Animal Studies Bibliography

Burt, Marianna R. 1988. The animal as alter ego: Cruelty, altruism, and the work of art. In Andrew N. Rowan (Ed.), Animals and People Sharing the World (pp. 117-135). Hanover: University Press of New England.

Literature and art commonly employ an alter ego or double as a theme, and some of these involve animal-human doubles. When the doubling occurs in myth, animal masks and impersonations are used in ritual and stories include animal-human hybrids and bestiality. Animal doubles may also come from the observation that pets often look like their owners. Works of art may emphasize this similarity using color, shape, and other structural elements. Animals can be shown as doubles in both a portrait setting or in a situational one, in which animals echo or reinforce the humans' actions or feelings. The animal double is also often used in literature. One common theme is the identification of a child with an animal. Dealing with this relationship, often including the young animals' death or saving the animal from a bad situation, results in a parallel change in the child--in the former case, passage to adulthood, and in the latter, integration into society. Human-animal doubles may also be a vehicle to express personality issues. For example, an owner's abuse of a beloved animal may be used to express a conflicted personality and self-hatred (e.g. Camus, The Stranger ). Another such example is the parallel between Raskolnikov's dream about the beating of a mare and his murder of the pawnbroker and her sister in Crime and Punishment . Raskolnikov in this case both identifies with the mare and serves as its executioner through his attack on the women, demonstrating his conflicted feelings about his actions. Richard Wright uses animal doubles as well, often relating his characters' abuse of animals as a result of the abuse they have suffered from whites. The characters both inflict the abuse and identify with the suffering animal. One of the central roles for animals in these stories, then, is their ability to suffer, which is indicative of our general stance toward animals. Animal doubles are used to displace our uncontrollable drives onto something else in order to regain control of ourselves.



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