In the influential ‘Why Look at Animals?’ (1980), John Berger laments the disappearance of real animals in capitalistic societies insofar as animals have been subjected to a progressive cultural marginalisation: in our world, either they are ‘co-opted’ into the family as pets or they are turned into spectacles, as is the case with zoo animals. The process of marginalisation began in the nineteenth century in Western Europe and North America, whose faces were then being transformed by the combined shaping forces of urbanisation and industrialisation, to the point that, today, what inhabits a heavily anthropised world is the commodified animal. Interestingly, Henry James offers a fictional representation of the irremediable loss of real animals in an urbanised environment in his 1908 tale ‘Julia Bride’. The animals which populate the New York depicted in ‘Julia Bride’ are zoo animals, performing bears, or swans which beautify the Central Park Lake with their elegance. Since she has grown up in a capital-driven society, the tale’s protagonist likewise cannot allude in her reflections but to animals culturally consumed in order to make a profit – like dancing bears, which constituted a major attraction at local fairs at the turn of the twentieth century. Yet, the logic of financial capitalism does afflict animals and women in equal measure in James’s New York of the 1900s. Through a complex animal imagery, James comes to articulate the proximity between marginalised women and animals turned into spectacle, by juxtaposing the female body with the animal’s and by drawing a parallel between the constraints imposed on performing animals – made unable to fulfil their potential capabilities – and the social norms to which women are subjected. Images of animals become metaphor of the protagonist’s life and of women’s lot at the beginning of the twentieth century.
|Titolo:||Humans as Zoo Antelopes and White Swans: Animal Imagery in Henry James's 'Julia Bride'|
|Parole Chiave:||Henry James; Julia Bride; animal imagery; John Berger; zoo animals|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore L-LIN/10 - Letteratura Inglese|
Settore L-LIN/11 - Lingue e Letterature Anglo-Americane
|Data di pubblicazione:||lug-2018|
|Tipologia:||Book Part (author)|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||03 - Contributo in volume|