The Trial is rife with overt sexuality. A large fraction of the female characters, like Leni, try to seduce Josef or are regarded by him as potential sexual conquests, like Fraulein Burstner. However, this lustfulness is hollow and insincere. Just like nearly every other interaction in the book, romantic encounters are depicted as individuals’ attempts to use others to achieve their goals, rather than as moments of tenderness, vulnerability, and connection. Josef is obsessed with controlling his paramours, and the women he associates with seem drawn to him because of his power and status. The closest thing to a loving relationship in Josef’s pre-trial life is his weekly engagement with his call girl, Elsa, which is undoubtedly more transactional than affectionate. For the women of The Trial, physical intimacy is something of a bargaining chip. The court’s custodian, for example, obliges the sexual demands of the law student and the judge because she understands that they hold power over her livelihood. The impersonal nature of sex in the novel further affirms that The Trial’s universe is devoid of any sort of meaningful interpersonal connection.
Sex and Seduction ThemeTracker
Sex and Seduction Quotes in The Trial
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.
The woman really did tempt him and, however much he thought about it, he could find no plausible reason why he should not yield to the temptation. He easily dismissed the cursory objection that she would tie him to the court. In what way could she tie him? Would he not still remain free enough to crush the court at one blow, at least insofar as it affected him? Could he not have confidence in himself to do that small thing? And her offer of help sounded genuine and was perhaps not to be discounted. Could there be any better revenge on the examining magistrate and his entourage, than to deprive them of this woman and take her to himself?
Please don’t ask me for names, but stop making this mistake, stop being intransigent, no one can resist this court, you just have to confess. Confess at the next opportunity. It’s only then there’s a possibility of escaping, only then, though even that’s not possible without outside help. But you needn’t worry about that, I’ll provide the help myself.