The Similarities Between Jorge Luis Borges and Franz Kafka

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About this sample


Words: 870 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 870|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Aug 6, 2021


Table of contents

  1. Kafka's "Before the Law": A Parable of Existential Confrontation
  2. Borges's "Deutsches Requiem": A Moral Dilemma in the Shadow of Nazism
  3. Themes of Transformation and Moral Ambiguity
  4. Conclusion

Human nature, a concept as elusive as it is profound, undergoes constant evolution and transformation over time. Central to this evolution are the intricate interplays between individual perception, societal constructs, and existential inquiries. Within the realm of literature, authors often grapple with the complexities of human nature, weaving narratives that probe the depths of human consciousness. In this essay, we will delve into Franz Kafka's "Before the Law" and Jorge Luis Borges's "Deutsches Requiem," exploring the ways in which these texts illuminate the nuances of human nature, particularly in relation to religious themes. Through a comprehensive analysis of character development, thematic elements, and narrative techniques, we will uncover the profound insights offered by these two literary works.

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Before delving into the analysis of Kafka's "Before the Law" and Borges's "Deutsches Requiem," it is essential to establish a foundational understanding of human nature and its intersection with religion. Human nature encompasses the fundamental attributes, tendencies, and characteristics inherent to human beings. It encompasses not only our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors but also our existential inquiries and moral frameworks. Religion, on the other hand, provides a lens through which individuals interpret and navigate the complexities of human existence. It offers frameworks of meaning, moral guidance, and spiritual transcendence, shaping our perceptions of the world and our place within it.

Kafka's "Before the Law": A Parable of Existential Confrontation

In Kafka's enigmatic parable "Before the Law," the protagonist confronts the elusive concept of the Law, embodied by a formidable gatekeeper. The narrative unfolds as the protagonist, a nameless man, seeks entry through the door to the Law, symbolizing his quest for transcendence or enlightenment. The Law, shrouded in ambiguity, can be interpreted as a metaphor for various aspects of human existence, including divine judgment, societal authority, or existential truth.

The protagonist's relentless pursuit of access to the Law underscores the human propensity for seeking meaning and transcendence beyond the confines of earthly existence. His unwavering determination and sacrificial commitment reflect the depths of human longing and existential angst. However, despite his fervent efforts, the protagonist is ultimately denied entry, leaving the reader to grapple with the implications of his futile quest.

Borges's "Deutsches Requiem": A Moral Dilemma in the Shadow of Nazism

In "Deutsches Requiem," Borges navigates the moral complexities of human nature within the context of Nazi Germany. The protagonist, Otto Dietrich zur Linde, reflects on his transformation from a devout Christian to a fervent Nazi officer. His narrative unfolds as a poignant exploration of moral ambiguity, existential disillusionment, and the corrosive influence of ideological fervor.

Zur Linde's journey epitomizes the fragility of human nature in the face of societal pressures, familial expectations, and existential crises. His decision to forsake Christianity in favor of Nazism reflects the profound impact of external influences on individual belief systems and moral convictions. As he ascends the ranks of the Nazi regime, zur Linde grapples with the ethical implications of his actions, ultimately confronting the consequences of his moral compromise.

Themes of Transformation and Moral Ambiguity

Both Kafka's "Before the Law" and Borges's "Deutsches Requiem" resonate with themes of transformation, moral ambiguity, and existential confrontation. In "Before the Law," the protagonist's futile quest for access to the Law serves as a metaphor for the human condition, wherein individuals confront existential uncertainties and the elusive nature of transcendence. Similarly, Borges's portrayal of zur Linde's moral descent highlights the ethical dilemmas inherent to human nature, as individuals navigate the complexities of societal expectations, personal convictions, and existential crises.

Moreover, both texts engage with religious themes as a means of interrogating the moral fabric of human nature. In "Before the Law," the symbolic significance of the Law evokes religious connotations, inviting readers to contemplate the nature of divine judgment, existential truth, and the human quest for transcendence. Similarly, Borges's exploration of Christianity and Nazism in "Deutsches Requiem" illuminates the moral complexities of religious belief, ideological fervor, and existential disillusionment.

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In conclusion, Kafka's "Before the Law" and Borges's "Deutsches Requiem" offer profound insights into the complexities of human nature and its intersection with religion. Through nuanced character development, thematic exploration, and narrative complexity, these texts invite readers to contemplate the existential dilemmas, moral ambiguities, and spiritual inquiries that define the human experience. As we navigate the intricacies of existence, literature serves as a mirror, reflecting the depths of our humanity and the enduring quest for meaning, transcendence, and moral clarity.


  1. Borges, Jorge Luis. “Deutsches Requiem,” translated by Julian Palley. Labyrinths: Selected Stories & Other Writings, edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby, New Directions, 2007, pp. 141–147
  2. Kafka, Franz. “Before the Law,” translated by John Siscoe. Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 5th ed., edited by X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, Pearson, 2016, pp. 301–03
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The Similarities Between Jorge Luis Borges And Franz Kafka. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
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