Structures of Desire in The Trial and Moby-Dick
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Franz Kafka’s The Trial and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick share a narrative hook: both stories have characters that manifest desire in the form of seeking cleverly evasive objects. Both are stories in which characters search for something that intensely and obsessively drives them, yet eternally eludes them. What is the status of these characters’ desires? How are they structured vis-à-vis their objects of desire? How does the infuriatingly powerful yet elusive law in The Trial and the seemingly transcendent whiteness of the whale in Moby-Dick structure the desire of the characters? This paper seeks answers to these questions about desire by examining the paradigm of desire to which both stories point: namely, a desire structured by a paradoxical surplus—an absent cause immanent in its own effects.