Ambiguity, in both form and content, describes the surreal and seemingly paradoxical world outlined in Franz Kafka'sThe Castle. There we find half-truths abundant, motivations malleable, and ideas provisional; rarely a claim is made that is not immediately followed with an equally likely or contradictory alternative. This constant quest for meaning (or disregard for it) demands a close reading (and re-reading) of the text in order to collect the many cleverly placed (and one is tempted to say hidden) nuances and clues, and reconstruct the central message(s) or ideas promulgated. As such, any truly thorough analysis of The Castle would necessarily be a great deal lengthier than the task outlined below. In this essay I attempt a brief comparative analysis between the portion of the text entitled "Petitions," and its relatedness to the Parable of the Law, taken from Kafka's companion novel The Trial. In doing so, I hope to uncover sufficient parallels and recurrent language so as to better understand some of the central themes or strands of thought running throughout both Kafka texts.
The protagonist of The Castle, K., was summoned from far away to work as a land surveyor in the quaint and surreal village near the Castle. He soon discovered, however, that the summon was an error. Nevertheless, K. spent his time in the village near (and slightly below) the castle, immersed in a self-determined and self-righteous pursuit for attention from the various authorities working in and for the ever estranged yet ubiquitous Castle. K.'s reason(s) and motivation are not always clear, and the subsequent narrative follows K. as he struggled to overcome various obstacles, frequent detours, and setbacks by forces external and internal.
In the chapter titled "Petitions," K. is in the household of...