Analysis of The Histroy and Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales

1135 WordsJul 8, 20185 Pages
For Gerald of Wales, religion was one of the most essential aspects of being a civilized human being. Therefore, when he wrote, The History and Topography of Ireland, he portrayed its inhabitants as subhuman and barbaric during his apparent travels to Ireland. As a colonizer, Gerald picked a far away place in which many had not been to, in order to establish them as the “other”. Unfortunately, for Gerald, he may have ridiculed the Irish for their lifestyle conveyed in his writing, but his exploitation of them most likely was done because he could in fact relate to them. In the book, The Postcolonial Middle Ages, Jeffery Jerome Cohen’s analysis in his chapter, “Hybrids, Monsters, Borderlands: The Bodies of Gerald of Wales”, closely focuses…show more content…
Although, when explaining how the half man half ox came to be, the man having relations with the ox was not subject to dishonor, but instead it was said to just be “a particular vice of that people”(74). Here, Gerald suggests that although it was a man that acted dishonorably something beautiful came out of it, while the children of the bestial women are not spoken of most likely because they were so wretched. Gerald seems to be relating cultural hybridity to the act of interspecies crossbreeding, ultimately allowing the reader to relate it to filth. By showing different forms of miscegenation, Gerald makes each variation seem negative to his readers, which makes Ireland as a whole look like a place for hybrid “mongrels”. On one hand, Gerald may be ashamed of his own biological makeup, because of his parent’s filthy urges but, on the other hand, he still holds some confidence in the fact that because he is more involved with his Christianity, he could not possibly make the same ghastly choices that his parents and supposedly the Irish appeared to. He uses the Irish his book to make an example out of anyone involved in hybridity. According to Gerald, the Irish “are ignorant of the rudiments of the Faith” and “do not attend God’s church with due reverence”, but instead he repeatedly accuses them of “incestuous relations” and have “yet to pay tithes or first fruit or contract marriages” (106). He is upset with the Irish because he

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