The Existential Artist Essay

680 Words May 25th, 2015 3 Pages
Dor Chavoinik
English IV AP
6 December 2012
The Existentialist Artist In A Hunger Artist, Franz Kafka utilizes existential themes in a depiction of a man’s quest for personal fulfillment through starvation, deemed an art form. This man, the hunger artist, fasts for long periods of time as part of a circus act, but never experiences satisfaction as a result of his performance; he believes he can fast for much longer than is allowed. In his current situation, the impresario makes the decision for the extent of his fast, and as a result the artist is unhappy. The artist here loses the freedom of choice, a theme masterfully applied by Kafka here. Following the ideals of existentialism, one can only experience the happiness brought
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[…] To fight this lack of understanding, against a whole world of non-understanding, was impossible” (3). Kafka demonstrates that the artist’s need for understanding creates a lack of meaning in his life. As existentialism embodies the connection between the creation of meaning and the creation of relations between people, Kafka suitably applies this theory by exposing the artist’s distress. He also mentions the little contact he has in fleeting generalities, without faces attached to descriptions or any names stated at all.
The hinger artist is also extremely concerned with the quality of his performance, in conjunction with the existentialist principle. He finds the watchers—the men who make sure that the artist doesn’t sneak any food during the night—quite annoying, and does as much as he can to prove that his fast is genuine: “He was quite happy at the prospect of spending a sleepless night with such watchers; he was ready to exchange jokes with them, […] anything at all to keep them awake and demonstrate to them again that he had no eatables in his cage and that he was fasting as not one of them could fast” (1). As a major theme of existentialism, the artist prides himself in the honesty of his performance. He takes offense at the watchers’ suspicions that he would “settle for less than the actual anxiety due him.” Through the artist’s desire for unadulterated

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