Franz Kafka Penal Colony

January 16, 2016
Art sculpture based on the

There is certainly often menace plus horror in Kafka's works, however frequently blood and gore, as this has. Nevertheless, in lots of ways, it's quintessential Kafka, featuring abuse of the legislation, the mental horror of a helpless and uniformed protagonist, an outsider, a diploma of surrealism, many dry asides.

The Harrowing Harrow

The land is grim but easy. A traveller to an exotic penal colony is asked to watch their particular method of execution: a complex device (the Harrow) engraves the words for the

The story is grim but quick. A traveller to an exotic penal colony is welcomed to view their own way of execution: a complex device (the Harrow) engraves the text of this offense in an illegible script. The condemned guy typically dies about 12 hours later, but given that terms tend to be drilled into him, he is designed to experience a moment of revelation and regret.

The device is explained in visual detail because of the officer who has devoted years to its upkeep and worships it very nearly whenever he worships the earlier leader who created it. The officer is despairing the brand-new commander isn't enlightened enough to provide full assistance into technique and fears the commander would like to abolish it.

Although pleased with as soon as of enlightenment bestowed before demise, the officer's concern is mechanics, not morality. Had been it madness that made him so obsessed, or their fixation that drove him to madness?

Will Inaction Make one Morally Culpable for Events?

The traveller is horrified, it is unsure whether or how he should intervene. He could be an honoured visitor, and from a country that's not the colonial power.

Inside short story, you will find three times when he considers acting. But he will not. "He knew that which was probably take place but he had no to impede" because the officer ended up being acting logically relating to his or her own principles.

He cannot also state farewell towards the commandant. He only sails away. I'm reminded of Le Guin's chilling short story, The Ones which moved from Omelas


In a-twist, usually the one who is sacrificed into machine may be the one who worships it. But even that's futile: the face area for the dead officer showed "no indication of the assured deliverance... What all of the other people had based in the machine, the officer had not discovered."


The specifically Kafkaesque elements tend to be your condemned man never ever understands his crime. It really is a trumped up charge of "insubordination and insulting a senior officer", which arises from an useless job at which success is nearly impossible: he dropped asleep, so didn't salute the (sleeping) captain's home from the hour, hourly, in the evening.

Additionally, the accused has received no opportunity to defend himself, doesn't initially know he is considering be executed, or exactly how, and will not speak the language of officer, traveller or shield. The officer is judge, jury and executioner, something he is pleased with - after all, "guilt is always beyond concern".


The greater amount of astonishing and sinister aspect would be the fact that the couple of continuing to be followers regarding the earlier commander believe one day he "will rise once again" from their grave...

Kafka - In der Strafkolonie (Penal Colony)
Kafka - In der Strafkolonie (Penal Colony)
In the Penal Colony
In the Penal Colony
Kafka La Colonia Penale Trailer
Kafka La Colonia Penale Trailer
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