McTeague, or Animalism - Unpublished
The last decade of the twentieth century in America saw a rise in programs for human's "self betterment." A popular form of betterment is that of the inner animal. Interest in Native American animal mysticism, vision quests, and totem animals have increased dramatically in the past few years. No forms of media have been spared; Calvin Klein's supermodels come on during sitcom commercials to tell viewers they need to be a beast, or to get in touch with their animal within. In the last decade of the nineteenth century, however, animalism was viewed not as a method of self-improvement but as the reprehensible side of humanity that lingered beneath the surface, waiting for an opportune time to come out and play. In Frank Norris' novel McTeague, humans are no better than the beasts they claim to control. They cage and torment defenseless creatures, but cage and torment themselves far, far, worse. McTeague, Trina, Zerkow, and Marcus are animals in thin human's clothing, walking the forests of McTeague, waiting for the opportunity to shed their skin and tear each other apart, while the real animals of the world continue leading lives far superior to their human counterparts.
McTeague, the title character of the work, is the king of beasts in San Francisco. A charlatan dentist who constantly mumbles and growls when speaking, he makes his living by causing great pain to his fellow human beings. The woman he falls in love with, Trina Sieppe, is a patient in his chair. McTeague's love is spawned from the agony of false orthodontics. Although etherized, Trina experiences the hurt of McTeague's drills. As he works his macabre work on the beautiful girl, McTeague begins to see her as more and more attractive. The pain is a sexual catalyst for McTeague; like an animal on the hunt, he becomes aroused by the suffering he causes Trina. The instinct to take advantage of the defenseless girl becomes overpowering, and he...
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