Revealing the Unconscious Mind: Tools Used by Knut Hamsun to Represent Unconsciousness in Hunger

Knut Hamsun’s fin de siècle novel Hunger sets the reader up for a journey with its opening sentence when Hamsun writes, “Christiania, singular city, from which no man departs without carrying away traces of his sojourn there.” (Hunger 1). Here, Hamsun puts into place the groundwork for the introspective journey of the novel’s protagonist, an unnamed narrator attempting to become a writer in the city of Christiania. As the protagonist travels through the city, the reader is given recounts of his exposure to great hunger and poverty, his attempt to find employment, and of his interactions with other characters in his city. Throughout the novel, Hamsun uses these experiences as a device to highlight the psyche of the narrator in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of art through as seen through the unconscious mind. In this paper, I will discuss the methods used by Hamsun to depict the unconscious mind through the experiences of his narrator.

Hamsun writes the protagonist as an unreliable and conflicted narrator who displays an inclination to act on impulse alone. This is seen in Part I when, on his way to meet with the Fire Brigade in hopes of securing employment, he attempts to make his trousers look new by sprinkling water...

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