Taboo as a Means of Accessing the Law in Kafka’s Works

  • Taylor Sullivan Ramapo College of New Jersey


Several of Franz Kafka’s works possess a trend of unfulfilled sexualized gestures carried out between exclusively male characters; the physicality of these men’s indefinite impotence mocks a similar inability on their part to penetrate the law. Kafka’s male characters and their unending state of non-ejaculation mirror the position of the countryman in “Before the Law,” who is unable to walk through the doorway. This study interprets the connection between these unfulfilled sexualized gestures and the law by drawing on Kafka’s texts and related theory. Using a series of equivalences, this study finds its foundation in Derrida’s claim that the “law is prohibition” 1 and then builds its argument by addressing Freud’s two fundamental prohibitions of totemism: namely incest and patricide. In understanding the homosexual relationships of the text as instances of incest—due to the authoritative positioning of Kafka’s characters—the sexualized gestures that exist in Kafka’s texts become instances that aim to achieve the prohibited, that seek to “instate the law.” 2 Ultimately, this study proves the inaccessibility of the law to men in Kafka’s texts and shows where women—who physically match the doorway of the law—exist in relation to the law.

Faculty Mentor: Vassiliki Flenga

Dec 1, 2016
How to Cite
SULLIVAN, Taylor. Taboo as a Means of Accessing the Law in Kafka’s Works. Metamorphosis, [S.l.], dec. 2016. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 apr. 2018.