Compl Lit Final - Michael Sauvageau May 2 2011 Juan Ramos 2...

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Michael Sauvageau May 2, 2011 Juan Ramos 2) How might the metaphor of blindness (in its multiple dimensions) be applicable or useful to interpret Saramago’s Blindness, Svevo’s As a Man Grows Older, Kafka’s “A Starvation Artist,” Gogol’s “The Overcoat,” or Hoffman’s “The Sandman”? Themes of the social outcast, regardless of the context of said outcast, is universally present in societies everywhere. In literatures, movies, and especially in life itself, this aspect of society is ever-present. Whether it is due to misunderstanding, preconceived judgments or for any other reasons, people are turned into outcasts, even if they have not done anything in particular to deserve such a status. In Kafka’s “A Starvation Artist” and in Gogol’s “The Overcoat”, the theme of the social outcast is prodigiously and clearly addressed and made apparent in both short stories. “Who knows what true loneliness is - not the conventional word but the naked terror? To the lonely themselves it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion.” – Joseph Conrad In Franz Kafka’s “A Starvation Artist,” the reader is presented with a retrospective tale of a hunger artist. A hunger artist, as the name would imply, is a person that fasts day-to-day as a spectacle to the public. The introduction tells of a time when such a display was widely popular and intensely interestingly in the eyes of the public. The narrator speaks how “back then the hunger artist captured the attention of the entire city” (Kafka 1) and how “everyone wanted to see the hunger artist at least once a day” (Kafka 1).
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Initially, the reader can see that the hunger artist takes his profession extremely serious. A feeling of isolation is presented early in the text, specifically when the aspect of the butchers being present during the fasting is introduced. The butchers are present during the hunger artist’s fasting as a method to ensure the crowd that, contrary to all their suspicions; the hunger artist was not cheating by secretly sneaking food into his diet. This idea of people not believing his work is completely legitimate creates an aspect of alienation already. When the audience thinks he is cheating, the hunger artist is enraged and through a vicious cycle, he slowly but surely ensures his status as an outcast. He would never cheat, however. The narrator tells “the honor of his art forbade it” (Kafka 2). The artist takes his work so seriously (obsessively may be an even better word)
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This note was uploaded on 12/09/2011 for the course COMP-LIT 112 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '10 term at UMass (Amherst).

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Compl Lit Final - Michael Sauvageau May 2 2011 Juan Ramos 2...

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