THE NOTION OF TIME AND REALITY IN FRANZ KAFKA’S THE TRIAL
For Kafka, time and space are illusory. The nature of the concept of time as an objective, straightforwardly real, constantly flowing clock time has been challenged and questioned in The Trial. The concept of interior and subjective time becomes a fitting prop in the novel to represent the fluid nature of reality and self. Past and present are inextricably bound together in the symbols and shadows of this fluid reality. Kafka’s purpose is to represent life, a disguised life which is hidden beneath the appearance of things. Joseph K, the central character, is firmly rooted into the foreground of reality but he gradually loses sense of the absolutely given reality and attains liberation by means of a gradually increasing realization of his guilt. The other characters in the novel have reality only in relation to K’s inner life. The world of everyday reality is turned into the dream reality where ideas are born, and where the imagination holds sway. That is why K is often shown ‘in the dark’, which suggests the dark potentialities of the mind. K feels guilty in the last act of the novel when he allows himself to slide along the murderous trap maliciously set for him. The Trial represents man’s self-trial to determine his failure in the pursuit of an inner ideal of beauty. The guilt implicated in the last act brings forth, on the one hand, the gross shame at not seeing life as a whole, and on the other hand, the result of the cultural disorder of the viewless, chaotic age. The search for and following of an inner ideal is represented through the absence of it. Kafka abrogates the values of time and reality of the outer world, and describes his odyssey in terms of an inner world.
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