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A Critical Analysis Of Animal Imagery In

1304 words - 6 pages

The term evolution, as defined by Webster’s Collegiate dictionary, is the gradual process of development or change; thus, according to the field of biological science, the physical form of mankind, derived from an untamed animal state, is one that has continued to redefine and develop over time. In order to recognize this theory, one must be willing to accept that at the very nature of mankind, is a type of carnal instinct – a bestial component that forces out man’s desire for reason, compassion, and affection. Through his incorporation of animalistic imagery within The Blue Hotel, Stephen Crane unveils the barbaric nature of the townspeople in Fort Romper, which is hitherto masked beneath a ...view middle of the document...

However, as Scully, the owner of the hotel, escorts the guests into his establishment for the evening, the author’s implementation of animal imagery quickly changes from serene to chilling.
The three guests at the hotel, the Swede, the cowboy, and the Easterner, settle in for the night, and engage in a competitive yet trivial game of cards with Johnnie, Scully’s son. As the game wages on, the Swede, “hyper-alert because of his reading of dime novels” begins hysterically accusing the other guests of attempting to kill him (Church 99). In frenzy, and described as exuding a “dying-swan look,” he spats, “I suppose I am going to be killed before I can leave this house” (330). Because a dying-swan illustrates an end to perfection and beauty within nature, this explicit imagery parallels Fort Romper and the manner in which its image of safety and civility is proven superficial by the Swede, whom “can see the signs of the community’s latent corruption and violence” (Church 99). Thus, the author’s inclusion of natural imagery transforms the hotel, as well as the entire community, from a refuge that possesses the heron, or perhaps heroin-like characteristics of peace and safety, to a dangerous internment – which is capable of stealing the lives of its visitors.
In addition to the previously included examples of animal imagery in regards to the community, the true barbaric nature of the individuals in Fort Romper is also revealed by the Swede’s ability to “see things as they are” (Church 99). When the Swede attacks Johnnie with the following words, “You are cheatin’!” the room is immediately transformed into a battle ring, and the men into savage animals, fighting for survival and spurred by the blinding fury of masculine pride (339). As Johnnie and the Swede actually retreat into battle, the usage of animal imagery explodes and the two characters are stripped of all human-like traits, and become like soulless and vicious animals, violently struggling for power and status. “The two combatants [leap] forward and [crash] together . . . [and] there was heard the . . . sound of blows . . . out from between the tight teeth of one” (343). Like “bullocks” the two humans attacked each other until the “bloody, pulpy face of [Johnnie]” indicated victory on behalf of the Swede (344).
The spectators of the fight also adopt animalistic characteristics; Scully is described as moving around in “panther-fashion” as he outlined the rules of the fight for the two opponents, and the cowboy is referred to as “[bolting] forward with the speed of a broncho” (342, 343). Not only are these two men physically described as animals, but they also display a brute and barbaric mentality that advocates competition and violence above...

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