The trial explores the Christian ideology of the fallen man and his deep sense of guilt. The nature of the guilt is never exposed to the reader; additionally Kafka goes onto to convey the Court as a corrupt bureaucratic system where Josef K. is portrayed as this cog in this enormous machine that is the justice system. We learn this in the first sentence “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Josef K. for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong”.
The first word ‘Somebody’ creates this sense of ambiguity, who would do something like this to K.? This sentence contains nothing but unproven assumptions also the fact that K. is not informed about the details of his arrest helps to induce this atmosphere of ambivalence, deception and uncertainty which is maintained throughout the whole novel until Josef K.’s death.Another major allegory is the themes of observation and surveillance which are reflected in ‘The Trial’.
The industrial revolution were the first to introduce surveillance the idea of being monitored and watched by keeping records in paper databases of people. In the opening paragraph K. is being observed. ‘Old lady living opposite who was observing him with a curiosity quite unusual’, this causes K. to feel unsettled by being scrutinised also he knows he is being watched and this makes him feel more restricted. The reoccurring dialogues set in liminal spaces such as windows, doorways, corridors and staircases are motifs used by Kafka to heighten the sense of paranoia and concealment in K.
These places symbolise potentiality, possibilities and observation also the fact that K. is not taken away to a police station but still under arrest creates this ironic notion of being free to an extent. Furthermore K.’s burning desire for freedom inside him to tear away is expressed by Kafka numerous times but K. doesn’t run away instead surrenders himself to the justice system maybe out of curiosity to find out the reason behind his arrest or knowing that the justice system is constantly monitoring him that in a way Kafka is saying that K.’s arrest is not a dream but an inescapable reality.Moreover one of the most essential motifs that Kafka echoes throughout the whole first chapter is that the trial itself is a COSMIC joke. At one point Josef K. contemplates whether the whole events that occurred in the morning were in actual fact a joke. As K. says ‘That would take it beyond the limits of a joke. So I’m not going to say it’s a joke’. This quotation explains that K. believes that the situation is transcending away from a joke and at this point in time K. has suppressed the idea of this being a joke. The warders constantly exchange smiles and then it ‘was followed by a short burst of laughter’, the unintentional smiles from the warders suggest that there is something going on behind the scenes, and this conveys the idea of ulteriority that the warders are concealing information from K.In conclusion ‘The Trial’ is to an extent a patchwork of allegories as many characters in the novel symbolise and reflect specific ideas and concepts especially themes to do with the bureaucratic system and how it is dysfunctional in Kafka’s portrayal of it. However ‘The Trial’ also includes views that are also perceived through different interpretations of being the truth about what the legal system is like and many people share similar views to those conveyed by Kafka in ‘The Trial’ so on the other hand The Trial is not a completely a patchwork of allegories but contains to an extent direct presentations of themes and does not just symbolise ideas through characters.