Hunger Artist Published in 1924, Term Paper

Total Length: 1198 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 0

Page 1 of 4

I can't do anything else," said the hunger artist." This conversation actually forms the crux of the entire story. The artist is looking for validation while the public is apathetic. A true artist on the other hand is consumed with passion for his work and public admiration is not his main concern. But in this story, the suffering artist is craving for attention. When that attention is denied him, he loses respect for his work too. He believes he would have done something else if he could. But the only reason he fasts is because there is nothing else he knows.

The food that he seeks is public attention and when he doesn't get it, he starves to death. The story has few layers of meaning. It is not a simple one-layered tale. On the one hand, we meet are being introduced to the suffering artist who is a victim of commercialization and on the other; the same artist is being blamed for his starvation.

Everything has to have an element of entertainment or people won't stay. This is another idea the story forwards. The author tells us that in a commercial world, all that anyone really cares about is entertainment. People's attention span is shorter and their love for the artist is fleeting. They will stay for as long as they are entertainment and then move forward. In order to keep their interests alive, you need to present something exciting every second. True art has lost its audience and appreciation is now a scarce commodity. Art is not appreciated for itself but for the excitement that it creates.

It is for this reason that the manager at the circus has involved a few antics with the fasting feat. The hunger artist should behave violently at times and it has to be limited to forty days. No one is interested in the fast itself but the violent outbursts of the artist for its sheer entertainment value: "he reacted with an outburst of fury and to the general alarm began to shake the bars of his cage like a wild animal.
Yet the impresario had a way of punishing these outbreaks which he rather enjoyed putting into operation." (Kafka 1) the public is hardly interested in the art itself and this remains the case till the very last second of the artist's life.

The circus manager is a crafty person. But he has to be so in order to run his business. He himself has no interest in the art of public fasting but wants to earn money from it somehow. He thus imposes the forty-day restriction. This allows the audience to appreciate this spectacle on a certain day when the fast is broken amidst military band, young ladies, and a sizeable audience. But gradually even this tradition died down as people completely lost interest and the young teary-eyed lady is "replaced by an attendant who had long been stationed in readiness." (Kafka, 2-3).

The hunger artist remains what he stands for i.e. hunger/hungry. He dies an inconspicuous death in a frail mental state. No one really cared and the number of records he had broken went completely unnoticed since "the little notice board showing the number of fast days achieved, which at first was changed carefully every day, had long stayed at the same figure." (Kafka 5).

At the heart of this story is commercialism and society's infatuation with the same. The hungry artist, the shortened attention span, the inability to appreciate art, the dying artist and the cage are all symbolic of changing times and its….....

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