The Unknown Guilt of Herr K.

j0395954Even if Kafka’s works are rich in interpretations there is a possible “core” to be found in them, especially in The Trial. The main topic of this novel is the guilt and its relation to the Law. Joseph K. bears a guilt, but it is not any guilt, it is an Unknown Guilt, or even better, The Unknown Guilt. Herr K. is accused by the Law which is personified by high hierarchy members of the system. One can be tempted to look for some guilt in K.’s story, some wrong acts but Herr K. is not dealing with material crimes, he is dealing with himself, with the very fact of existing. It is an existential guilt which leads K. to look desperately for help. The whole nonsense of the situations and dialogues expresses the impossibility to deal with the Law; it is an irrational one. Herr K. looks for meaning, that is, sense, reason, but there is no one and with the lack of reason comes the lack of redemption, of solution. He is guilty and he will die guilty. This statement is put clearly in different moments of the novel, how impossible is to make the Court change its opinion. Moreover, K. is not the only one trapped in a nonsensical Law, other men are waiting since ages and ages to be told what they are accused of. But there is no answer. That is exactly the point, there is no answer and there will be no answer.

All the other topics are related to and acquire their meanings depending on their position to the Law. Women are marginal to the Law, as it is explained in the previous Post, and Herr K. is not interested in women, his goal is to achieve the Law. K. has no sexual aim regarding women; all possible sexual encounters have a place in relation to the Law. That is why women become a door, they can open the way to the Law if the accused pays a sexual price (from K’s perspective, which can be wrong). Women are the really ones interested in sex, not Herr K. And that is the way in which women are presented as monstrous.

Therefore, to analyse sexuality in Kafka it is necessary to place it in its correct position and such a position is to be define regarding the Law. Sex is submitted to the Law and thus related to the sense of guilt, as it is for example, in Amerika when Karl Rossmann is expelled by his father because of a sexual encounter with the maid.


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