In The Penal Colony Analysis

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In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka demonstrates a symbiotic relationship between the law and technology. Although technology and law may seem like two completely different topics, Kafka does a brilliant job of exemplifying the dependent nature of both subjects. At a quick glance, it may seem like the two do not have any type of relationship in the story. However, as the reader delves deeper into the true meaning behind Kafka’s words and intentions, the true nature of the relationship is revealed. Kafka shows that in In the Penal Colony, however complicated and advanced technology may be, without a just law, the technology will prove to be ineffective and will come crumbling down.
The law in Kafka’s story, comes off as very unfair and unjust.
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“’I do not approve of your procedure,’ said the explorer … ‘So you did not find the procedure convincing,’ he said to himself and smiled, as an old man smiles at childish nonsense yet pursues his own meditations behind the smile.” (Page 160). The explorer disapproves of the law that the officer is still enforcing and plans to tell the new Commandant to remove the apparatus. This destroys the officer because the sole thing that he spent his life guarding and enforcing was disapproved in a second by the explorer. Now that the officer is mentally destroyed, he finds no more reason to live. “Now he stood naked there. The explorer knew very well what was going to happen, but he had no right to obstruct the officer in anything. If the judicial procedure which the officer cherished were really so near its end … then the officer was doing the right thing.” (Page 163). The officer decided to kill himself using the apparatus because, he rather die than continuing living and enforcing a different law. As the officer attempts to use the machine on himself, the apparatus starts to break down and ends up killing him within seconds, rather than the 12 hours it’s supposed to take. The apparatus breaking down symbolizes the technology beginning to break down after the law is unmasked to be unjust. In a harmonious relationship, without the law being able to continue to exist, the technology also fails to
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