Analysis Of “The Hunger Artist” By Franz Kafka

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

“A Hunger Artist” by Franz Kafka was written in 1922. Historical, Political, and/ Cultural events/experiences that influenced or inspired the author’s views during the time that this story was written: Franz Kafka was a German-speaking Jew living in Austro-Hungarian where Jews weren’t treated well due to Nazi Power. Kafka lived in a Ghetto, so he spent his time being separated from other people for being different. He probably disliked the government.

Based on my research on Kafka, most of his writings were about a main character dealing with guilt or anxiety. “A Hunger Artist” was inspired by his feelings about living in a ghetto; separated from society. Central Character, with brief description: The main character of “A Hunger Artist” is a performer that travels with the impresario. His act is starving himself, hence the name “A Hunger Artist. ” The artist got annoyed at the people who didn’t believe. No matter what the artist did to prove that he did not eat, people were still are skeptical. Later in the story, when he did his act at a circus, he was put towards the entrance and nobody stopped to look at him. He didn’t feel appreciated and knew that his act was being forgotten because nobody kept track of how many days he fasted. Other Characters, with brief descriptions: The minor characters are the impresario, who travels with the artist at the beginning and the overseer, who discovers the artist dying. These two characters are not mentioned a lot in the story.

Summary of Events organized by plot structure. “A Hunger Artist” is about a solo act that travels to different cities in Europe. The act is a man who starves himself for 40 days. He is put on display for the people to see. Some people were skeptical about his talent, so they hire people to sit and watch “the hunger artist. ” Sometimes, the artist would sing so people would know that he was not eating, but people were too hard to convince. This made the artist annoyed, but there was nothing he could do about it from the cage he performed in. After 40 days of starvation, the impresario would have a doctor measure the artist and two women are picked from the crowd to pull him out of the cage. This also annoyed the artist because he knew he could starve himself even more than 40 days. As the years past, the act got less famous. The artist was too old to find a job, so he continued his act at a circus. The circus put his act in the front, near the entrance instead of inside the tent with all the other acts. He realized he was unimportant because the circus loss track of how many days he fasted and people no longer looked at his attraction. He didn’t understand why people didn’t appreciate his act. Towards the end of the story, the man is found under the hay of the cage, dying. He last words explain why he didn’t eat; because he didn’t like food. Lastly, the overseer used his cage for a panther. Tone and Irony: The story had the tone of emptiness. The artist’s stomach was empty, and his profession didn’t give his life any purpose besides starving for another day. This emptiness is also shown when nobody visits his attraction, and everyone loses count of how many days he fasted.

The Irony is that his cage is replace with a large animal who loves to eat compared to the artist who is skinny and weak. Central Theme: I think the artist separates himself from the world because he feels like he doesn’t belong there. The theme could be self-hatred because he consciously knows what he is doing and if he loved himself, he wouldn’t let himself starve to death. Pride could also be another theme because the hunger artist doesn’t want to listen to anyone- in the long run, his pride kills him. Symbols and what they represent in the story: The 40 days he fasts refers to the bible story. In the bible, Jesus fast for 40 days and 40 nights to prepare for the ministry of God. During this time, Satan tempts him, but Jesus refuses. This could be like the story because everyone tells the artist to eat, but he continued to fast (I don’t think that is a good thing- but it’s similar) Another symbol could be the cage. The cage separates the artist from the world, so maybe this barrier is the thing that makes him different; his dislike for food. Maybe he does not feel like he belongs in the world. Final Evaluation: I think this story teaches you to love yourself, but not too much. I feel like everyone should love themselves for the differences, unlike the artist who separates himself from everyone because he is different. You should learn to love yourself, but don’t become too prideful.

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