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Analysis of Franz Kafkas Story: A Hunger Artist - Essay Example

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Franz Kafka’s story ‘A Hunger Artist’ is wound around a person who believes that he has within him the ability to go on fasting for really long periods of time, and make a living out of it as a professional…
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Analysis of Franz Kafkas Story: A Hunger Artist
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Analysis of Franz Kafkas Story: A Hunger Artist

The interesting twist in the story occurs towards the end when the artist, almost totally ignored by the public and deserted by his impresario, joins a circus company and is shifted to a strategic location for maximum visibility, and eventually yielding even that spot and his cage to a roaring animal. The irony of juxtaposing the well-fed animal to the emaciated and much reviled artist can not be lost on the reader. Just before dying of neglect and hunger, the artist bares his heart to proclaim that if could get to eat what he liked, he would have enjoyed eating much like everyone else, and not bothered about his fasting feats! Character The hunger artist is a dynamic character. In the beginning of the story and through the central part, he is depicted as belonging to a respectable profession for which there was the paraphernalia of organization and publicity. He took pride in what he was doing and of the fact (your last name) 2 that he was even capable of excelling himself in the art of fasting to earn fame and money. However, with the passing of years and reduced public interest in the shows, he became bitter and began blaming the show manager and the public for forcing him to break his fast and thus deny him greater glory. His intention to earn money for survival from his feats, transformed into a morbid desire to favorably influence the audience’s reaction albeit without success. In the end, he realizes that any profession should not be an end in itself but should only be a means to buy food and survive.
Conflict
The conflict in the story is the differing perspectives of the performer and the public with regard to his profession. For the public, comprising of all age groups, it has been a periodic enjoyable spectacle that drew patronage, for a time. But with changing times, the act lost its appeal almost fully. However, the artist was unable to reconcile to these changed times or the waning public interest since he started believing that the longer he fasted, greater laurels were due to him. Internally, the conflict was the artist’s inability to reconcile with the suspicion, cynicism and neglect of the public; externally, the conflict was the public’s disregard and lack of interest for his attempts to earn money and name through an outdated profession and the impresario’s blatant efforts to liven up the show, much against the artist’s liking. Setting The public space and the barred cage are the settings in which the protagonist was placed. The public space (hall) and the occasional shifting of the cage to the open grounds, sets the background for allowing interactions between the artist and the public. The theme is carried (your last name) 3 forward even in the end at the circus, when his cage was placed strategically for drawing maximum public attention. The cage itself signifies the boundaries of the artist’s freedom (or restriction) of action, although it is camouflaged as a device for enhancing the credibility of the feat. The reader gets the impression that in this commercial world, outdated art has little or no relevance as a means to earn livelihood. Point of view The story is narrated in third person by the author, who is a detached viewer of the whole drama surrounding the characters and events. Since the story is a commentary on the state of affairs in the life of an unlikely artist and over an extended period of time, ... Read More
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