.. ccessive guard may represent a layer, more obscured and impenetrable than the last, of the inner self that one must come in contact and bypass during an in depth search for true identity. At last, the Gate symbolizes not only the path to truth, but the threshold which must, in one way or another, be crossed before entering the path. The Gate is never closed during the many years that the Man waits for permission to enter, indicating that the only barrier from the truth is mans unwillingness to seek it. When the Gate is finally closed, it is not because a man was refused entrance, it was because man refused to enter it.
Kafka created a rapidly sketched portrait of human condition, mans frailty, his fallibility, inner conflicts resulting from his comprehension of wholeness, a perfection forever in his sight but beyond his reach (Fickert, 58). Wholeness is only beyond our reach because we dont reach for it. Up in the Gallery deals with the apparent contradiction or double aspect (Emrich, 47) of conscience and desire, and touches on Kafkas personal desire to express his concerns for his life as a contributing artist (Fickert, 62). The story begins with a hypothetical situation where a young woman is mechanically performing for an insatiable audience in the infinite perspective of a drab future when a visitor goes to the ring and yells Stop! Then the hypothetical ends and the performance continues without interruption and the visitor lays his face on the rail before him andweeps without knowing it (Kafka, 125). The visitor is faced with two choices. His conscience tells him that there is something wrong with the circus performance and he must decide whether he is willing to stand alone to demand a change or whether his desire to fit in forces him to remain silent. Concerning the visitors dilemma, Emrich quoted Kafka by saying, Truth cannot be arrived at by an individual but only by the collective whole of all individuals ( 50).
The visitor weeps because he knows that the choice is not really his to make because he cannot make the change alone. The circus artist is a ready symbol for the artist (Fickert, 62). An artist pours him or herself into making art, and all other aspects of life are irrelevant. That could explain why Kafka was never married, or why he had such a poor relationship with his family. Kafka felt he had to reconcile his need to write and his need to fit comfortably into a routine existence (Fickert, 62). It is possible to compare the equestriennes desire to successfully complete her trick, with Franz Kafkas desire to be successful in conveying his message, or mans need to be recognized for something significant.
Emrich suggests that perhaps the happiness of the equestrienne is actually the lie, the illusion (32). The woman, who is being chased in a circle for months at a stretch into an ever-widening grey future (Emrich, 32), symbolizes man being chased in similar circles by the desire to hold on to his illusions about life. Kafka is trying to state that if the truth could be seen, rescue would be possible (Emrich, 32). In each of the three stories, Metamorphosis, Before the Law, and Up in the Gallery, Kafka displayed a recurrent theme, the unsuccessful arrival or the failure to reach the goal (Beissner, 19). This theme can be applied in a couple of different ways.
First, in a broader sense, since Kafkas goal was to reveal Truth to his readers, The true way goes over a rope which is not stretched at any great height but just above the ground. It seems more designed to make people stumble than to be walked upon(Muir, 34), he may feel that he has failed because most readers do not search beyond the surface for the richness and value of the work. He may feel discouraged when readers try to criticize and analyze his work, assigning it concrete meanings and messages, when he is insisting that man cannot possibly fathom the real message because he is so wrapped up in his illusions. The second way to apply this theme is to go back and take a look at each individual story to discover what the goals were of the characters and to what extent was the failure of reaching those goals. In Metamorphosis, Gregors goal was to continue life in the manner he was comfortable with, allow him to pay the debts owed by his parents, and send his sister to a music academy.
He failed because he was consumed by the inner turmoil caused by his dissatisfaction with his job, and he was transformed into a beetle. After the metamorphosis, Gregor discovers his inner-self and realizes that the goals he struggled to achieve werent his goals at all. Before the Law has a different setting, but the same theme can be extracted. The Mans goal was to gain access to the Law without encountering opposition. He met the gate-keeper and decided not to try to enter the Gate to the Path of Truth.
A significant difference between the Man and Gregor is that the Man made the decision that would inhibit the accomplishment of his goal. The visitor in Up in the Gallery wanted to save the equestrienne from the ringmaster and the crowds but realized that he could not do it alone. Instead, he sat where he was and cried about his helplessness. It is evident that above all, Kafka wanted to make his readers realize that there was a greater truth in existence. His ambiguous parables and stories provide exercises for the brain that begin to prepare it for that moment in time when one is faced with the truth, so that he or she will be able to recognize it.
But Kafka warns, Life is a continual distraction which does not even allow us to reflect on that from which we are distracted (qtd. In Pheiffer, 58). Bibliography Beissner, Friedrich. Kafka the Artist: Kafka: A Collection Of Critical Essays. Ed.
Ronald Gray. New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1965. Emrich, Wilhelm. Franz Kafka: A Critical Study of His Writings.
Trans. Sheema Zeben Buehne. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. 1968. Fickert, Kurt. Kafkas Doubles.
George P. Knapp, Luis Lorenzo-Rivero, Wolff A. von Schmidt, eds. Las Vegas. Peter Lang Publishers.
1979. Fischer, Ernest. Kafkas Conference: : Franz Kafka: An Anthology of Marxist Criticism. Ed. Kenneth Hughes.
Hanover. University Press. 1981. Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis: From The McGraw Hill Book of Fiction.
Steve Pensinger, James R. Belser, eds. New York. McGraw Hill, Inc., 1995. Kafka, Franz.
Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Stories. Trans. Edwin and Willa Muir. Harmondsworth, England. Penguin Books.
1953. Muir, Edwin. Franz Kafka: Kafka: A Collection Of Critical Essays. Ed. Ronald Gray. New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc.
1965. Pheiffer, Johannes. The Metamorphosis: Kafka: A Collection Of Critical Essays. Ed. Ronald Gray.
New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1965. Suchkov, Boris. Franz Kafka: : Franz Kafka: An Anthology of Marxist Criticism. Ed.
Kenneth Hughes. Hanover. University Press. 1981. Thorlby, Anthony.
Kafka: A Study. New York. Rowman and Littlefield. 1972. Winkler, R.O.C.
The Novels: Kafka: A Collection Of Critical Essays. Ed. Ronald Gray. New Jersey. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1965.
Zatonsky, Dmitri. Kafka Unretouched: Franz Kafka: An Anthology of Marxist Criticism. Ed. Kenneth Hughes. Hanover.
University Press. 1981.