• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Tarzan of the Apes

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Escaping Reality by Timothy Rosenberg An essay in Fiction 307-11000-1 Prepared for Prof. Karen Hall Ithaca College April 20, 2005 The story of Tarzan of the Apes is one that has endured the test of time. Throughout the novel, Edgar Rice Burroughs depicts a jungle society where Tarzan is the king and his subordinates are the natives and animals of the jungle. This hierarchal system appeals to the general public of white, Anglo-Americans who might otherwise have difficulty identifying with an "uncivilized jungle setting." The novel provides adventure and excitement for those seeking an escape from the mundane life of the office or general store. Burroughs was the George Lucas of his day, creating characters as profoundly mythical - and as stereotypically superficial - as Darth Vader. Like Luke Skywalker's saga, the tale of Tarzan mixes and matches motifs from the archetype-haunted dreamtime of humanity with the theories of Carl Jung. The tale of the prince raised in secret by adopted parents (King Arthur, Luke Skywalker) is fused with the story of the feral child raised by animals (Romulus and Remus, Pecos Bill). Stories such as these fall into the genre of escapist, pulp fiction which is essentially simple romantic stories to entertain the masses. ...read more.

Middle

The thought of a man of the jungle being entitled to a large inheritance gave hope to the readers of the Tarzan novels. This hope carried over into the romantic choices of mates available to the bourgeois men because although Tarzan could not speak English, he managed to woo a beautiful woman and convince her to be his mate. The audience could empathize with Tarzan; however the subtleties of the audience's affections towards Tarzan are more elusive. Burroughs' Tarzan was loveable and identifiable by white men because Tarzan was a white man. Tarzan allowed scrawny boys to imagine themselves as a powerful ape-man roving through the unknown, unexplored jungles of Africa. However, this fantasy is grossly inaccurate. One popular misconception created by the Tarzan story is that Africa is a land of jungle. The word comes from the Sanskrit "Jungala" meaning "dry, desert," and in English it means the opposite - "thick vegetation and dense forest." Africa actually has less forest per square mile than any other continent. Africans and African-Americans have for centuries been conditioned to feel shame for being "Jungle Bunnies," and although the term is insulting and inaccurate, it still exists and Tarzan helped to put it and keep it there. All of the "Tarzan Untruths" facilitate harmful stereotypes for ethnic groups. ...read more.

Conclusion

In much 19th and early 20th century pulp fiction, American Indians and black Americans have a mystical rapport with animals, which author and audience alike understood arose from their proximity on the evolutionary scale. But Burroughs' Tarzan is closer to the animals than the black Africans who live nearby. The Great White Hope is at once more civilized and more savage than the "natives" - he is the Lone Ranger and Tonto. With Tarzan monopolizing the highest and lowest rungs of the Chain of Being, the "natives" find themselves deprived of the one asset that racist mythology attributed to them, closeness to the animals, leaving them without any particular function in the economy of kitsch literature, except to be rescued by Tarzan from rogue elephants and the occasional witch doctor. "Tarzan provides welcome reassurance of the white man's supremacy over his women and his blacks, a supremacy that is maintained in any circumstance, no matter how dire..." (J. Newsinger; 1986). Tarzan is racist, sexist, and adventurist. Thus, the massive Tarzan media march will thrive in America for exactly as long as racism, sexism, military adventurism and greedy individualism thrive in America. The novel is not an escape from reality at all; it is merely perpetuating the problems of society through passive acceptance of the injustices perpetrated by Tarzan and ultimately, the irrational generalizations perpetrated by Burroughs. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Langston Hughes's The Ways of White Folks,

    'Bunk' said Oceola. 'My ma and pa were both artists when it came to making music, and the white folks ran them out of town for being dressed up in Alabama. And look at the Jews! Every other artist in the world's a Jew, and still folks hate them,' (113).

  2. What Is Ageism; What, If Any, Affinities Does It Have With Racism or Sexism?

    As mentioned earlier the last response that one may take is 'reform', where an individual, or group of individual may take a stand against the prejudice that they are receiving. This can be seen in organisations like the American Association of Retired Persons, Crosspoint Anti- Racism, and the National Organization for Women Against Sexism.

  1. Discerning the Self: Reviewing Karen DeMeester's "Trauma and Recovery in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway"

    As a trauma victim, Septimus does not get recovery from the loss in the battlefield due to his lack of identity in this society. Clarissa is not a trauma victim but a trauma survivor with her faith in reintegration of others through having a party.

  2. The ancient civilizations of Central and South America

    These landmarks were usually very expensive to create, and required a lot of people working on them for a long period of time. 5 The Temple of the Sun that had been created was one of the greatest achievements during the Inca Empire.

  1. Mateship has long been a major aspect of the national image as projected by ...

    In sum, the value of mateship is evident in a way that a kind of social cohesion and harmony can possibly be achieved by reinforcing its influence. However, the way in which mateship is used is the crucial question. The Union Australian unionism has its origin in 1855.

  2. Introduction to Fiction Final Paper.

    soap and Lysol, the signs of an old woman who wouldn't tolerate nonsense" (p.116). She is politically involved. She sees something wrong in everything and trying to make a change "...she was writing to the congress man and to political dictators around the globe.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work