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Kafka’s “The Trial” Compared to the Justice System Essay

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Updated: Jun 2nd, 2021

Law is considered to be one of the integral parts of any human society as it regulates relations between people and ensures that their rights are protected. Since the first stages of the evolution of the civilized world, there have always been multiple debates about the just character of regulations that are taken as basic ones for the life of particular communities. The fact is that any legislation presupposes limits for people, and these limits might be inappropriate for various groups.

Under these conditions, the question about the legal nature of multiple regulations emerges. At the same time, any law must be just, it is a fundamental rule of the world. This opposition results in the appearance of a certain precedent because if there is any case of injustice, a person tries to resist it and overturn the law by referring to some higher principles that are related to morals, ethics, and people’s needs. Similar issues can be seen in modern society, and, moreover, they have reflected in Kafka’s work The Trial.

The novel revolves around Josef K’s arrest and the continuous trial. One day, the man is detained in his house by two guards who cannot explain the reason for his arrest. However, they are sure that there was a need for it as they know the verdict. Since this very event, Josef’s main activity is multiple attempts to protect himself from the Law and ensure the court that he is not guilty. Throughout the whole book, the author tries to show how absurd the justice system can be in its attempts to follow the existing legislation in its abstract form (Kafka 45).

All efforts to find the details of the whole trial fail as there is no clear understanding of why it was initiated and what are the real consequences. Under these conditions, the two possible ways out include either endless attempts to defer the case or persuasion of courts that Josef is not guilty and should be forgiven. In the end, the main character is executed because of the court’s decision.

The story provides a perfect view of the justice system and how it might work if detached from reality or some existing conditions. First of all, the main character’s arrest without any clear reasons can be compared to the real justice system that often acts in similar ways. The author conveys the idea that in many cases, people do not even recognize how courts work and what are the real reasons for them being imprisoned.

At the same time, in the novel, Kafka emphasizes the fact that law, in its abstract and ideal form, is too vague and unclear, a concept that cannot be applied to the ordinary lives of individuals who have their unique features and peculiarities (76). Describing the system, he says, “after all, our department, as far as I know, and I know only the lowest level, doesn’t seek out guilt among the general population, but, as the Law states, is attracted by guilt” (Kafka 55). It means that people have a very vague understanding of how to act, including judges and officials who try to execute pure and ideal law.

Thus, the existence of a particular idea of some higher and universal justice might result in the emergence of multiple cases of unfair attitudes and biased thinking. People are expected to be equal, but in fact, they are not, which means the inability of the Law to remain unchanged in various situations. The justice system functions similarly as it applies certain legislation to a particular case to make a specific solution (Baughman 87). In Kafka’s, novel the fact that the system becomes unfair when trying to observe some ideal assumptions is perfectly shown to the reader. In such a way, many passages or parts of the novel can be associated with the real-life and the justice system that has several flaws limiting its ability to work effectively.

For this reason, the theme of injustice or unfair attitudes to particular individuals emerges in the book. The whole idea rests on the fact that “someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested” (Kafka 13). Josef faces multiple challenges while trying to find an appropriate solution to this case and ensure judges and the court that he is not guilty. However, there is also a biased attitude he experiences because of the people’s belief that he should be punished. All Josef’s words about the need for justice are disregarded as “that is how the guilty speak” (Kafka 78). It means that Kafka touches upon an important problem peculiar to the real justice system, which is its unfair character and inability to solve complex causes.

For instance, the existing bailing system can also be analyzed from the context of the book. Bail is a specific set of restrictions that are implemented to ensure that a suspect will appear in court when it is needed (Baughman 45). It might also presuppose money or property that can be held by the court to provide an individual with pre-trial detention (May). However, in many cases, it fails to work as 70% of people who are imprisoned do not have enough money to pay bail (May).

The problem becomes even more sophisticated to the people of color who might complex social conditions and face multiple cases of unfair attitudes as they are proposed with more severe conditions for bailing (Baughman 45). In such a way, there is a certain parallel between issues mentioned by Kafka in his book and the currently existing problems as Josef as well as many individuals today experience biased attitudes because of the violation of the presumption of innocence and disregard of arguments that are offered to become free or prove some other facts.

Altogether, the novel the Trial by Franz Kafka remains topical today as it revolves around the justice system and how it works in the real environment. The author shows the problems of the ideal and abstract law and its inability to be applied to various situations emerging in ordinary life. At the same time, the biased attitude and unfair solutions result in the destruction of an individual’s life. Today, there are similar problems as the bailing system fails to work appropriately and provide people with the needed guarantees, especially topical it becomes for the people of color who have to overcome many barriers associated with the work of the justice system and its prejudiced attitude to their cases. In such a way, there are some topics that have always been topical, and that should be solved to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Works Cited

Baughman, Shima. The Bail Book: A Comprehensive Look at Bail in America’s Criminal Justice System. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Kafka, Franz. The Trial. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2017.

May, Kate. “How the Bail System in the US Became such a Mess — and How it Can Be Fixed.” Ideas.Ted. 2019. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Kafka's "The Trial" Compared to the Justice System'. 2 June.

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