Customer Date Analyzing the different levels of Irony in Franz Kafka’s A Hunger Artist A Hunger Artist is a short story penned by Franz Kafka in 1922. It is a part of the famous short-story collection by Kafka with the same title…
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It is his journey from stardom to decline. However, A Hunger Artist is not only about changing trends of society, but, actually, it portrays various tabooed issues with its ironic theme, hidden symbols, and metaphors. Irony is a dominating aspect to this story, and its different levels are evident throughout the narrative. This paper is an attempt to understand the hidden irony, and allegory in A Hunger Artist. Irony could be understood as the conceptual contrast between outwardly appearance and the actuality behind personal motives, experiences, and situations of life (Colebrook 5). Irony has different levels: it could be verbal, situational, and dramatic. In a story, irony should be assessed on both personal and communal grounds. Presence of verbal irony in this tale is evident by the hurtful dialogues directed towards the artist. Kafka has very clearly expressed the suspicion, public indifference and dejection experienced by the artist through the narrative. The artist is compared to an animal at several occasions, and by the end of the story, his cage is habited by a panther which is not only insulting, but also ironic to a much greater extent. The quote “Starvation artist might respond with an outbreak of rage and, to everyone's horror, begin to rattle the bars of his cage like an animal” proves this point (Kafka 61). ...
The verbal irony worsens in the last part, where the artist dies due to the unjustified ignorance from his employers but says, “And forgive me, all of you” (Give It Up! And Other Short Stories 33). This is not just absurd but also ironic because the artist is the receiver of cruelty, negligence, and indifference from the world, but he is asking others to forgive him for his sins. However, this has a lesson which Kafka has conveyed to the reader through a conversation between the artist and the overseer. The artist says, “I always wanted you to admire my fasting, but you shouldn't admire it” (Give It Up! And Other Short Stories 33). In this story, hunger is used as an element of irony, depicting constraint, isolation, and self-denial which, when imposed, crushes a person spiritually and physically. That is why Kafka clearly stated that such an act must not be admired. Situational irony occurs at numerous points in A Hunger Artist. The aspect that the artist has acknowledged his fading art is an example of situational irony. "In recent decades interest in hunger artists has greatly diminished" (Kafka 56). It is true that entertainment is necessary, but allowing such an odious act for enjoyment sake, and then suddenly rejecting it shows the society’s disrespect for art. The manner in which fasting act was conducted provides sufficient evidence for situational irony. The artist was confined in a cage, and guards kept a constant check on him. “There were also permanent watchmen, usually butchers – whose job it was, always three at a time, to watch the starvation artist day and night” (Kafka 57). Such a situation is ironic because it depicts the indifferent attitude of the public and employers towards a
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