A Hunger Artist - 1

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Jordan Henderson
Pre-AP Literature, 3rd Hour
Mrs. Becton
20 March 2013
Kafka’s Use of Symbols and Conflict to Demonstrate Misunderstanding “Misunderstanding must be nakedly exposed before true understanding can begin to flourish” (Phillip Yancey). Understanding, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the power of comprehending. Comprehension is vital; all misunderstanding must not be present in order for the grasping of the true meaning of a concept to be displayed. Misunderstanding must be exposed and handled accordingly in order for understanding to occur Throughout the short story, “A Hunger Artist”, misunderstanding often created a separation of artist from society. Franz Kafka uses various literary elements and devices such as symbols and conflict to demonstrate this theme. One way that Franz Kafka explicitly displays misunderstanding in “A Hunger Artist” is through his use of symbolism. Throughout the work, the hunger artist was locked inside of a cage to isolate himself from the fickle public. This cage represents alienation from society and also a barrier that prevents understanding. The spectators’ positions outside of the cage prevent them from truly appreciating the hunger artist’s feat and often times causes those to misunderstand the concept of “art” that the hunger artist is attempting to exhibit. In the artist’s case, being an artist means cutting oneself off from the world and this is reflected in the artist’s conscious choice to sequester, or seclude, himself in a cage. The physical separation of hunger artist and spectator that the cage creates mirrors the spiritual separation of the individual artistic ego and public will. This separation in mindset leads to a critical dividend in understanding in which only the hunger artist realizes the importance of his ambitions and accomplishments. In regard to the artist’s behavior, the impresario would apologize as stated, “He would apologize publicly for the artist’s behavior, which was...
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