Gothic Romance

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By Jennifer Brown (auth.)

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Extra resources for Cannibalism in Literature and Film

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This superiority is essentially established in Crusoe’s disgust at cannibal feasts and Friday’s lack of reaction to them. However, Friday’s motives for cannibalism are important. As he only eats those slain in battle, for reasons of vengeance rather than the enjoyment of the taste, he is capable of nobility and redemption (Kitson 1). Crusoe dedicates himself to converting Friday and quelling the cannibals in his assumed role as colonial administrator and missionary. Friday is brutal and incomplete until he has been tamed by Crusoe’s religion and work ethic.

Well, I do. It takes a man all his inborn strength to fight hunger properly. It’s really easier to face bereavement, dishonour, and the perdition of one’s soul – than this kind of prolonged hunger. (60) The cannibals themselves are never asked how hungry they are or why they do not submit to their gnawing appetites. Marlow’s idea of hunger and the overwhelming urge to indulge it is realized paradoxically in the actions of the colonizers and Kurtz, who show little or no restraint and attract the novel’s most ‘ravenous and cannibalistic language’ (Rickard 2).

His novel dwells heavily upon the idea that the natives practise cannibalism, thereby satisfying a need to categorically delineate the boundaries between savage and civilized. Throughout The Coral Island, images of mouths and food abound. The issue of what to eat becomes significant in questioning what is morally and socially fit for consumption. Both the cannibal natives and the Christian boys consume in their quest for power, by eating either the bodies of slain enemies or the body of Christ, although the latter is obviously valued higher than the former.

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