Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism manifests itself greatly in ‘Tarzan of the Apes’ displaying

1000 WordsApr 23, 20194 Pages
Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism manifests itself greatly in ‘Tarzan of the Apes’; displaying that even though Tarzan was born in Africa, he is different and superior to other Africans due to his genetic ancestry. Not only is Tarzan displayed as superior to black men, but he is also shown as superior to other white men as well - being displayed as a new ideal for the white man. The following will be examining Tarzan through Said’s theories of Orientalism - demonstrating that Burroughs treats black Africans as oriental others. The concept of orientalism is demonstrated through having the character Tarzan placed in an unfamiliar environment, where he must then overcome various circumstances. Tarzan is faced with not being as strong as…show more content…
This clearly displays the view that the white person is superior in all matters of life - even if it is not true. Tarzan begins the novel as an outlier, where he does not match that of the normal ape. Tarzan does not have the same ability as his cousins; however, though he may not have the brute strength of his fellow apes he is indeed more superior in knowledge. The knowledge that Tarzan gains with his ability to reason is what puts him above his fellow apes. Tarzan moves through the developmental stages from ape to man. As Tarzan grows and masters language he also masters his surroundings. Tarzan masters his skills to such an extent that he kills the leader of his tribe and declares himself king. This is the point where Burroughs has made Tarzan even an ideal for his fellow apes, because he is now their king. It is he who they look up to. However, it is shortly after this outcome that the black Africans join Tarzan in what he deems his jungle - where we are truly introduced to the definition of “othering” within the human race. Shortly after the black Africans have joined Tarzan, his mother, Kala is killed. Tarzan begins trailing the warrior Kulonga, who shot his mother, with a spear. Tarzan catches the character of Kulonga with a noose and drags him up into the trees. Once Kulonga is dead Tarzan prepares to eat him. Tarzan is hit with a sudden overwhelming wave of nausea; he could not bring himself to eat the flesh of the black man. This entices confusion

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