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Franz Kafka Essay, Research Paper

In his parable Before the Law, Franz Kafka suggests that obstacles that one faces in life can either be used to mold one’s success or bring about one’s failure. If one can overcome challenges that they face they grow in a unique type of way, for every individual perceives each situation in a distinct fashion. That unique type of growth is what establishes a person’s character and perception of the world. However if one cannot overcome their obstacles, then they cut of their means for growth and are left uninspired, forgetting any dreams or aspirations. It is through the man’s interaction with the doorkeeper, and his inability to overcome this obstacle, that eventually leads him down the path of complacency and failure.

It is the doorkeeper in this parable that keeps the man from gaining access to the law, and his inability to pass this doorkeeper that leads to his demise. It is important to realize that the man strives to reach ‘the law’, however he winds up getting only as far as the doorkeeper. However, what would have happened if he would have overcame the doorkeeper? The doorkeeper himself provides the answer to this question when he warns the man that he is “only the least of the doorkeepers. From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after the other, each more powerful than the last. The third doorkeeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him.” Of course “these are difficulties that the man from the country has not expected, “and instead of taking his chances, “the doorkeeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at one side of the door.” The man failed to realize that even if there were another doorkeeper behind the first door, he would have been able to face him with the experience and knowledge gained by overcoming the initial doorkeeper. This concept applies to life as well. When one overcomes their challenges, the knowledge gained from that experience merely provides them with the necessary tools to face a more difficult situation. This continues on until they are finally able to cope with difficulties that they initially never would have been able to. Unfortunately the man accepts the stool that the doorkeeper offers him where “he sits for days and years.” The man never gains any sort of stature, for he looses out on all of the potential growth he could have gained by standing up to the doorkeeper. Before the man knows he has reached a state where he is looked down upon, and questions asked of him “are put indifferent, as great lords put them.” Unaware of the hole he has dug for himself, the man eventually loses total sight of his original goal of reaching ‘the law’, and “the man fixes his attention almost continuously on the doorkeeper.” He even reaches the point of begging the fleas in the doorkeeper’s coat to grant him access to ‘The Law’ If only the man would have realized from the beginning that the gate was placed there for his own personal self-development. The lessons he could have learnt by pushing beyond the initial doorkeeper would have built him into a totally new person, with unique talents and insights gained from his experience. Instead he grows old and never achieves his aspiration, and the doorkeeper finally points out, that “no one else could be admitted here, since the gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.”

The lesson learnt from the man in Franz Kafka’s parable Before the Law, bears an important lesson about the life one leads. One must be prepared to face the trials that life present. If one is able to overcome their challenges, they will grow from their experience and form their own unique personality. If one cannot overcome their obstacles, they may spend their entire life stuck in a rut of complacency, never achieving any goals or dreams that they once had.

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