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Essay by 24  •  April 24, 2011  •  608 Words (3 Pages)  •  696 Views

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Kafka's Hunger Artist

Kafka, in his masterpiece "The Hunger Artist," suggests that humans can never satisfy their desires. This is illustrated through the metaphorical hunger artist for whom nourishment is not being nourished at all. The viewing public's interest is derived from their desire to see the hunger artist cheating, but to view this would put an end to that desire. Finally, Kafka presents this idea while the artist is at the circus and describing when people wish to view the starved man.

The hunger artist's nourishment is spiritual. The man only wishes to be honored by the public. As he continuously spirals downward in his health, he looses all forms of material nourishment. As the days go on, there is conflict between the artist and the audience, as they do not believe him honest in claiming not to have eaten. By searching for the audience's approval, a symbol for spiritual nourishment, he loses both material and spiritual nourishment. The climax of the story occurs when he finally achieves his final goal which he believes will give him ultimate satisfaction: a fast until death. As Kafka so grotesquely illustrates, the frail and bony man believes he will finally receive the nourishment he wants when he has fasted until death, at which point he has lost all nourishment and dies. The conflict between the audience and the artist adds to the artist's dissatisfaction with his nourishment.

The audience viewing the artist feeds upon the belief the artist is cheating. They continually view the artist only wishing to find him cheating. They express conceit at being confident he is cheating yet no one is ever able to find any form of proof. The butchers desire to know the artist is cheating and ignore him to comfort their suspicions. These internal assurances of the public which pleasure them so also bother them because of the failure to confirm these suspicions. Yet, if the suspicions were to be confirmed, the audience would not be satisfied, and, in fact, feel cheated and frustrated. Humans' conflicting desires is further shown through the viewing public



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