Cannibalism in Literature and Film by Jennifer Brown

By Jennifer Brown

From photographs of stewed missionaries to Hannibal Lecter's hiss, cannibals have intrigued whereas evoking horror and repulsion. The label of cannibal has been used all through heritage to denigrate a given person or crew. by means of studying who's labelled cannibal at any given time, we will be able to comprehend the fears, prejudices, accredited norms and taboos of society at the moment. From the cannibal in colonial literature, to the assumption of neighborhood Gothic and the hillbilly cannibal, to serial killers, this publication examines works via writers and administrators together with Joseph Conrad, H. Rider Haggard, Thomas Harris, Bret Easton Ellis, Cormac McCarthy, Wes Craven, and Tim Burton. It explores questions of cultural identification and otherness within the glossy interval, supplying a massive and unique exam of cultural norms and fears near to nationwide, monetary, linguistic, and sexual identification. Amidst the pointy the teeth and awful urge for food of the cannibal, the ebook examines genuine fears of over-consumerism and intake that difficulty an ever-growing sleek international.

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Their sole identity is that of the cannibal. Marlow goes on to tell his listeners that the cannibals are not entirely bad: ‘fine fellows . . in their place. They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them’ (49–50). In describing the particulars of their cannibalism he merely relates that they did not eat each other in front of him and confined themselves to rotting hippo meat. Marlow’s gratitude to the cannibals seems to be based on the fact that they saved him the discomfort of seeing them eating each other.

Kurtz is, as Albert Guerard suggests, ‘The hollow man, whose evil is the evil of vacancy ’ (Guerard 243–244). Marlow, who sees Africa as demoralizing, regards the Outer Station manager’s obsession with his appearance, collars, and cuffs, as ‘backbone’. It is, in fact, an attempt to maintain the tenuous veneer of civilization, to differentiate himself from the abject filth of the natives’ situation. It is a means of erecting boundaries where there may not be any clear differences. John Griffith sees this image as Conrad’s means of showing civilization to be a ‘threadbare garment’, in danger of disintegrating and leaving the Europeans in ‘primitive nakedness’ (Griffith 140).

The notion of slipping back to a primitive, savage state was a pertinent one at the time of the novel’s publication. Cannibalism was, therefore, a useful trope to explore ideas of degeneration. In examining the depictions of the natives as cannibals, Into the Heart of Darkness 35 the colonizers as cannibals, and Kurtz as the bridging cannibal figure, Conrad’s ideological ambivalence becomes clearer. Moreover, I believe that the narrative itself is cannibalistic. Control over voice confers power and the manipulation of representation.

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