GER 341, 342, 343 HomepageOregon State University

Vor dem Gesetz and Kafka: Questions to Consider

  1. Compare the character of the man from the country and the Türhüter.
    • What function does each serve?
    • Could we consider them one composite character? Why/why not?
    • Can either exist without the other?

  2. Why does the man from the country want to gain entrance to the Gesetz? Why does he choose this action as his life's goal? Can we find any sense at all in his actions? Are they realistic?

  3. Does Kafka engage in much psychological analysis of his figures? If not, what is the purpose of the story? What can we extrapolate from the characters' actions and speeches?

  4. Is the story a reflection of Kafka's own life, i.e. his relationship with his father, with others, with his religion, for example?

  5. What is the nature of authority in Vor dem Gesetz?
    • Who embodies it?
    • How do the two characters relate to this absolute law?

  6. Discuss the theme of deception in Vor dem Gesetz.
    • What sorts of deception does the Türhüter engage in?
    • Does the man from the country deceive himself?

  7. If the man from the country does suffer from self-deception, what might we say about the possibility for self-determination and self-fulfillment?
    • Does Kafka propose the plausibility of fulfillment?
    • Does he propose an existentialist "goal" of eternal striving and transcendence?

  8. For Nietzsche lovers: Do we have a Herr-Knecht (master-slave) relationship here? You might want to look at other Kafka parables and compare!

  9. What is the relationship between reality and some nightmarish "other" world in Vor dem Gesetz? Does Kafka make a clear distinction between the two spheres?

  10. Kafka makes use of the parable form here. Do you feel he is envisioning some sort of utopia or some sort of purgatory in his version of the parable form? (For a definition of the parable, click here: Parable.)

  11. How do you interpret the meaning of das Gesetz?
    • Can we view it in Christian terms? How?
    • Judaic ones? How?
    • What about mystics, existentialism, and others isms?

  12. Would you like to see some graphic images of Kafka's Weltanschauung? Click here: ARG!