Maybe It’s Necessary to Suffer to Succeed

Franz Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist” is about a professional faster who sits in a cage, not eating anything, for the entertainment of the town. The artist’s suffering is to be hungry; however, to him this also means success, not eating anything and being able to please the people. Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Circular Ruins” is the story of a man who wants to create the perfect man through his dream; he works so hard to create a perfect man to the point that he suffers many sleepless nights from trying so hard to dream the perfect man; however, in the end, he is able to have success in creating the perfect man. Alastair Reid’s “Curiosity” focuses on the idea that curiosity killed the cat. The cat’s success was having knowledge, but to get that knowledge he would have to suffer by dying. In the works by Kafka, Borges, and Reid the characters suffer in order to succeed in living their lives to the fullest; the idea of living life to the fullest can be seen as being successful.

In Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist”, for example, the hunger artist suffers as a profession. He goes day and night without eating anything because this is his idea of reaching success. Fasting is his way of living his life to the fullest. Although the artist is suffering in order to live his life to the fullest, he is doing this because it is his art. His art is his passion, so his success is him living his life to fullest because he is making his art how he wants it to be made. The Hunger Artist’s goal is that “…during his fast the artist would never in any circumstances, not even under forcible compulsion, swallow the smallest morsel of food; the honor of his profession forbade it” (Kafka). The Artist is completely committed to the idea of never eating anything, not even a crumb. He suffers for this because “…only the artist himself could know that, he was therefore bound to be the sole completely satisfied spectator of his own fast” (Kafka). His success is his own thing, so he has to realize that for him to be the only one that cares about his success is what matters. Eventually the artist will suffer until he feels that he reaches exactly what he feels is his success. However, in order to reach that success, he sometimes has to take more suffering than initially planned. The Hunger Artist suffers so much that he dies, due to his reach for success. He suffers for his success until he dies and the circus workers find him and “…bur[y] the hunger artist, straw and all” (Kafka). The hunger artist eventually suffers to the point that he dies. He may have not necessarily wants to die, but he wants to have success. His success was the way he wanted to live his life to the fullest, and he dies for it because it shows his passion for what he wants.

The next author, Borges, who wrote “The Circular Ruins,” the story is about a man who wants to create a perfect man in his dream. The man wants to dream a man that would be real. The man’s goal is to create the perfect real man. This goal that “…[leads] him on [is] not impossible, though it was clearly supernatural: He wanted to dream a man. He wanted to dream him completely, in painstaking detail…” (Borges) His only goal was to create this man, but he didn’t do this without a little suffering. The man suffers due to “all that night and the next day, the unbearable lucidity of insomnia harried him, like a hawk” (Borges). Not getting sleep is how the man suffered. He didn’t care though; he simply wanted to create the perfect man. Eventually he is able to do so, and “he saw with some bitterness that his son was ready—perhaps even impatient—to be born” (Borges). The man succeeds, and was able to live his life to the fullest by creating a real man. He created his son. This was all that he wanted, and he was able to succeed even with the suffering that he had to go through.

Finally, Reid’s poem “Curiosity” shows that curiosity can lead to success through suffering. The known saying is that “curiosity may have killed the cat” (Reid). The cat wants to know things, his goal, and he was willing to die for it. On the other hand it could be that the cat was “…curious to see what death was like” (Reid). The cat’s success was to know everything. The cat wants knowledge, and it wants to experience everything as well. The cat wants to have that knowledge, and it didn’t matter what it costed. To many people “only the curious have, if they live, a tale worth telling at all” (Reid). The cat essentially gets everything that he wants. The cat gets what he wants even though he has to suffer immensely for it. The cat lives his life to the fullest because he allows himself to have curiosity. Reid explains how the cat’s willingness to die allows it to live its life to the fullest however, the dog isn’t curious, so it doesn’t live its life to the fullest (Reid).

In Kafka, Borges, and Reid’s stories a major focus is that to succeed one must suffer. The idea that in order to live one’s life to the fullest a person may have to suffer. Everyday people go through obstacles to get what they want. Even though it isn’t to the extent of dying everyone suffers a little to succeed. Most people want to live their lives to the fullest, and living one’s life to the fullest is the way that many people succeed.

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