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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Power

Kafka's The Trial is often read as a critique totalitarianism, a form of government power that is characterized by total government control of every aspect of daily life (hence total-itarianism), a...

Justice and Judgment

Kafka's Trial questions the relationship of justice and the law (often capitalized in the novel as "the Law"). The thing about laws is that they're supposed to be just. If there's an unjust or an u...

Sex

For a novel about a trial, there seems to be an awful lot of hanky-pankying going on. No matter how deeply the main character gets mired in his trial, he always seems to have time to flirt and sedu...

Society and Class

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 celebrati...

Isolation

Corresponding to Kafka's vision of an all-encompassing but indifferent society in The Trial is the individual's intense feelings of isolation, alienation, and anxiety. The court stands in for a soc...

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

We often use terms such as "existential" and "absurd" to describe works that are both intellectually challenging and depressing, works where nothing seems to happen but something "deep" seems to be...

Philosophical Viewpoints

We hesitate to lob a big old word like "hermeneutics" in your direction. But hermeneutics is a general term that describes philosophies that attempt to wrestle with such questions of interpretation...

Art and Culture

Like K.'s sexual shenanigans, art provides one of the seeming digressions in The Trial that is actually a critical part of the whole story. In addition to the central discussion of painting in Chap...
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