The problem authority in the novel by F. Kafka "In the Penal Colony"
The problem authority in the novel by F. Kafka "In the Penal Colony"
Introduction. Kafka's phenomenon was created by the life itself: the one, by which his country, his era lived. He witnessed the collision of centuries and the great crisis of the civilized world, especially the crisis of power. This problem is reflected in a number of his works ("The Castle", "Process," "Judgment", etc.). An old Austrian bureaucracy in some ways served to Kafka as a model, keeping on the tradition and therefore extremely cautious. When he read the excerpt from the novel "The Castle" to a few friends, they laughed: decided that Kafka parodies orders. This laugh upset him, because the power that he saw was not funny, but horrible. It did not avoid violence, but simply not always needed it because the power was absolute - perfect in itself and deadly meaningless outside of its own coordinate system. While Kafka's life such power only come into being to bend the world of the second half of XX century. And Kafka had foreseen it in his own way... This prediction is clearly heard in the novel "In the Penal Colony".
Main body. The writer considers in it a phenomenon of power, moreover, the government official, public, shows the leverage of totalitarianism. The fact that the action takes place in the remaining unnamed country, in its colonies, that there is no hint of the geographical position and political status, is symbolic: a mechanism of power is universal, the device state machine, not counting the parts, is equal. Not by chance in this very novel interpreters found prophecies concerning Nazism and Stalinism. Some remarkable similarities in fact occur, but the essence of the cult of violence of that atmosphere that distinguishes totalitarian regimes and skillfully reproduced in the story.
Characters of the text "In the Penal Colony" denotes not with the names, but functions, these are a kind of nouns, pronouns: officer (at the same time judge and the executor of punishment), a scholar-traveler (observer), soldiers (the guard), a condemned man, which has not been convicted yet (one of the representatives of the dumb mass which have a function to be accused and then inevitability convicted).On the periphery out-of-subject characters are found: the old and the new commandant, captain (who was convicted orderly), soldiers and workers, children, ladies. Finally, another character, described initially as a technical unit, and then almost as an animate being - it is a machine to carry out executions. "If earlier on it had already become clear that he understood the machine thoroughly, one could well get alarmed now at the way he handled it and how it obeyed". He had only to bring his hand to the harrow, as it repeatedly raised and lowered until it took the position that was required. Machine is a docile Cerberus of old commandant and officer, who personified the power in the colony. On the other hand, representatives of the masses are likened to animals too: "The Condemned Man, incidentally, had an expression of such dog-like resignation...", his office was to sleep under the door of the captain and every hour salute in front of the door.
The power structure in the colony is based on the opposition of these "animals" as silent creatures, and telling people in authority who own words, spoken and written, and therefore, the right to command and to judge. Power structure is vertical: the imperative command is given by word or gesture only the top down. (Virtually all of the verbal treatment of the officer to the soldier and the condemned man is built as imperative constructions).Use of the imperative towards the bottom - up ("...the man grabbed his master by the legs, shook him, and cried out, ‘Throw away that whip or I’ll eat you up".) is perceived as a serious crime and is punishable by death. The idea of a European trial where the defendant has the right for word is also undermining of the system of government ("If I had first summoned the man and interrogated him, the result would have been confusion"). Words that the condemned should understand not by the mind but by body, on which the machine tools write imperative - the verdict - is fully aware of guilt, enlightenment before the death. And for the authorities the guilt is always beyond doubt. (As it is close to the idea of Stalinist justice about the presumption of guilt and confession as the queen of the evidence and the way to the destruction of personality, capable to protest).This system is simple, clear and beautiful, the officer nostalgically recalled its "golden age", he can not imagine his life outside the system.
Kafka from the first lines immerses the reader in the stifling atmosphere of the prison regime: an enclosed space of the valley, surrounded by a hillside, the condemned, a soldier, an officer in dress uniform and invisibly present at the place of execution the commandant - "...soldier, judge, engineer, chemist, and draftsman..." of that very machine, designed to administer justice. Characterized by the fact that an instrument of torture and execution the officer, a special devotee of this device, called evasively ("machine ","device", "construction"), because of the torture process does not exist for him: it's retaliation, a triumph of justice, a punishment. He replaces the torture with the word "execution" with enviable obstinacy (never misspoke), corporal punishment, as we know, punishment without a crime does not happen. Consequently, the officer feels like arbiter of justice. This is not a torturer, not a sadist, but he boundlessly, slavishly worships the machine which he calls justice, and you should call the power. For him it is, like the uniform, the sign of homeland.
