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‘The Metamorphosis’ And ‘A Hunger Artist’

1000 words - 4 pages

There are many parallels and differences between Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and "A Hunger Artist". Kafka portrays these differences and similarities very effectively through his utilization of elements such as transformation, dehumanization, and dedication to work. Through his works, Kafka communicates with the reader in such a way that almost provokes and challenges one’s imagination and creativity.
Kafka is known for his highly symbolic and oblique style of writing. It is no surprise that several of his pieces contain the same major themes, just in different settings. The fact that he repeats his styles only makes the message that he is trying to convey much stronger. In both “The Metamorphosis” and “A Hunger Artist”, the main characters are similar in the way that they are both extremely dedicated to their work. In “The Metamorphosis”, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a bug. Oddly enough, Gregor does not question how this transformation happened or even why it happened. He is more concerned about getting to work (Metamorphosis 4). Similarly, in “A Hunger Artist”, the main character is completely dedicated to his job. In fact, he is so dedicated that he actually thinks of ways in which he can improve himself. At the end of a fast he asks himself, "Why stop fasting at this particular moment…why stop now…?" (Bedford 637).
Both of the characters in these pieces also cause their own destruction. Their deaths are both caused by starvation. After Gregor's death in Metamorphosis, his sister remarks, "Just look how thin he was. Of course he didn't eat anything for such a long time. The food came out again just the way it went in." (Metamorphosis 55) Ironically, though, it is because of Greta, his sister, that Gregor refuses to eat. Gregor’s sister says of him, “We must try to get rid of it” (Metamorphosis 51), persuading Gregor to die by starving himself. In "A Hunger Artist," the main character’s lack of fulfillment causes him despair. He reacts to this disparity by starving himself, almost as if showing resistance to the outside world. He views himself as separate from everyone else, thus confining himself in a cage (Bedford 636).
Another evident similarity between the two works is the treatment of the characters. Both Gregor and the hunger artist are treated inhumanely. This is clear in “The Metamorphosis” when Greta begins to think of Gregor as an “it” (Metamorphosis 51). Although Gregor has transformed physically, he is still human inside. Everyone around him fails to see that though, and only regard him by what they see, which is a bug. Likewise, the hunger artist is not treated as a human being either. The hunger artist is infatuated with being the best faster in Europe. This obsession deprives him from forming any social or long-lasting relationships. His alienation eventually accounts for his demise, along with the fact that he is constantly misunderstood. The people who come to see him, as well as...

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