- 허만 멜빌의 엔칸타다스에 나타난 문명 비판
- Alternative Title
- Herman Melville's Criticism of Civilization in The Encantadas
- Issued Date
- The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles, a novella written by Herman Melville, is based on his experience of visiting the Galapagos Islands in 1841. The Galapagos Islands are famous as the site where Charles Darwin discovered and developed the theory of evolution by observing the wild animals there. Whereas the purpose of scientific inquiry is to establish a systematic knowledge through observation, Melville in the novella appropriates scientific discourses to elicit more possibilities and different perspectives on nature and human beings. Melville seems to employ scientific discourses including zoology and statistics in his observation of the Galapagos as if he were a scientist like Darwin
at the same time, however, he relies on diverse materials of literature, philosophy, religion, mythology and the history of the islands to examine both nature and human beings.
Through his description of the bleak nature of the Galapagos created by the volcanic activities, Melville reveals the avarice of a group of people who come to the islands. Starting with a distant view of the islands, The Encantadas consists of 10 episodic sketches and each sketch depicts each island with its animal inhabitants and human visitors. Although the narrator seems to take the eyes of a scientist who uses a telescope or a microscope, the portrayal of the barrenness of the Galapagos reflects Melville's critical attitude toward human society. Charles Darwin took interest in the possibilities of colonizing and incorporating the Galapagos into the British Empire and was obsessed with filling the islands into the map. In contrast, interested in portraying how the islands appear to change their shapes depending on the light and distance, Melville interprets them with the magical power of imagination and literary devices such as allusion and symbol.
Melville shows how Rock Rodondo looks different depending on different perspectives and how its inhabitants such as penguins, birds, and fish resemble the stratified human society. He also criticizes American and European advocates of slavery. The Encantadas abounds with examples which illustrate Melville’s idea that human beings cannot be understood with an one-sided view and approach. Episodes of diverse visitors including an ambitious colonist, a corrupt hermit, 'rejuvenating' and transforming buccaneers, and an abandoned Chola widow reveal Melville’s in-depth literary approach. Through this strategy, he presents the possibility of interpreting or decoding the symbolic meanings of the Galapagos in various ways beyond the superficial observation of the islands.
The representative example of this strategy can be found in his description of Galapagos tortoises. The mark on the back of Galapagos tortoises seems to bring "memento ****" to the narrator's mind. However, by leaving the word "mori" blank, Melville seeks to point out how its meaning is unfixed and cannot be limited into a symbol for the mortality of human beings. Melville closes the last sketch with the description of post offices and tombstones scattered throughout the islands. Through the emphasis on these remnants of human civilization, Melville depicts the Encantadas or enchanted isles as symbolic space that embodies his critique of human corruption and avarice rather than a Darwinian praise for human evolution.
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