Particular attention is paid to the description of torture. Put in a hell machine, the person ceases to be even convicted and becomes just a body: "inscription encircles the body", "roll the body on the side", "prepares the body", "buries the body"... Other words associated with the physiology also emphasize it: "scribbled in blood places", "stop the blood", "the wool adhering to the wounds". Emotional message of this description is of an unusually power, to the feeling of disgust and nausea. Foucault in his article stresses that it is tormented flesh is the main target of forensic criminal repression. Torture makes the body of the condemned person the place the application of human revenge, the reference point of manifestations of power, the pretext for the approval of the asymmetry of forces... Atrocity provides shining both truth and power, it is the completion of the ritual... it combines the power and truth in put to death body. According to Foucault, from the convicted person is made his own herald sentence. He is forced in a sense to proclaim and bear witness to the truth of the charges. Kafka has this thought clothed in a visible and monstrous process of execution: harrow tools poked out the commandment on the body, which violated the prisoner. Thus, painted with blood verdict appears literally to the world. Sacrifice examines it with its wounds.
The idea of power is shown in the novel in evolution. The officer describes the orders that were adopted under the old governor. The link between past and present is the machine and the procedure of execution itself. The judicial procedure of the old commander was such that it must resort to anyone who seeks to discover their inner freedom and achieve redemption. Therefore, the above sentence in the days of the old commandant was mass spectacle - all had seen in this ordeal their own path to redemption through suffering. The point here is not in any particular wine, but in the original fault, what is a very human existence. Particular crime is merely an emanation of the global fault; it really is redeemed only by acceptance the nature of guilt. This explains the inhumane nature and the absurdity of this procedure.
It seems that the machine of power works flawlessly, but suddenly a familiar image is broken by those who supported him and brought to perfection. Feeling that the orders of the former commandant threatened, the officer renders the verdict itself and he brings it out. Truly, unlike the other victims, he knows what command will harrow tools withdraw on his body - "Be just!". And the soulless machine of power dispassionately pierces into the flesh of those who served it with fanatical devotion. Moreover it is failing right now and taking away the officer's opportunity to pass through the entire ritual and learn the moment of enlightenment. It just pierced it with tools making a bloody mess. This was not torture, it was just murder. Totalitarian system is so strong that it destroys even its apologists and turns victims to serve itself. So condemned, receiving freedom, quickly becomes an enthusiastic viewer of punishment and even the kind of performer sentence: first everything in the machine interested him, then he helps the officer to tie the hands, then begs to leave him on the place of execution and eventually comes to the delight of the spectacle.
Last apologist of monstrous machine dies but the final of the story leaves no doubt that power is immortal. The new commandant changes only its form, the essence remains the same. His loyalty is in the details, such as: the prohibition on the use of caustic fluid for skin corrosion, reducing the cost of the machines, etc. Who knows, if he did not invent a new device, an improved and puzzling in a civilized society? And the shadow of the former commandant hovering in the colony, and his body here, there, buried in the courtyard cafe. The prophetic inscription reads: "The Commandant will rise again!"
People in the state system are considered nothing more than its elements, whose existence is determined by the highest authority. The right to vote, own personal opinion and the opportunity to defend them is regarded as an unnecessary stop enforcement of a court sentence. Only truth can be only what is said in favor of the existing judicial system, everything else is just a lie, including all of what he wants, but can not say the accused, which automatically becomes a condemned. Justice of the state becomes an indispensable condition for the existence of each person.
Conclusion. Kafka's art world is unusual, extremely peculiar: the horror of his aggressiveness, funny parody of the tragic, absurd and totally unrealistic at the same time. But is there some similarities with the real world that surrounds us? Kafka's world is the idea of the real world, its allegory, metaphor. Penal Colony, an infernal machine, its hearings and victims - is also a metaphor - a metaphor of power and its mechanism. Metaphor enabling multiple interpretations.
Each writer has his own truth, his world, woven from thousands of experiences. Works of Franz Kafka are always full of absurdity. Imbued with the fear of the supreme authority and the outside world, they generate in the mind of the reader a vague anxiety and strange, a painful sense of longing."Nobody ever guessed that works of Kafka are nightmares, nightmares until the crazy details". Borges said so. These words can be clearly attributed to the novel "In the Penal Colony."
The trial terrifying by unjustified cruelty. Ability to control freely the action and even the lives of others. Problems of power expressed here so clearly that it is impossible to pass.