The Trial: Characters
Block is a formerly successful businessman who has fallen on hard times since he was arrested five years earlier. He has degenerated into a pathetic figure and under Huld’s tutelage has made no progress in his trial. His business and his health has been ruined. He is compared to a dog.
Miss Burstner is an attractive tenant in Joseph K.’s lodgings; her bedroom adjoins his. Mrs. Grubach, the landlady, makes disparaging remarks about her morals. One evening she and K. share a passionate kiss but then she never talks to him again. She seems to be the only woman K. is really interested in and he sees her once more before he dies.
The Court Usher
The Court Usher is the husband of the washerwoman. He unquestioningly accepts the authority of the Court.
The Deputy Director
The Deputy Director is K.’s immediate boss who spies on K. in an attempt to find fault with his work. After K. is arrested, the Deputy Director’s surveillance of him becomes even more intense.
Elsa is the waitress/prostitute that K. visits weekly. She is the closest thing K. has to a girlfriend at the beginning of the novel.
The Examining Magistrate
The Examining Magistrate opens the case against K. and presides over an arbitrary legal proceeding.
Franz and Willem
Franz and Willem are two minor officials who arrest K. They are later whipped because K. made a complaint against them.
Mrs. Grubach is the owner of K.’s lodging house. She tells K. he is her favorite tenant and is heartbroken when he rebuffs her after she makes negative remarks about Miss Burstner.
Huld is a lawyer. Although he thinks very highly of his own ability to help K., he proves to be completely ineffective as K.’s lawyer. He lies in bed, talks in riddles, subjugates his clients and treats them as underlings. He does absolutely nothing to help K.
Joseph K. is the protagonist of the novel. He is a thirty-year-old man who is Chief Clerk at a bank. There is nothing outstanding about him; he is an ordinary man of ordinary abilities leading an ordinary life. He is like thousands of other men of his social background. He is not married and has few friends; his work takes up most of his time. He is therefore as puzzled as the reader is when he is arrested, since what possible crime could such an anonymous, conventional man have committed? K.’s life becomes frustrating and maddening as he struggles to comprehend the nature of the bureaucratic system that he is caught up in.
Uncle Karl is one of K.’s few family members. He arrives from the country to make K. feel guilty and to browbeat K. into getting legal advice. In this effort, he enlists the aid of his old friend Huld who reluctantly agrees to take on K.’s defense.
Leni is an eighteen-year-old sexually promiscuous nurse who cares for Huld. She falls instantly in love with all Huld’s clients and informs Huld of their actions and behavior. She has a webbed hand which K. finds very attractive.
The Manufacturer is one of K.’s clients. He is sympathetic to K. and sends him to Titorelli.
The Priest is also the prison chaplain and appears in the dark Cathedral screaming at K. In time, they talk and he befriends K. before leaving him abruptly without a thought.
Titorelli is the barefoot artist who works for the court. He is surrounded by depraved teenage girls. Titorelli attempts to advise K., making him understand that being found innocent by the Court is not an option. The best K. can hope for is to obtain a series of delays.
The Washerwoman is the Court Usher’s attractive wife. She sleeps with the judge, and is one of the women who chase K. She offers her services to help him.