The Trial

This study guide will help you analyze the novel The Trial by Franz Kafka. You can also find a summary of the text, full characterizations, as well as inspiration for interpreting the novel and putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: The Trial (1925)

Author: Franz Kafka

Genre: Novel

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a German-speaking novelist and short story writer living in what is today the Czech Republic. His work features characters faced with surreal situations and stresses their alienation from the world around them. One of his most famous short stories is "The Metamorphosis". He also wrote several unfinished novels, such as The Trial and The Castle, which were published posthumously.

The Trial tells the story of Josef K., who is unexpectedly arrested on the morning of his 30th birthday. K. never learns the reason for his arrest, nor does he ever appear before his accusers. Nevertheless, the main character tries to get to the bottom of the question of his guilt and the nature of the court. However, K.'s undertaking is doomed to failure, and he is, eventually executed. 


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Another structure can also be found in the setting of the plot. If we look closely, it becomes clear that all the places reflect the main character’s path through life. Because of K.'s identification with the man from the countryside from the parable of the gatekeeper, the countryside forms the starting point. This is followed by his normal life with his job in the city. For the trial, he has to go to the suburbs. And for his execution he goes out of the city into the quarry. 

From this, we can discover a life cycle that begins in the countryside and culminates in the city. After that, the action shifts out of the city again with the death of the character...

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The Trial

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