The absurd and the caged self: a comparative study on “A Hunger Artist” and The Plague
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This paper explores Franz Kafka’s short story “A Hunger Artist” and Albert Camus’ novel The Plague to do a comparison of the texts in the light of absurdism. This thesis is centred around the notion of constitution of the self, constructed meaning and the inescapability of the futility of existence. The aim of this thesis is to connect constructed meaning, essence and identity by analysing Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist” and Camus’ The Plague. By discussing Albert Camus’ philosophy of absurdism from the book The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, And Jean Paul Sartre’s notion on the ego, essence and consciousness, this paper looks into how the constructed self with a sense of essence; or a purpose, creates a directive life, and how this defined sense of self confines man within the loop of futile struggle. By further analysing the characters of the texts “A Hunger Artist” and The Plague, this paper reached into the conclusion that the humane urge to solidify the sense of self is inevitable. The urge to construct the self that is attached with an essence, and to hold onto the delusion of the constructed meanings is inherent to humankind, even after confronting the futility and the meaninglessness of existence.