Franz Kafka is an author of power struggles. In his short stories “The Dream” and “An Imperial Message”, he proposes that a person in society has an inside battle between the life they live and the life they think about. Kafka demonstrates this by way of the device of escapes: escapes from actuality and escapes from society.
Kafka makes use of the distinction between the narrator who describes the dream and focalizer (K’s experience of the dream) to underscore the dream’s symbolic content, which has to do with the character of writing and the self.
Kafka’s story is, actually, the recounting of a dream. The story begins, however, quite problematically:
Josef K. was dreaming.
The narrator, who speaks these phrases, isn’t K. himself; that is an omniscient intelligence that someway is ready to share K’s dream. This is a vital distinction: while the story is told to us by the narrator, the perspective, or “focalizer,” is K. himself, or, at times, the artist. For instance, at a crucial second within the story, when the artist pauses inscribing the stone, the narrator tells us that K. understood that the artist was embarrassed, then tells us that the artist, “since there was no help for it,” decides to proceed carving the stone. This type of shifting of focalizer mimics the confused way dreams call consideration to detail. If we perceive the narrator, K., and the artist to be the identical person, then the best way the story is told reinforces the dreamlike sense of watching the dream unfold whereas concurrently being a part of the events within the dream.
This type of doubleness will be seen within the details of the dream, through which K. is each on the graveside and within the grave, by the movement of the path contrasted along with his awkward transition to stillness, and by the bells, which ring loudly and then awkwardly a second time. It will be difficult to assign meanings to those components, however one factor that happens naturally is that this can be a dream about writing and the self: the artist writes effortlessly on the stone at first; despite the fact that he’s using a pencil, every stroke produces a ravishing golden letter; it’s when he finishes writing the phrases “Here lies” that he appears at K, watching him write, and he loses his potential to proceed. Perhaps we are supposed to perceive writing as a type of technique of self-entombment; the “J” that lies there within the grave is similar person because the artist who writes his name on the stone.
The short story explores the themes of dreams, loss of life and considering one’s personal mortality. The description of how Josef K. step by step turns into conscious of this place within the grave and his acceptance of the burial process is what successfully develops these themes.
Guided by the title, one theme which should be thought of is that of dreams. The complete short story takes place in Josef K.’s dream and as such it is a vital theme to think about. In dreams one can ponder/ discover/ process numerous ideas and concepts inside a ‘safe’ space.
Within the dream, the setting is additionally specified as a graveyard. Naturally themes corresponding to loss of life and all its trappings in addition to the thought of going through your individual mortality come to mind.
Read About: “In the Penal Colony”: Themes
Let us think about the reluctance of going through your personal mortality. The narrator tells the reader that Josef K. initially needed “to go on a walk” however is as an alternative immediately transported to a graveyard. The paths within the graveyard are described to be “highly artificial, impractical in their windings” which suggests once more the difficulty one would possibly face moving by way of the graveyard. This is nonetheless no problem for Josef K. who “glided along such a path as if hovering unshakeably over raging water.” The dream setting makes this “hovering” potential. However, in the identical breath, it takes away the decisive, human element. Josef K. doesn’t select to walk to the graveyard, he’s taken to it as one may be taken by the “raging waters” of a river.
Once he glimpses the “freshly dug burial mound” he’s inexplicably drawn to it:
This burial mound exerted a nearly attractive effect on him, and he felt he couldn’t get there fast enough.
In these descriptions, one can think about the dream setting to have taken over route of the conscious thoughts. Josef K. doesn’t perceive why he’s drawn to the graveyard nor the grave; he doesn’t initially select it. It is just as soon as he’s near the “enticing” burial mound that he appears to make a concerted effort in that he “leaped off, he staggered and fell to his knees right in front of the mound.” These descriptions will be noted as supporting the theme that consciously one is reluctant to face your individual mortality. It is just within the ‘safety’ of an unrealistic dream that Josef K., with the clumsy actions of a dreamer, stops on the mound out of curiosity. Note, he’s as but unaware that it’s his burial mound.
The theme of the ceremonial nature of loss of life is portrayed within the reference to the “flags that twisted and flapped powerfully against one another”, the description of “great rejoicing” which takes place at this burial mound, and the chime which begins “tinkling inopportunely from the tomb chapel.”
The individuals within the ceremony of death embrace the men “holding a headstone between them in the air” and the gravestone’s engraver, or artist, who all instantly respond to Josef K.’s arrival. Each has a specific function to play within the ceremony of death. There is a specific order and function on this ceremony of death which these three individuals urgently want to full. Note the reference to the urgency within the following description:
Read About: Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” Analysis
Two males have been standing behind the grave, holding a gravestone between them within the air; the moment K. showed up, they thrust the stone into the earth, and it stood there as if cemented to the bottom. Instantly, a 3rd man emerged from the bushes, and K. promptly recognized him as an artist.
There is not any room for delay and the finality of the process is underscored by the forceful actions of the tombstone bearers.
The artist turns into aggravated when the process to this death ceremony appears to veer off beam. This chime begins to tinkle “inopportunely from the tomb chapel” and stops as soon as the artist raises his hand “wildly”. A second later the chime appears to “test its own sound” in preparation for the ceremony of death. Initially the artist begins to ornately inscribe the tombstone, however is halted by frustration and embarrassment. This halt within the burial process appears to stem from Josef K.’s presence on the grave and it is just when K. “with all his fingers” digs into the grave that the artist is ready to complete the inscription on the tombstone and, by implication, deliver finality to the burial ceremony.
Once Josef K. is within the grave, seemingly accepting his demise, the remainder of the process happens quickly:
“But while, with his head still erect on his neck, he was welcomed down below by the impenetrable depth, his name, with tremendous embellishments, rushed across the stone up above.”
It would appear that the method of burial or the ceremony of death has no endurance with the awkwardness of a human going through his mortality.
The awkwardness of coping with demise is elaborated upon within the following description:
This time, K. seemed again on the artist, who, he seen, was very embarrassed however unable to point the explanation for his embarrassment. All his earlier liveliness had vanished. As a result, K. likewise felt embarrassed; they exchanged helpless glances; there was some type of misunderstanding between them, which neither of them may clear up.
Read About: Analysis of Kafka’s “The Judgment”
Josef K. is delivered from the awkward misery he experiences throughout his misunderstanding with the artist as soon as he enters the grave. It would suggest a sort of emotional deliverance upon accepting his personal mortality. Not solely does he settle for it, however he appears to welcome it with the keenness he exhibits in digging by way of the “thin crust of earth” overlaying the grave.
Josef K. wakes from the dream “enraptured” as soon as he has seen his name inscribed on the tombstone. This sense of captivated fascination appears to suggest that after Josef K. turns into conscious of the reality nature of the ceremony, he embraces death.
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