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Kafka’s Panorama: Metamorphosis and A Hunger Artist

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Everyone feels the obligation to shift sometime in their life. The issue would be if the difference would be for the best. Kafka elaborates on how the public pressures society and forces individuals to view themselves negatively which may be portrayed as an illusion. In the literary novella work, The Metamorphosis, Kafka elaborates on how Gregor is portrayed as a disgusting, repugnant beetle from the eyes of whom may approach him. An interpretation could conceivably be that he maybe was not a bug, though however, he perceived himself as a bug and forced himself to distinguish a lesser version of himself. Similar to The Metamorphosis, A Hunger Artist reveals how the protagonist is judged by his physical appearance leaving them to think they’re worthless. The allegory the Artist and Gregor represent is loneliness due to their degradation from society.

Looks are the first observation someone makes when meeting others. You can easily be discriminated nowadays by your appearance. The characters are described with sensory images to show their process. ‘The Artist now submitted completely; his head lolled on his breast as if it had landed there by chance; his body was hollowed out; his legs in a spasm of self-preservation clung close to each other at the knees’ (Kafka 2, A Hunger Artist). The author uses imagery to settle a clear picture into the reader’s mind of what the hunger Artist’s appearance was as he first left his cage. Kafka uses imagery to stimulate an emotional response to the Artist and his condition. “The children stood openmouthed, holding each other’s hands for greater security, marveling at him as he sat there pallid in black tights, with his ribs sticking out so prominently, not even on a seat but down among straw on the ground” (Kafka 1, A Hunger Artist). Kafka continues to apply imagery to describe the Artist’s physical condition but his mental condition as well, “The Artist now submitted completely; his head lolled on his breast as if it had landed there by chance; his body was hollowed out; his legs in a spasm of self-preservation clung close to each other at the knees, yet scraped on the ground as if it were not really solid ground, as if they were only trying to find solid ground” (Kafka 1).

The leading roles in the novels proceeded from being respected but through time decreased and faded as well as the loss of interest in him by the audience. “Directly across on the opposite wall hung a photograph of Gregor from the time of his military service; it was a picture of him as a lieutenant, as he, smiling and worry-free, with his hand on his sword, demanded respect for his bearing and uniform’ (Kafka 20, The Metamorphosis). Gregor used to have a complete and hardworking fulfilled life before his ‘metamorphosis’. Ironically, the moments where he was sanguine and worry-free were when he was risking his life in the military. It resembles how people acted as his claque before life as a bug, treating him with a great amount of respect. Now, he’s in a constant mode of melee with his boss and family. “On the other hand, I must also say that we business people, luckily or unluckily, however one looks at it, very often simply have to overcome a slight indisposition for business reasons” (Kafka 13). The aforementioned apprises to be Gregor’s mentality throughout the whole novel. A life of serving has convinced him and many others like him, as Gregor could be considered a symbol, to put duty above anything else, including personal health, aegis, and wellness. It is further displayed that Gregor views having turned into some sort of pest as a rather minuscule problem and channels his motivation towards getting out of bed and speaking to his boss instead of contemplating over his situation.

Though it may not seem like it, Gregor could be the antagonist. The protagonist is maybe Grete as she demonstrates the metamorphosis and develops it throughout the end of the novel. Kafka would most likely portray such characters to demonstrate that the world does not revolve around them. Grete metamorphosizes since she changes from a teen girl to a sophisticated adult. In a specific scenario, she stretches, and her parents realize that she is now a grown woman. According to the Samsa’s, Gregor was impeding them from defining the purpose of life.

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There was a certain point where the audience would buy season passes to watch the Artist perform. As time went on, the infamous Artist was later blamed as a fraud. ‘Now, quite apart from the fact that the doors were locked, should he call out for help? In spite of all his distress, he was unable to suppress a simile at this idea’ (Kafka 10, The Metamorphosis). Kafka explicates how isolated and deracinated Gregor feels, even at home with his own family. He works restlessly to support not only himself but his folks and undergoes from little to no aegis. This could foreshadow later events that happen in the plot, such as his father’s disgust and harsh words and his lachrymose mother’s denial.

Kafka uses personification to illustrate that the heavens were, “looking down” upon the Artist (Kafka 2, A Hunger Artist) to embellish how life, in the beginning, was great. The folks ceased to work recognize and feed the Artist after 40 days-which was an economic, not human consideration.

Hope is something most individuals manage to lose last. The Artist had hope as he wants to prove his honor which is why he got a job at a circus. Though he did not succeed. No matter how much you try, society will end up changing you physically or mentally. Kafka inputs a simile to link A Hunger Artist to an animal play, “he had been fasting for some time, that he reacted with an outburst of fury and to the general alarm began to shake the bars of his cage like a wild animal” to prove his act as something that deserves visual attention (Kafka 3, A Hunger Artist). The Artist loves the skeptical watchers, who stand by the cage, that have to verify the Artist does not cheat the system by eating considering it gives him a chance to prove his honor and his profession.

‘He looked up into the eyes of the ladies who were so apparently friendly and in reality, so cruel’ (Kafka 2, A Hunger Artist). From one’s perspective, the way one acts is different from the rest. In A Hunger Artist, two beautiful ladies were honored to walk the Artist to his meal, but the impresario secretly pushed the Artist and he slipped on one of the ladies and she was mortified resulting in crying and had to be replaced. He looked up to one of the eyes of the ladies who were apparently so nice but in reality, so cruel.

Clearly, in life, when something is pleasant to the eye it will eventually be supplanted by something or someone full of life, extra spirited, and newer. Following Gregor’s tender yet immediate death, his family position was compensated by his sister, who was now a grown adult with a bright future ahead of her. The Samsa family was certainly thriving and living their best life after Gregor’s passing. It surely seemed like they were not affected by their brother and son’s death. Ironically, at the beginning of The Metamorphosis, Grete was the one who mostly took care of Gregor when even his parents would not. However, as the plot thickens, she is the one who wanted him gone or dead since the family could not deal with such pain and annoyance. Subsequently, after the Artist’s death, the circus in which he used to work as, replaced him with a fat panther which potentially drew more customers. Finding your purpose in life is laborious. Unquestionably, the Artist and Gregor can demonstrate what happens when you do not: an agonizing death. The atmosphere in both the novellas was negatively simulated since the results were based on death. If you cannot figure out what you want to be or become in life it is most likely that you will attempt to fit in no matter what in your community which would result in agonizing isolation.

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Kafka’s Panorama: Metamorphosis and A Hunger Artist. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Kafka’s Panorama: Metamorphosis and A Hunger Artist.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
Kafka’s Panorama: Metamorphosis and A Hunger Artist. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
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