Hunger for Community or Isolation through Performance and Writing?
However, the Hunger artist has no support from his friends and loved ones. Throughout the novel, he does not mention the whereabouts of his family. The only evidence of a significant relationship is between him and a young woman he calls Ylajali, which is soon doomed when he tells her the truth about himself. The non-name artist describes, “I couldn’t believe in her; it was quite certain she was making a sacrifice as a means of putting an end to all this . . . She said something; it sounded to me like, “I am fond of you, in spite of all. ” She said it very lowly and indistinctly.
” (Hamsun, 112) Not only does the anonymous artist not have much support from others, but also as seen with his relationship with Ylajali, he does not accept support from others for the mere reason that he is not pitied. He feels that as soon as she shows him emotion when he tells her about himself, he pulls away from her so she is not able to look down on him and feel the need to support him. He uses the word “sacrifice” to describe how he perceived the way Ylajali responded. “Sacrifice” from others, as a way of support, is not how the Hunger artist wants to be seen.
He believes the way he can feel he is successful in life as well as a writer is if he puts the burden of hardship on himself. Only then, is when he will truly feel he earns what he gets and not have to feel that he had to depend on someone else to accomplish what he wants. His pride is important to him and does not want to be seen as the struggling artist that he is. While the Hunger artist and Joseph and Mia’s actions are seen as internally secretive and open (respectively), their representations of art reflect their personalities of solitary verse community (Joseph and Mia being performers and the anonymous artist a writer).
Joseph and Mia are expressing their carefree emotions on stage laid out for everyone to see. This is displayed during the scene in which they perform a public show of singing about the plague and dancing in complete mockery of it. The performance is seen as open and lighthearted, in contrast to how someone is supposed to feel during a plague. Their preference of being stage performers, alone, shows that they have to interact with other people as their line of work. As actors they interact with each other as well as willingness to express their emotions on stage for the public eye.
They are able to see the reactions of the audience as made known when the egotistic actor was shunned off stage. In contrast, the Hunger artist is writer. His emotions and feelings are written down on a paper for him only to see. He describes, “I am full of my subject, and every word I write is inspired. ” (Hamsun, 21) His work is “inspired” by his own personal experiences, which is why it is very hard for him to write when he is starving. His writing is internal and reflects his private nature. He does not display his personal life to others, as he is not able to display his written work.
Unlike Joseph and Mia, he is not forced to interact with the audience or see the audiences’ reactions, for he does not even see the audience as he is writing to. His line of work, alone, displays the writer’s private, non-expressive nature. Although Hunger and The Seventh Seal artists contrast due to their ways of progressing, whether through a community supporting each other or solitary, there are many similarities between the characters. The Knight is similar to the Hunger artist and different than Joseph and Mia in many ways.
The knight and the Hunger artist are both alone trying to make sense of something. The knight wants to understand the meaning of life and the anonymous artist in some ways is trying to understand himself. In the protagonists journeys for understanding they both come across many situations that they are faced with, but end their journey with lost hope and little or no insight. The knight loses his game with death and anonymous artist metaphorically dies when he gives up his search for insight by submitting himself to the power of another (the ship captain).
The anonymous artist and the knight’s journeys are both internal and private. They do not readily express how they feel, nor is it really portrayed throughout their stories. Furthermore, it also may seem that the knight does not share the artistic nature that the anonymous artist has, but they both, in fact, use a form of trickery to help others or help themselves. The knight causes a diversion in order to give Joseph and Mia enough time to escape death and the anonymous artist is not honest with the townspeople in regard to his private life.
In The Seventh Seal and Hunger there are two different portrayals of artists and how they cope with their lives in difficult situations. The Hunger artist is withdrawn as he confines in himself, solely. He does not take support easily from others for the reason that he does not want to be pitied on and seen below society. His satisfaction comes from his own self-accomplishment and achievement. He uses writing to express himself just as Joseph and Mia use performing on stage. However, Mia and Joseph, in distinction, use support as a tool to move ahead and gain happiness.
They support one another and accept the support from others. Both artists, in their respective stories, are struggling, whether it is for food, respect, or happiness. However, it is important to separate the artists in terms of how they handle situations and how are feel they accomplished their goals. Using the help of others as well as the optimism and desire to move ahead, Mia and Joseph, conclude their movie with a sense of freedom and accomplishment. In contrast, to Mia and Joseph, the anonymous artist concludes his novel by giving up his struggle to be a successful writer and submits himself to working under confinement.