The Trial

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Fraulein Burstner Character Analysis

A young woman who lives across the hall from Josef’s room in Frau Grubach’s boardinghouse. Josef goes to her room one night for a brief conversation and ends up kissing her. Afterwards, Josef tries to contact her repeatedly, but she ignores his advances. Josef thinks he spots her when he is being marched to his execution, but he doesn’t bother to speak to her.

Fraulein Burstner Quotes in The Trial

The The Trial quotes below are all either spoken by Fraulein Burstner or refer to Fraulein Burstner. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Oxford University Press edition of The Trial published in 2009.
Chapter 2 Quotes

He [Josef] went out, grasped her [Fraulein Burstner], kissed her on the lips and then all over her face, like a thirsty animal furiously lapping at the water of the spring it has found at last. Finally he kissed her on the neck, over the throat, and left his lips there for a long time.

Related Characters: Josef K., Fraulein Burstner
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

Without her knowledge, Josef has waited for Fraulein Burstner to return home and has subjected her to a reenactment of his arrest, during which time he moves her furniture around and loudly yells. Fraulein Burstner is alarmed by both his yelling and a subsequent knock on the door, and Josef comforts her before unexpectedly embracing and kissing her. The description of Josef's kiss is comic, if a little disturbing. It focuses entirely on Josef's actions, implying either that Fraulein Burstner doesn't exactly reciprocate the kiss or rather that her reaction doesn't matter to Josef.

Indeed, the impression that Fraulein Burstner is merely an object upon which Josef acts is emphasized by the fact that before she comes home he admits he does not know her particularly well. His eagerness to see her seems to be based in a desire to have an audience––any audience––listen to the story of his arrest, rather than a particular interest in Fraulein Burstner as a person. This confirms the impression that Josef is a self-absorbed and rather unlikeable character, and highlights the way in which individuals in this society are alienated from one another and use each other—and in the case of the novel's women, this manipulation or oppression usually comes in a sexual form. 

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Then Fräulein Bürstner appeared in the square, coming up a small set of steps from a lower street. It wasn’t quite certain that it was her, though the similarity was great. But K. wasn’t bothered whether it was definitely Fräulein Bürstner or not, it was just that he immediately became aware of the futility of his resistance. There was nothing heroic about his resistance, about making things difficult for the two men, about trying to enjoy the last semblance of life as he defended himself.

Related Characters: Josef K., Fraulein Burstner
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

It is Josef's thirty-first birthday, and he has been forcefully taken from his apartment by two well-dressed men and marched into a town square. In the square, Josef notices a woman who appears to be Fraulein Burstner, although he isn't sure. As he looks, he realizes he doesn't care whether it is her or not, and is suddenly overwhelmed by a more general feeling of indifference over what happens to him. He decides that "there was nothing heroic about his resistance," which is completely futile and only makes life more difficult for him. This marks a shift in Josef's attitude. Not only has he completely lost all optimism and desire to influence his trial, he finally seems able to "see two feet in front of him" and accept that he is being slowly marched to his death. 

On the one hand, Josef's indifference to Fraulein Burstner's identity can be seen as the result of a year of exhaustion, struggle, and frustration which has led him to accept the inevitability of defeat. At the same time, recall that during his interaction with Fraulein Burstner at the beginning of the novel he did not seem particularly concerned with who she was as an individual either. He admitted that he did not know her very well, and seemed more excited by having an audience for the reenactment of his arrest than by engaging with Fraulein Burstner as a person. It is therefore possible to interpret the events of the novel as simply confirming Josef's pre-existing alienation and disinterest in others, rather than creating it. 

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Fraulein Burstner Character Timeline in The Trial

The timeline below shows where the character Fraulein Burstner appears in The Trial. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
The Absurd Theme Icon
The Unknowable and Interpretation Theme Icon
...lead him into another room of the house that is rented by a typist named Fraulein Burstner . The supervisor is seated at the desk, and there are three young men in... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
...ways, and Josef goes to the bank with the three young people who were in Fraulein Burstner’s room, whom Josef has realized are colleagues of his. (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
On his way out of Frau Grubach’s room, Josef asks about Fraulein Burstner’s whereabouts. Grubach tells him that the young woman hasn’t yet returned from one of her... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
Josef waits until 11:30, when Fraulein Burstner arrives. She invites him into her room, where Josef explains the day’s events and apologizes... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
Josef comforts Fraulein Burstner, who is concerned about the disturbance he has caused. Impulsively, he showers her with kisses.... (full context)
Chapter 4
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
Josef goes to great lengths to find Fraulein Burstner, but is unsuccessful. He even writes her a letter to justify his behavior, but it... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
...has forgiven her somewhat. Frau Grubach explains that Fraulein Montag is simply moving in with Fraulein Burstner, and she breaks into a tearful apology for slandering Fraulein Burstner. Josef consoles her, and... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
...goes to Montag’s room, and she tersely explains that she is speaking to him on Fraulein Burstner’s behalf. Fraulein Burstner, her new roommate continues, does not think that a meeting between her... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
...him, and convinces himself that Fraulein Montag’s goal is to hinder his inevitable seduction of Fraulein Burstner . (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
...leaves Fraulein Montag and Captain Lanz, Josef realizes that he has an opportunity to confront Fraulein Burstner alone. He checks to see if anyone can see him, and, convinced nobody is watching,... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
The room is empty, and has been completely rearranged. As he leaves Fraulein Burstner’s room, Josef notices Fraulein Montag and the Captain conversing in the dining room. They glance... (full context)
Chapter 10
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
The Absurd Theme Icon
The Unknowable and Interpretation Theme Icon
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
...with flowers. Just as Josef makes up his mind to walk no further, he spots Fraulein Burstner, or a woman who greatly resembles her. Josef’s indifference to her identity makes him realize... (full context)