Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Tarzan of the Apes
Originally published 1914
Summary: The classic adventure of Tarzan, the child of English gentry raised by apes who combines the best of both worlds.
Thoughts: I read this for school and I was really interested to a. see how it related to our topics of imperialism and social Darwinism and b. compare it to the Disney film Tarzan.
Let's start with the second part; Disney definitely made good changes in my book. First they made Tarzan's mother a bit stronger. In the book she basically dies of weakness; that's all. There are not as many scenes of Tarzan fighting in the movie which would have been brutal for the young audience at which it is aimed. And the humans arrive much earlier in the film; additionally they cut out the unnecessary Mr Philander and the horrifically stereotyped Esmeralda. Clayton, the villain in the film, is an okay guy here although obviously not as heroic as Tarzan. The ending is also very different because this has twenty-two sequels!
As to the topics of my course, both can be seen here. The main thread is that Burroughs constantly (or at least it feels like) praises Tarzan's white male brain as being so superior to everyone else. He combines brutal strength with that magnificent brain in order to be king of the jungle and defeat all of his opponents. The African tribal people we see are cannibals, superstitious, and they don't wear many (or any?) clothes. Tarzan is shown as very obviously superior in his ability to manipulate them; this ability is his because he is white. There are other moments to mention but I don't want this to be a long academic review so I will end there.
Overall: It's an interesting adventure story with a suspenseful style but I don't love it. Worth a read if you see it in your library but not a must.
Cover: I like the green and the tree as representative of the jungle.