The Trial is considered by many to be a dystopic, or negative, view of modern society. The novel shows the dysfunctional consequences of the forces of modernization on society. Instead of celebrating the city as a beacon of modern living, we get the city as an impoverished and sordid place, where the poor live in cramped and inhumane conditions. Instead of a society where individuals can pursue their own desires, we get a society that is a force of conformity and ordinariness, all the more effective because of the high concentration of people in cities. In Kafka's modern world, traditional social ties such as interpersonal relationships (such as that between K. and his family) deteriorate, leaving only relations of persecution and exploitation perpetrated by the court. By setting the court in one of the city's poorest districts, the novel emphasizes how the court enforces social conformity by quashing individual free will.
The Trial decries a society where the overwhelming pressure to conform reduces the individual to a mere drone.
The different urban spaces represented in The Trial highlight modernization's erosion of traditional social relationships.