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Josef K. is an employee at a bank, an Everyman without any particular qualities or ambitions. His inconsequence makes doubly strange his “arrest” by an officer of the court, made with no formal charges or explanation. Disoriented and consumed with guilt for a “crime” he does not understand, Josef K. must justify his life to a “court” with which he cannot communicate. The defendant can only ask questions, but receives no answers to clarify the surreal world in which he is compelled to wander.
Through the court’s relentless bureaucratic proceedings and absurd juxtapositions of different hypotheses of cause and effect, the whole rational structure of the world is undermined. The trial of Josef K. becomes a chilling existential metaphor for life itself, where every sentence is a sentence of death.
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