Law and Justice in The Trial

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Lawand Justice in TheTrial

FranzKafka’s novel, TheTrial,explores the relationship that exists between justice and the law.Ordinarily, regulations are developed to offer offenders a justhearing. Kafka, in his book, portrays the Law in such an obscuremanner that the reader finds connecting the everyday lives of peoplewith the guidelines set forth by the justice system perplexing. Inessence, TheTrialbrings to the surface the struggle of a character against a law thatis not specified. In other words, the reader fails to understand howjudgments are made by the court since no evidence is forwarded toback the verdict that the judicial officers offer. Franz paints apicture of a court that is represented by humans and a bureaucraticstructure. The court appears unjust and inhuman because of itsunclear interpretation of justice. The same perception comes intoview when the law is being interpreted the individuals interpretingthe law seem distant from the plight of normal human existence.Nonetheless, since people run the court, the law can be corruptedthrough the sordid offices and greedy judges. The legal system, asdescribed in TheTrial,prompts the audience to question whether or not the law should beunderstandable by the people that it judges.

Kafkacriticizes the manner in which the inner structures of the law areinfused in almost every page of his writing. The reader is introducedto Josef K.’s life in an episodic fashion each chapter offers thereader a glimpse into Josef’s life after his first contact with thelaw enforcement officials. The audience is abruptly met with thenotion of K.`s unlawful arrest. Kafka states that an unknown personhad been spreading false rumors about Josef, which, eventually, ledto his arrest (Kafka 2). Kafta offers little explanation for thepredicament that befell K. he immediately casts him into the strangeand dreadful web of the court system. The vast influence of thejudicial system comes to bear after Josef tells Franz to let him seethe person that is in the next room (Kafka 3). The lowly ranked courtofficials inform K. that he is under arrest they also refuse to tellhim why (Kafka 4). In spite of Josef`s aggressive temperament, hefinally succumbs to the law, which, through its capacity tomanipulate the various aspects of society, took control over hisdestiny.

Thebroad authority of the justice system is also portrayed after itspower is manifested in all the places that Josef travels. Kafka usesfigurative speech to describe the tight grip that the law has on K.He writes, “The air…was fuggy…oppressive, those…standing…awaycould hardly… be seen (Kafka 52). This revelation shows theincredibly corrupt nature of the court. This type of environmentshows how the lives of the firm members of society are usuallydrained by the judicial process, leaving them weak and vulnerable. Asopposed to ensuring that justice is served, the court seems to striveto oppress the ordinary people. Soon, K. comes to the realizationthat the law is more authoritative and vast than his imagination hadcomprehended. The law is, seemingly, present in all cracks insociety. In the end, Josef comes to the realization that no one inthe community can be trusted. The presence of the justice systemcould be represented by an unfamiliar person walking through abuilding, a victim of the court attempting to secure his freedom, ora man being beaten by hooligans in a dark alley.

Kafkaalso shows how the court obscures the judgment process. After K. madehis speech and stormed out of the courtroom (Kafka 58), he waited forhis next session. However, Josef received no communication from thecourt. He, therefore, decided to present himself to the court on thesame day of his previous trial (the next Sunday). Upon reaching thecourt offices, he was informed that no session had been scheduled forthat particular day. The podium, nevertheless, had been arranged in afashion that was similar to that of his previous session. Herequested the lady that he had met to let him view the contents ofthe books that lay on the table, but the woman refused, claiming thatsuch an action was prohibited (Kafka, 60). The act of preventingpeople from viewing the proceedings of their trials seems suspicious.The reason for such an action may have been to create room to amendthe judgment later, probably after one offers a bribe to the courtofficials. Also, the lady that Josef talked to on the corridor of thecourtroom told him that she was pleased with what he said during thecourt session. Her words prove that the legal proceedings are nevertransparent and the individuals who stand up for their rights areusually punished. This assertion can be proven by the words of thejudge that was hearing K.`s case. He said, “you…robbedyourself…the advantages that…hearing…thissort…gives…someone…under arrest” (Kafka 58).

Consideringthe above assertions, the court in Franz Kafka`s novel seems like onethat exists in a totalitarian society. To some degree, Kafka’scourt is similar to the one that existed during Stalin`s era, in theRussian Communist government. The court disregarded the idea of afree and fair trial (BBC).The Russian court did not consider whether or not an individual wasguilty all the power was accumulated at the top to maintain absolutecontrol over all agencies of the state. Nonetheless, the justicesystem of TheTrailis even worse since it also contains corruption, which is a vice thatis present in the nations whose ideologies advocate for fairness andequality for all people. Kafka’s court reflects a judicial systemthat is similar to that of the United States during the cold war era,where great injustice was witnessed (Casalaspi). K.`s trial isincomprehensible one cannot tell what his lawyer is doing to freehim. Josef said to Block “in my case he’s…workingon…first…documents. He…hasn’t done anything” (Kafka 211).This kind of reliance on the law officials is a violation of the lawsince one cannot expedite his case proceedings without the properconnections. Block says “when my case…as old as yours…I…hadthis…lawyer…but I wasn’t…satisfied with him” (Kafka 210).Previously, Block had affirmed that his case was only expedited afterhe hired five more lawyers (Kafka 209). These revelations are ironicsince one develops a very different picture of attorneys. Thus,revealing the oppressive nature of the society in which K. lives in.

Ina recap of the above discussion, the legal system in TheTrialhighlights the issue of the manner in which the law is usuallyavailed or understood by the people that it judges. The writingstudies the link that exists between justice and the law. K. onlymeets the lowly ranked officers, which means that there is alwayssomeone who makes all the decisions in the background. Also, thecourt offers no explanations for the verdicts that are given afterproving that one is guilty. In the real world, laws are usuallydeveloped to give offenders a fair hearing. However, in Kafka’sbook the law is so obscure that the audience finds associating theeveryday lives of the community with the principles set forth by thejustice system perplexing.


BBC.&quotBBC – GCSE – Stalin – Purges And Praises.&quot, 2016. Web. 7 Nov. 2016.

Casalaspi,David. &quotCold War Museum.&quot, 2016. Web. 7 Nov. 2016.

Kafka,Franz.&nbspTheTrial.1925. Print.