The Trial

Intimacy and Human Desire in The Trial

In order to address the paradoxes of eroticism and human desire for intimacy in The Trial, it is important to recognize the ongoing theme of bondage (in the classic master/slave sense). Without this undercurrent of power and servitude, it is impossible to pin down Joseph K.'s apparent need or desire to become involved (whether intimately or socially) with women such as Fraulein Burstner, Fraulein Grubach, Leni, and the washwoman at the Court. It should be noted also that the dream-like state in which Kafka portrays the story is important to allowing these somewhat "fetish-ized" situations to occur.

A central issue in K's dealings with these women is that he often seeks out women that will help him in some way. It could be to alleviate boredom and supply information (Leni), to pass the time (Elsa), to give him information and/or help regarding his case (the washerwoman), or to lend him sexual gratification (all of the above?). In fact, K. even seems to reflect on this on page 107 when he first encounters Leni after she has broken the dish to get his attention: "'I recruit women helpers', he thought, almost amazed: 'first Fraulein Burstner, then the court usher's wife, and now this little...

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