Good morning to fellow classmates. Today I will be talking about the usage of the animal metaphor to examine race in Maus. The metaphor of Jews as mice is taken directly from Nazi propaganda, which portrayed the Jews as a kind of vermin to be exterminated. The purpose of using this metaphor is therefore to undermine the Nazi propaganda by ironically going with it. So the Jews are depicted as mice, but Spiegelman shows the humanity of the mice – their innocence, their vulnerability, their tragic situation. Using different animals as different races also highlights the total separation of the different racial communities in society. While this may reflect the reality of the situation back then in Poland, the danger with using this metaphor is that it seems to inadvertently support the racist idea that there is a fundamental separation between the races. In Maus, Spiegelman tries to avoid these negative racial connotations of the mouse metaphor, while using the positive connotations of the metaphor to emphasize the humanity of the Jews.
Spiegelman’s use anthropomorphic animals draws on an old tradition. The idea behind it seems to be that certain animals are seen to be symbolic of certain human traits. By using animals, it makes us question what it is to be human, but it also allows iconic identification with the characters. The novel has not made the topic of Holocaust representation any less sensitive and opinions are as varied as the people presenting them. Some people have criticized Spiegelman's animal work as (literally) dehumanizing the Holocaust, while some critics in Germany of these two works have said the animal metaphors made an incomprehensible subject more understandable. The novel is problematic, since comics' strengths do not lie in documentation and realism, rather in interpretation, reduction and abstraction.
The animal metaphor emphasizes the separation of the different racial groups in the text. Thus, social division in Poland is shown...
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