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The Trial

The Trial

by Franz Kafka

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Tragedy

Anticipation Stage

Josef K., a successful banker, is rudely woken up one morning to discover that he's been arrested.

Everything seems to going well for Josef K. He's an up-and-coming executive at his bank, and seems to enjoy all the trappings of a swingin' bachelor lifestyle. Everything changes with his sudden and inexplicable arrest.

Dream Stage

While his initial court inquiry does not seem to go well, K. is free to live life as usual – it's almost as if nothing ever happened.

Even though K.'s under arrest, he isn't incarcerated, and his movements aren't restricted in any way. He can go to work as usual and enjoy all of his usual pursuits. His trial seems to be a vague and unreal affair – nothing to take seriously.

Frustration Stage

As the trial drags on, K.'s life deteriorates, even though he's taken on a lawyer to help him with his case.

Almost imperceptibly, the trial invades K.'s life, saturating his every waking thought. He's perennially anxious and worried about how much other people know about his trial. He's frustrated with the lack of progress in his case, and he only gets more frustrated when he hires Huld to defend him. Huld's procrastination tactics convinces K. that he has to intervene personally in his own case, no matter how time-consuming his involvement has to be.

Nightmare Stage

K. encounters a prison chaplain at the cathedral, whose parable about the Law only confirms K.'s worst fears about his trial.

The prison chaplain's parable about one man's failed attempt to access the Law confirms K.'s worst fears about the trial. The parable attests to the indifference of the Law to the puny individual; K. can't possibly hope to make a dent in his case.

Destruction or Death Wish Stage

Two gentlemen escort K. to an isolated quarry outside of town, where they promptly stab him to death.

Like his arrest, K.'s execution is sudden, but fits in with the trial as a process that has gradually destroyed every aspect of K.'s life.

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