Justice In The Penal Colony By Franz Kafka

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Justice is generally agreed upon in the Western world as the upholding of moral rightness through authority’s supervision of the law. However, due to differences in laws and authority figures around the world, every individual has a unique set of moral values and ideas of what is “right.” As a result, one may develop an idea of justice that seems corrupt to someone who is familiar with a different system of laws. Franz Kafka presents this scenario in his short story, “In the Penal Colony.” The officer of the penal colony believes that justice is the fulfillment of what is morally right through the violent punishment of all persons suspicious of breaking the law. Kafka invites his readers to consider that this idea of justice that contrasts…show more content…
The officer, for instance, believes that the execution of justice relies on the torture and ultimate death of those deemed guilty by the authority. In Kafka’s story, the officer describes the beginning of an execution as justice “being done” (154). This tells us that the officer believes that the execution of justice relies on the torture and ultimate death of those deemed guilty by the authority. A torture device called the apparatus is the officer’s preferred method of punishing unlawful individuals. The machine has three parts; the Bed where the condemned is laid, the Designer, and the Harrow, which engraves words upon the skin of the condemned as he slowly dies. On page 147, the officer explains, “As [the Harrow] quivers, its points pierce the skin of the body which is itself quivering from the vibration of the Bed” (Kafka). These points carve increasingly deeper into the skin over a period of twelve hours until the entire body of the condemned is inscribed with the law that he has broken. The officer describes, “The first six hours the condemned man stays alive almost as before, he suffers only pain. After two hours the felt gag is taken away, for he has no longer strength to scream” (Kafka 149). Such detailed descriptions of the apparatus’s…show more content…
Kafka’s officer’s belief that all broken laws merit equal punishments can be seen at work in ISIS’s execution of justice. For instance, ISIS’s punishment for those who merely have associations with a certain enemy nation, such as James Foley from America, is as equally destructive as their punishment for those accused of crimes according to Islamic law, such as 25-year-old S Omar Assad al-Hamadi. The men in each of these cases were both killed violently in 2014. Foley was beheaded for being American, and al-Hamadi was stoned to death for alleged homosexuality, an act that violates the Islamic law that ISIS operates by. These acts seem of injustice to those with Western views, such as the Australian prime minister who takes the stance that gruesome, torturous punishments such as those performed by ISIS have no justification when inflicted upon a criminal let alone an innocent person as they usually are. In an article about a threatening statement released by an ISIS leader and spokesman, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says, "Nothing can justify the beheadings, crucifixions, mass executions, ethnic cleansing, rape and sexual slavery that have taken place in every captured town and city." [FINISH

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