Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Question 5: What is the madman criticizing? Is this story about actual Cannibalism? etc…

I would have to agree with Chad and say that the madman is criticizing the way that Chinese people have run their country based on closed-minded tradition and that they are not open to change and new ideas. I think that strong evidence for this metaphoric reading of the text can be seen in all Xun’s allusions to classical Chinese texts. The reader is able to observe that the main character is being driven crazy, and he is able to support his craziness by constantly referencing texts that supposedly prove that cannibalism exists and is rampant in China. The classical texts serve as symbols of the oppressive tradition that exists in China. However, I believe that this story is much more than just a metaphor. When I read the text, it reminded me quite a bit of the Edgar Allen Poe stories that I have read. Xun does an excellent job of creating an eerie tale in which the delusional, paranoid protagonist is portrayed with vivid detail. Not only did Xun make an extended metaphor, but he also crafted an extremely entertaining, and probably profitable, short story.

People do many things that make them cannibalistic. While I realize that Xun metaphorically defined the oppressive Chinese traditions to be cannibalistic, I would describe cannibalism today in much more concrete terms. I would describe any profession that feeds off of or takes advantage of those in need as cannibalistic. For example, people who are lone sharks, pimps, and even those who run corporations that utilize slave labor could all be considered cannibalistic. Any human being who uses another human being for personal or material gain, rather than treating that human as a living person, should rightly be called a cannibal.

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