A Study of Franz Kafka’s Narrative, a Hunger Artist
In most works of literature, the characters often present ideas that sometimes conflict with the audience’s view on matters affecting the society. The conflict is often seen in matters related to cultural practices. The characters are at some pint alienated from the society based on their argument on gender, race, class or even ethnic backgrounds. It is thus clear that artistry is never understood by those on the opposite side of art as depicted in Franz Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist.”This essay will prove Kafka’s position regarding literature as well as shedding more on his real life that motivated him to leave his family and the society as the main idea of creating the story and molded the symbolic characters, hunger artist, that he uses as his mouthpiece.
Critical analysis of the text
The hunger artist felt it was important to fast to receive his reward. He pushed himself past the 40 days of fasting to not only prove to himself but everyone around him he could do so. But the artist would find this very irritating because he always considered his cage to be the mark of his struggle (Naz 2011).
Kafka would rather choose a new style of writing that would present him with the opportunity to express his ideas and desires. It is the unique desire that explains his unique artistry. His distinct style of writing has spurred reactions among the readers who see him as a rebel in the way he views the society and his manner of appreciating it. The readers find some of the works appealing because they are never concerned with the authors or the artists. Such kind of viewers will provide a more rational perspective on the work.
The hunger artist’s unstable relationship with the audiences reveals that the artist lives in a society distinct from that of his audiences which are the main reason why the audiences and the artist have conflicting ideas hence misunderstanding each other. Being an artist, according to Kafka, means moving away from the society and the world at large. This conclusion is reflected in the story through the artist to remain in a cage to separate from the audience. The physical separation of the artist from the audience is symbolic (Naz 2011). It symbolizes ideological separation that exists between the audience’s will and the ego of the artists. It is this gap in the mindset that results from the misunderstanding between the two parties.
The hunger artist challenges his audiences as well as his manager due to the fact the in his such for perfection, the qualities that other artists use to interact with the audience is what he preserves. Artists create their understanding with the audiences through interactions. It is ironical however that the hunger artist seeks his perfection and fame through living a solitary life by separating himself from the society and the world as a whole (Morton 2012). This move furthers the misunderstanding between the as audiences who end up ignoring the artist entertainments and opt for newer entertainers. The artist considers his frame and the ribcage with pessimism and but considers it an honorary achievement. His pitiful physical appearance repels the lady who is willing to carry the artist from the cage and the end of his performances.
The artist’s pride also plays a significant role in the misunderstanding that is witnessed between the artist and his audiences. The artist is proud of himself despite the fact that his suffering is, manifested by his physical appearance. It is the hunger that turns that artist away from the society and confines himself into his world. The hunger artist furthers his fasting by isolating himself in a cage and begins intense meditation. Unfortunately, the story ends with the pride offering the artist shame instead of fame and success (Kafka 2012).
Due to the misunderstanding that dominates the artist’s performances, he is forced to explain to the audiences the nature of art continually. To him, doing so would him establish his unique identity that he is seeking through his art. The audience gives his move a different point of view. The crowd is hurt and thinks the artist is using fasting to hide his frustrations (Morton 2012). As a result, the artist fails to achieve his goal as the audiences lose connection with the performer.
He loses his public appeal and realizes how important his audience is. This reveals the importance of the crowd during the performances of literary works in Europe. The audiences decided the destiny of an artist because their approval moved the mass. He tries to convince the public that he cares not whether he has achieved his goal and that the audience needs to know that he is fasting willingly and not cheated as the many of them perceive his actions (Passmore 2009). Kafka uses the hunger artist to portray his alienation from his culture and the society. The artist’s constant faceoff with the audiences and the overseas represents the deepening dislike between the audience and the artist confined to solitary life is a symbol of the deepening alienation. It reveals the wild relationship existing between the Kafka and the world.
The young panther, unlike the hunger artist, captures the attention of the audience so fast and the crowd is attracted to it. This is due to the fact it presents the crowd with what they would love to see in the society. As opposed to the artist, the panther is powerful and lively. The panther represents the physical vigor of the world. Unlike the artist, he lived in the cage with a constant search for satisfaction; the panther is contented and wants nothing. Despite it being a cage, the Panther feels free and gives an aura reflecting its freedom (Passmore 2009). The crowd that surrounds the Panthers shows how important it is to engage with the world. Its strength attracted the multitude that the artist could not.
Kafka’s story uses rational paradoxes to addresses issues that affect the society. It is clear from the story that man is in constant search for the truth. People have their different ways of fulfilling their wants and the truths. When these different ways of finding truth differ, a conflict and misunderstanding arise. One of the characters thus is forced to destroy himself as he/ she searches the truth. Suffering sometimes becomes the only way out to achieving success and finding the truth. Kafka uses the story to represents the artists’ struggle to gain fame and recognition, something he, himself wanted for himself.
The misunderstanding that exists between the artist and the crowd represents Kafka’s relationship with the world. He left home and his culture as well to live a solitary life. From the story, it is also evident that the audience can never correctly establish the authors’ point of views of the ideas that he/ she discusses the works of art. The misunderstanding the conflict arises the when the author’s ego goes against the public’s will.
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