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The Foreigner: A Sacrifice For Society’s Unity

1559 words - 6 pages

It lurks outside the city walls, striking fear into the hearts of the community and the people band together united in opposition to this abomination. What is this figure that grips an entire city with fear enough to bind them together? This would be the foreigner, or the representation of the foreign figure. By foreigner, I am not specifically referring to a person from a foreign place, but instead I refer to the idea of a foreign character that dominates all societies throughout history. Every community has a fable, or person that embodies all their fears and imperfections within society. The witch in the dark forest, the hermit in the run down home, or the monster that lurks through the night, all of these figures serve as scapegoats for the imperfections or fears within society that prevent them from uniting as a community. The figure of the foreigner is used by authors and directors to serve as a model with which to develop a political or social commentary. Within both Waggner’s classic film The Wolf Man and Cervantes’ The Dialogue of the Dogs the figure of the foreigner is depicted in two parts. The first part of the foreigner is scapegoated by society in an attempt to unify the people through transference of societal imperfections thus making the foreigner embody all the negative aspects of society. The second component places the foreigner as a threat to this unity when it enters into the confines of the society which forces the citizens to face their imperfections leading to the foreigner being hunted in attempt to restore that unity.
Waggner’s The Wolf Man has a very straightforward depiction of the foreigner through the character of Larry because the two aspects of the foreigner are represented within two separate physical forms. The first stage of the foreigner, the representation of the negative aspects of society, is portrayed through Larry’s human form. Waggner presents Larry as the less intelligent and uncouth younger brother that has returned from America to fill his late brother’s shoes. Larry embodies the negative aspects present within both his family and his father’s sovereignty over the community. At two points of during the film, Larry states that he cannot comprehend theory and prefers “working with tools” which places is him among the working class instead of with the nobility of his family. Later as Larry begins his descent into madness, his father refuses to acknowledge the imperfections of his last son and attempts to force normalcy upon him. As a noble family, Sir Talbot must have one remaining son in order to have a successor which leads to his refusal to let Larry leave the town regardless of the imperfections present within his character. Larry also represents the negative aspects of his father’s sovereignty because his imperfections and weakness in character force his father to kill him in the end. This represents the end of the Talbot’s ruling line because there are no heirs to inherit the seat of power. When...

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