Jane Campion's The Piano - A Metaphor for European Domination

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Jane Campion's The Piano - A Metaphor for European Domination

The exact nature of the encounters between Captain James Cook and the Polynesian natives of Hawaii as well as all interactions and exchanges between Europeans and native Polynesian peoples of the Pacific while Cook was exploring the islands of Hawaii and after has been investigated by anthropologists and historians for many years. Captain Cook died at the hand of Polynesian natives while he was at Hawaii in 1779. Marshall Sahlins stated that Cook was seen as the god Lono during the celebration of the Makahiki festival taking place at the time of Cook’s visit. Gananath Obeyesekere, in his noted work, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in the Pacific, argues
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Director Jane Campion places a motif throughout her film The Piano that is preoccupied by power struggles between males and females and European colonists and indigenous people. The "Prospero" syndrome is seen in attitudes of the Europeans regarding their belief that European culture, ideology, and religious practices are the only standards of behavior deemed acceptable for human beings, women in particular. The piano then becomes a symbol for the taboos that are placed on the Europeans and their lives. The character of Ada is placed at the center of a struggle between a male character who fully embodies the Kurtz persona with tattoos, close friendships with the Maori, and uninhibited sexual overtures, and one who clings to English ways. Harvey Keitel portrays this character, named Baines, while Sam Neill plays his foil. The character of Stewart embodies the Prospero persona by maintaining an ever-present "businesslike" relationship with the Maori and punishing those who transgress his code of conduct. The punishment of Flora, Ada’s daughter for misbehaving and simulating her mother’s sexual behavior and of Ada herself for loving Baines while conducting and affair at he same time with Stewart himself places a black mark
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