What is ‘the Law’ and what – or who – is it or?

What is ‘the Law’ and what – or who – is it for?

5 October 2015

“Everyone strives to reach the Law”, says the man, “how is it, then, that in all these years no one has sought admittance but me?” The doorkeeper realises that the man is nearing his end, and in order to reach his failing hearing, he bellows in his ear: “No one else could gain admittance here, because this entrance was intended solely for you. I shall now go and shut it”. (Kafka, The Trial)

5 thoughts on “What is ‘the Law’ and what – or who – is it or?”

  1. When talking about the meaning of life, we ask ourselves what our purpose is in life, which leads to the topic of destiny. When the door closes at the end of the story the doorkeeper states, “No one else could gain admittance here, because the entrance was intended solely for you. I shall now go and shut it” (Franz Kafka, The Trial, 1957, New York: Knopf, p.197). This quote shows that the door was always there for him, and only him, to go through. It was his destiny to do so, but he never took advantage of it because of the doorkeepers challenge in the way. In life if we listen to what other people tell us to do, it can take away our purpose and what we are truly meant to do. If we listen to other people constantly and never truly listen to what’s inside us then we will grow farther from what we are meant to do and our destiny.

  2. Here is one way of looking at Kafka’s work:

    If God is the doorkeeper and the gate was always open, the man understood his wretchedness, but was never fully redeemed. Pascal argued that redeeming yourself through God was the only way to find the meaning of life. While this man appeared before God in this story, by not going through the gates, the reader can say that he was never redeemed.

    God offers the man a seat, and even talks to him throughout the man’s years at the gate, but the man never fully understands how to enter. He does not realize that his redemption is up to him. The man could have entered the gates at any time and been redeemed. One of Pascal’s main points was that God and the truth are found through love and consolation, not rational enquiry. The country man begs for admittance instead of just going about it himself; one does not have to ask to be redeemed, God ensures that every person always has that option. As everything flashes before the man’s eyes, he finally asks the question that he has never asked, realizing the meaning behind the door, and why it is there in the first place. However, I do not think that the man truly redeemed himself, as he never entered the gates nor asked for that redemption.

  3. In my view, the law may perhaps represent our life and freedom. In our journeys as individuals, we are all exposed to physical threats as well as psychological threats.  The whole story is about the struggle of modern man trying to deal with life in order to achieve his goals. The man in the story represents every single individual and the doorkeeper represents our inner voice. Even though we all have goals, when we listen to our inner voice and follow orders, we are restricting ourselves from achieving them. In the story, the man was given a chance to pass the door and seek the law but he had fears due to the presence of the doorkeepers and just preferred sitting and waiting there until his very last moments.
    When we just wait for things to work in our favor, we waste our time; like the man in the story wasting his years without achieving anything at all. The man cannot just sit and hope that one day he will be able to be part of the law. The same applies to us and we should all learn a life time lesson from the man’s end and apply it to our own lives. We should all be strong enough to stand and fight for our beliefs and do whatever is necessary to accomplish them. Our fears are always keeping us one step behind our goals and blocking our path to success. We shouldn’t give up just like the man did. He gave up without even trying or failing and the story suggests that even if we fail we should try over and over again since life is all about finding what makes us happy. The man died and there was no happy ending to the story because discovering the law was going to make him happy. In this case the doorkeeper for us is our inner voice.

    Even though what is standing behind the gates is unknown, the man did not take risks. Maybe there was nothing what so ever to stop him. Maybe there were several doorkeepers but they were harmless. Or maybe they were the most violent people on planet earth but he died without knowing the truth. He just took what the doorkeeper said and assumed that those were the rules. We have to take risks in life. We may face hard situations but on the other hand they may turn to be not as hard as we expected them to me be. Or even if they are hard, we may easily be able to cope with them. We will never know the answer unless we give it a try and stop listening to our inner self. Mysterious doesn’t mean unachievable. We all have to open that gate and see where it takes us to. Some questions are unanswered but we have to fight for it whether or not we get an answer. If not we will regret before we die because we will notice that our goals were perhaps achievable if we gave them a try. But by not trying we lost our chance and now it is too late. In the end, isn’t life a mysterious journey and isn’t that what makes it fun and more exciting? In my opinion, if we knew the results of our actions before even having a think about them, our achievements would just be less pleasurable. I would just say “yes, I knew that by doing so and so, I achieved my goal successfully but I already knew that I was going to achieve it.” So I wouldn’t be as happy. We shouldn’t be our own doorkeepers. We should be willing to deal with everything we face in life, what if it is not that hard to achieve our goals? What if it isn’t that hard to find happiness? Nothing comes easy to anybody.
    Also we should never forget that we know the story in the doorkeeper’s view. Every coin has two sides. He says that there are several doorkeepers and they are all stronger than each other. What we don’t know is that, maybe he doesn’t have a clue about what is behind the gates and since he has to obey his masters, he just stands there to protect the gate without any information. This means that the man had a chance to leave, stay or try to pass the gates; on the other hand, the doorkeeper didn’t have the chance to move. This makes the man more free than the doorkeeper himself. But when you first read the story it seems like the doorkeeper is in control of everything. This may mean that we shouldn’t fall for false opinions or influences because they lead us to make wrong decisions. In the end our inner self is our doorkeeper due to influences from the outside world. And as the doorkeeper said “no one else could gain admittance here, because this entrance was intended solely for you. I shall now go and shut it” in the very end, this is kind of a revenge of him. Even in the end of the story we still don’t know if what he is saying is the truth or not, he certainly was unhappy and if the man did one of the other options like going through the gate instead of waiting his entire life, the doorkeeper may not have wasted all this time keeping an eye on him and the gate. This makes us think that nobody else wants our happiness except us. People are selfish and for their own benefit they may try to fool you with incorrect ideas. As a result, restricting our actions is nobody but us. The lesson to get out of this is that we all have to do is to be strong and stand against our inner voice as well as outside influences.
    So, what does it mean that the door to the law was opened only for one individual? What I understand is that every individual has his own open door but it all depends on the person himself to wait outside of the door without entering or to actually go inside for the pursuit of happiness. It is all about the relationship and battle of self-versus conscious and unconscious life. We all have dreams and goals that we want to achieve and nothing is earned easy in life. And we all know that sooner or later we are going to die so why waste your life hiding behind your suspicions? At least we should all be able to say; “yes I tried and didn’t be defeated to my fears. It was worth it!”

  4. This is a very powerful statement because in this country man’s dying moments, he realized what the meaning of life was all about. Unfortunately, the man never fully claimed God as his redeemer, he was not fully clean of all his wretchedness. The man was being too passive because he could have walked through the doors to claim God as his Savior. It is even more important to realize that through all the wretchedness the man showed, God still talked to him and never gave up on him. God was just waiting on the man to do the simplest thing, walk. God wanted to redeem the man and give him a meaningful life. God gave the man an open door full of opportunity and happiness that no human being had the power to close. He wanted the man to walk and receive all the greatness life had to offer him. God did not close the door until the man was dead.

  5. “The law” is different for everyone. It depends from what side you look at it, from which perspective. Some people study law as a degree and they have a different understanding of it, from those who are reading law or just trying to understand it. Law is made for the surrounding world, to have peace in the world. I was not very into law before i started my degree at uni, now I look at the law from a different perspective, and I think a lot of people will agree with me on that.

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