The Priest (Kafka vs Camus) Term Paper

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The Priest(Kafka vs Camus)

The Outsider, written by Albert Camus, and The Trial, written by Franz

Kafka, are two books that have been critically acclaimed since the time

that they were published. There are critics that claim that The

Outsider is a dull book, and is not even a read-worthy book. Other

people claim that it shows us how society actually acts upon people who

do not want to be like the rest of society. The Trial falls under the

same kind of criticism; but both books, although written by different

writers in a different epoque, fall under the same kind of genre:

Imprisoned Lives. In both The Outsider and The Trial there are many

people who influence the protagonists in a positive and in a negative

way, but none of those characters are as important as the priest. The

priest, being of the same profession in both books and trying to

accomplish the same kind of tasks, have a totally different effect on

the two protagonists. In The Outsider the priest changes the whole

attitude that Meursault has to life, whereas in The Trial the priest

tells Joseph K. how his life actually is.

"Why do you refuse to see me?" This question was asked by the priest

and was meant for Meursault. Normally, if a person is convicted to

death, he will see a priest before the sentence is executed. Meursault

did not do that. He profusely refused to see the priest and why should

he? He "did not believe in god." Meursault did not care, as he did not

care if his mother died, or if someone proposed marriage to him. This

of course went totally against the rules and ethics of society, which

cannot permit such kind of behaviour. But why does Camus characterize

Meursault like that? Why did he create such kind of an outsider to

society? Camus created such an outsider because he wanted to show

people how life actually is. Society does not accept people who do not

bend the truth a little and lie. Society wants to make life as easy as

can be, making up lies so that everything can run smoothly because truth

can hurt sometimes, and Camus knows that. Camus implements the priest

not just as another character in the novel, but as a person who wants to

tell Meursault how society expects him to behave. Meursault did not

want to know how he has to act to make the society happy, as a matter of

fact, the priest was "beginning to annoy" him. Meursault was not even

following what the priest said but rather gazed out of the cell into the


Camus wants to show us actually how uninterested Meursault is in the

priest. But all this is about to change because Camus adds an

unexpected twist. The priest mentions how even the hardest of criminals

stare at something at one point in their life and imagine a divine face

in it. Meursault did not see the face of Jesus Christ in it, but he saw

the face of Marie, the girl who proposed the marriage to him. But this

was the turning life in Meursault's life. All of a sudden he starts to

care about things and take some interest in things, and that explains

the outrage he suddenly got against the priest. Meursault knows that he

his going to die, and he cannot accept that. His whole attitude all of

a sudden changed. Camus shows us that a person cannot go against

society and that society and the majority, be it good or bad, will

always win.

Kafka's priest however was different. He did not tell to change Joseph

K.'s life but rather told Joseph K. how his life is and how unjust

society actually is. The setting that Kafka creates is pretty

phenomenal. The cathedral is dark and gloomy, only lighted by some oil

lamps which have a small illumination radius. "It is a rainy day",

which gives it an even more sad and depressing feeling. As time passes

by, the inside of the cathedral gets darker and darker, which creates a

sort of evil foreshadowing of what will happen at the end of the book.

Then the priest comes to the altar, which is humorous because there will

be no sermon right now. It is rainy, a weekday and nobody showed up at

the church. But that is the illusion Kafka wants to create. The priest

is not there to preach, he is there to talk to Joseph K. During the

talk the priest has with Joseph K., Kafka uses the analogy with the


But why did Kafka use this? Kafka used this analogy because he wanted

to show us how unjust and corrupt the court and justice system actually

is. Yes, the government states that the law is there so everybody can

benefit from it; "justice is there for everybody" and that anybody can

access it with no difficulty. But later Kafka writes that everything is

accessible to man, except the law. "The law is closed to him", which

means there will be no justice because the law cannot be accessed, and

without the law there cannot be any justice. Through this scene Kafka

also foreshadows that Joseph K. has been played the fool, and that the

court is actually unjust and that he was convicted unjustly. Now,

Joseph K. did not know this. He thought that everything was well, and

that his appeal has already been processed and that he would be free in

a few days. But that is why Kafka put in the priest, so that he can

clarify to Joseph K. how and in what situation the life of Joseph K.

actually stands.

Both books make profound impact on the readers; some reject the novels

and regard them as absolute trash because they do not want to accept

that society actually is how the two authors, Albert Camus and Franz

Kafka, portray them to be. They both carry a lot of hidden messages and

meanings and how the authors actually feel about the society they live

in. They criticize society because the society is corrupt and unjust,

and that is what the authors wanted us readers to find out ourselves

because one person alone cannot make any changes. It has to be many

persons, perhaps even a whole society. Many critics have criticized

these books, trying to bring down their popularity because they

themselves have been a part of the corrupt and unjust society and they

do not want to admit that they belong to one of these societies. These

books portray the truth of what kind of world we live in today and that

we should think about ourselves and what our ethics in life actually


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