A Hunger Artist, and Everyday Use - Essay Example

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The Hunger Artist, a short story written by Franz Kafka in 1922, is about an artist who tours parts of Europe and displays his act that involves starvation for prolonged period or ‘fasting’ and a demonstration of devouring the first meal after that period. He remains in…
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A Hunger Artist, and Everyday Use
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d THE HUNGER ARTIST The Hunger Artist, a short story written by Franz Kafka in 1922, is about an artist who tours parts of Europe and displays his act that involves starvation for prolonged period or ‘fasting’ and a demonstration of devouring the first meal after that period. He remains in isolation in a cage during his fasting and people awed his control over hunger and dedication with which he carried out each act. This act was highly popular and he was one of the most sought after entertainment artistes of those times. However, after some time he started losing his momentous popularity with the same speed with which it had reached its peak. His temperament weakened due to starvation, he become too fragile that it disgusted the people who carried him out of his cage and his manager set certain rules to the fasting period that took the charm out of the performance for the hunger artist. People resorted to alternative acts and means of entertainment and gave up on staying loyal the act they had once supported immensely.
The hunger artist, not doing so well financially, becomes aggravated and fires his manager to join a circus himself. At the circus, he becomes a small part of the circus and not the main attraction. This bothers him greatly because he was once a one-man show that drove thousands to come and watch him. Now his cage was placed in between paths that led to the actual attraction of the circus, exotic animals. People now stole an uninterested glance at the hunger artist’s cage and carried on to pursue something that interested them more (Kafka, Crick and Robertson). The circus manager seldom cared about the hunger artist’s fasting and no one kept count. This lead to his depression and prolonged fasting that lead to his last breaths. When he was discovered dead by the management, he was buried and his cage was inhabited by a young panther. The story covers many themes of true art, one of the major ones being that of the seclusion of an artist from the outside world. Engrossed in the act itself and becoming selfless to an extent that it affected his own being, is one of the key themes of the story supported by the hunger artist’s life. The hunger artist made his art his world where he performed and remained in his own company. It also depicts that when an artist is bound and retracted even slightly the art loses its creativity and the charm that it holds. When the manager set the fasting period to 40 days the hunger artist became exasperated and lost the true essence of surprise and thrill of fasting for as long as he could. An artist likes to surprise himself as well as other and restrictions tend to strangle his creative powers. The hunger artist prided himself in the protruding ribs that were obvious due to the fasting. So much that he failed to notice that people were becoming hostile to his fragile and unbecoming appearance. His own people like the women who carried him out of the cage cringed at his sight yet he disregarded the reactions and became self-absorbed. This led to his art’s doom and ultimately his death.
Kafka, Franz, Joyce Crick, and Ritchie Robertson. A Hunger Artist And Other Stories. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print. Read More
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