A Comparison of The Trial and The Metamorphosis

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A Comparison of The Trial and The Metamorphosis

     Two of Kafkas' most predominate works, The Trial and The

Metamorphosis, are very similar in many aspects, yet also have unique

differences. Many of these similarities and differences are very obvious,

but also there are subtle comparisons that the reader might not pick up

while reading. One would think, after reading both stories, that the

differences outweigh the similarities, but that is not entirely true. Not

only should the reader view the style of the writing when comparing the two,

but also the setting and plot of the two stories. Both stories relate to

loneliness, frustration and individuals threatened by anonymous forces

beyond comprehension or control.


      Although the struggle between these anonymous forces are a lot more

evident in The Metamorphosis, they are also seen throughout The Trial. In

The Metamorphosis, the anonymous force is whatever, or whoever, changed

Gregor Samsa into an insect. In The Trial, the struggle is more complex.

Joseph K struggles to find the true meaning behind his arrest. He searches

for answers related to his case, but no one can give him a clear answer as

to why he was arrested. Not even the inspector that arrested him,


"These gentlemen here and myself have no standing whatever in this affair

of yours, indeed we know hardly anything about it. We might wear the most

official uniforms and your case would not be a penny worse. I can't even

confirm that you are charged with an offense, or rather, I don't know

whether you are." (p 12)


As you can see, K has no luck getting information regarding his case. In

fact, from the time he was first put under arrest to when he was killed, he

never encountered the anonymous force that issued the arrest. The same is

true for The Metamorphosis. Gregor never finds out exactly what turned him

in to an insect, and why. This is the dominate issue in both stories, and a

prime example of similarity in Kafkas' stories.


      Another similarity in the two stories is how Kafka used surrealism.

Surrealism in The Metamorphosis is obvious, as Gregor's sudden change into

a bug is quite surreal by itself. In The Trial, there are many subtle

examples. Perhaps the best example is the scene with the whipper.

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As K

leaves the bank one day, he looks into the lumber room, where the warders

are getting whipped. He pleads for their freedom, but the whipper has no

sympathy and continues to whip them. When K comes back the next morning he



"As he passed the lumber-room again on his way out he could not resist

opening the door. And what confronted him, instead of the darkness he had

expected, bewildered him completely. Everything was still the same, exactly

as he had found it on opening the door the previous evening." (p 81)


This is just one example, Kafka used surrealism through The Trial, and his

other stories.


      Although just similarities have been mentioned, the two stories

also have unique differences. One such difference is the way the two

characters handle the anonymous force. In The Trial, Joseph K spends much

of his free time searching and investigating for information about his case.

This is completely different then Gregor in The Metamorphosis. Gregor does

not try to figure out why he has changed, in his case into an insect, he

just tries to accommodate his change and go on with his life. The reader

sees this when Gregor wakes up, realizes that he has turned into an insect,

yet his only concern is getting to work as soon as possible. This is just

one difference between the two books, there are many more.


      The similarities and differences that have been discussed are just

a few of several between the stories. One can easily see that the style of

writing Kafka used is eminent in both stories. Kafkas other books, such as

The Castle, also use this unique style and share many similarities, and

also differences, with The Trial and The Metamorphosis. Kafkas style is

truly unique, as no other author has portrayed his feelings as well as

Kafka has. The feeling that no matter what you do, in an instant, something

can drastically change your life, forever.


Works Cited:




Works Cited

Eggenschwiler, David. "'The Metamorphosis', Freud, and the Chains of Odysseus". Franz Kafka: Modern Critical Views. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. 199-219.

Emrich, Wilhelm. Franz Kafka: A Critical Study of His Writings. New York: Ungar, 1968.

Kafka, F.  The Trial.  Translated by Willa and Edwin Muir.  Introduction by George Steiner.  New York, Schocken Books, 1992

     ----- Metamorphosis. Trans. A.L. Lloyd. New York: Vanguard Press, Inc., 1946.


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