after Kafka’s death in 1927.
Time: beginning of 20th century
Place: unknown European city
Josef K. is a bank worker, and he had an ordinary day waiting for his breakfast that wasn’t arriving so he went to ask the cook what was taking that long. Instead of breakfast, he gets arrested. Josef asks many questions to find out why is he arrested, but the court officials say nothing.
To make the situation more awkward, Josef is allowed to go to work every day and nothing much changes. Soon he gets a notice that he has to attend a court hearing on Sunday. It is stated that the hearing will be on Sunday so that it wouldn’t interfere with his job obligations.
Josef came to the hearing, and it was supposed to be held in an ordinary building. He walked up the stairs searching for the court under the excuse that he is looking for the shoemaker. He did not find anything that would match the description of a court hearing. He just kept running into women with kids, and there were a lot of empty and abandoned apartments.
He knocked on a door on the last floor, and a woman answered. She took him to a certain room, and Josef realized it was a courtroom. The judge said he was an hour late even though nobody told him when the hearing will be held.
The courtroom was divided into two sections, and the audience had various reactions. They would be in his favor for a while and then they would start whispering and smiling. Josef defended himself but soon he walks out because nobody understood him and everything made no sense to him.
The next Sunday Josef showed up on the court uninvited. He came into the building where a courtroom worker’s wife offered herself to him and asked him to take her away because she was completely under the will of the court. Josef thought it would be a great revenge, but then a young lawyer appeared and told the women that he has a court order for her and that she has to go and see the judge. Josef tries to help her but she refuses his help, and they disappear together.
Her husband appeared then and confided to Josef that he has to do all of these meaningless jobs while his wife was being taken away. He gave Josef a tour of the building, but it made Josef so ill that he barely managed to recover when he left the building.
Josef encountered an unusual event. When he was coming home from work he heard weird sounds behind a door, and there he found three city guards. They told him that the court coroner ordered the third one to whip them because he complained about them. Josef tries to convince the punisher not to whip them, but he paid no attention to Josef. Josef was disgusted by that scene, so he left.
The next morning he was a bit frightened to open the door and see the same scene again.
Weirder things started to happen to Josef. One day his uncle visited him and told him that the position he is in could reflect poorly on his family. The uncle convinced him that he need a good lawyer, so they paid a visit to a family friend Huld that was a lawyer
The lawyer, to Josef’s astonishment, knew everything about his case. A young girl named Leni was Huld’s nurse, and Josef started a strange relationship with her, but his uncle objected because he believed she was in a relationship with Huld.
Josef thought more about his situation. He visited a lawyer who tries to give him some hope about the case going well, but Josef doesn’t believe him. Josef thought that the lawyer was staling everything because of his advantage, so he decided to defend himself but to do that he had to use the tiniest details of his life while still not knowing what was he accused of.
He had more and more difficulty in doing his everyday job, and even his colleagues told him that they know about the trial. A manufacturer told him that the Court Painter Titorelli knows something about his trial. Titorelli did give him some clarifications about the court and he also mentioned that the court was convinced he’s guilty and that it will be hard for him to defend himself.
He gives him hope by saying that it is possible to influence the court if he has some connections. He offers to help but at the same time, he confuses him by asking does he want a real release, an illusion of a release or does he want to stall the process. He immediately emphasized that a complete release is impossible in his case. Josef soon found out that the other two options were also impossible and that the only thing he could do was postpone the trial. Josef bought a few of his paintings and left feeling confused.
One night Josef decided to go to the lawyer to fire him. The door was opened by Block, a tiny man who was also working with Huld. He has been on trial for five years, and he says to Josef that he learned some things about his case. He told him he’ll probably be convicted because of the shape of his lips. The terrified Josef fired his lawyer immediately, and the lawyer replied that he is impatient and ungrateful.
After he had fired his lawyer, Josef’s condition remained the same. He even noticed that everything was getting more complicated. One day he was ordered at work that he has to show the cathedral to an Italian man. Since the man never showed up, Josef entered the cathedral on his own.
He saw a priest that look like he was going to give him a speech. He was already trying to leave when the priest called him by the name. He told him that he expects too much help from others, especially women and that his behavior will reflect poorly on his trial. He told him a story about a guard and a man from the village. He told him that the man from the village stood outside the door of law his whole life, waiting to get in. Right when he was dying he was told that the door can be shut now. The story was left unresolved.
It was Josef’s 31st birthday. Two men in black coats appeared without announcing themselves. Despite them, Josef stood by the door waiting for his guests. He said he knew that they were coming and that he made peace with his destiny. He did not fight back when they took him outside of town.
They stabbed a knife into his heart, and his last words were: “Like a dog!”.
Josef K was a 30 years old ban worker who dedicated his life to doing his job correctly. He had no friends, he was single and spent his days as a loner. He is average and ordinary. He came to the city and lived in an apartment. Even though he had done nothing wrong one morning, he finds out that he was accused of something. He starts living a double life, and he is constantly nervous because of the trial mainly because he hasn’t got a clue what the accusation was about. In the end, we can conclude that the novel spoke about his conscious because the court is described as something called on by guilt.
Franz Kafka Biography
Franz Kafka was born in Prague on July, the 3rd in 1883. He was born into a wealthy family dominated by his father and he grew up in the shadow of his father’s authority which made a great impact on him.
After finishing high school, he studied chemistry. After that, he transferred to German and German literature to end up finally studying law. In reality, he only wanted to be a writer. During his life, two books of stories and a few magazine articles by him were published.
During his lifetime “Contemplation”, “A Country Doctor”, “A hungry artist”, “The Judgement” and “The Metamorphosis” were published.
He stated a wish in his will for all of his books to be burned but the will executor, Max Brod, didn’t want to do that. The books supposed to be burn were “The Trial”, “America” and “The Castle”.
Kafka died from tuberculosis in Wien on June the 3rd, 1924. In 1931 the stories “The great Wall of China” were published.
Franz Kafka was one of the most important artists of modern day literature and contemporary novel. To its testimony speaks the fact that many contemporary novel writers use his work as a start, or better to say an inspiration in writing.