The aim of Susan Van Zanten Gallagher's article, "Torture and the Novel: J.M. Coetzee's 'Waiting for the Barbarians'" is to untangle further what the book Waiting for the Barbarians is saying about the human psyche and how the novel analyzes imperialism. By finding its fear on the issues about ethics and violence and discovering the bounds of human brutality, Waiting for the Barbarians tests humankind and imperialism in several ways. Offering a psychoanalytic debate of Waiting for the Barbarians, this reading concentrates on the influence of fear in human psyche and imperialism’s self-destructive influence. How far-off fear and anxiety can go and how far affiliates of society can follow a blind power is the main fear of this essay. As Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians is a figurative novel, this essay will try to understand the symbols created in relative to the pressures raised in the novel.
The analysis of the accounts raised in the book, may be broken down into the following main modules. After giving brief evidence about the writer and the book in the overview, the essay will carry on with observing the characters as targets of the Empire, which symbolizes the imperialist system. The first object is the barbarian girl, one in which will be studied in relation to her individualism as an outsider and as an enemy of the Empire. The Magistrate as the second victim and his self-journey will be perceived in relative to his calculation to come to be the other. Then in the next section, the Empire as the prey of itself and its self-destructive power will be recognized. At the conclusion, the knack to challenge issues will be discussed.
J.M. Coetzee is a South African writer born in Cape Town in 1940. In relative to the writer’s experience, it is important to note that, this essay takes in thought Coetzee’s objection against imperialism and makes an examination of Waiting for the Barbarians depending on his defiance towards it. I think in his novel Coetzee disapproves of the imaginary unknown Empire and by doing this actually he takes away from imperialist systems. Waiting for the Barbarians is a novel about the impression of the torture chamber on the life of a man of principles. The man of principles is the main hero of the novel who is an elderly Magistrate living in a two border township which is remote from other words, of an indeterminate Empire. He has accountability and authority of keeping the outpost for the provision of the Empire but then loses his authority when the Empire sent armed forces to defend the town from the barbarians. The protagonist disputes the unjust conduct of the barbarians even though the Empire perceives them as a hazardous tribe getting ready to attack the base and clash against the Empire. When he returns an arrested barbarian woman, he expresses sympathy and cares to her people, but is blamed for treason and imprisoned like the barbarians. He becomes the subject of cruelty, shame and suffering.
What is stimulating in the novel is that, the leading protagonist, at the end of his story, also turns out to be the other likewise the barbarian girl he cherished and aided in the beginning of his story. The Magistrate questions the power of the Empire by discovering himself against Colonel Joll and divides his view from the Empire’s in which by this action, his process of otherness begins. To unite the girl with her tribe he reaches a decision to make an excursion and pass through the remote desert to the barbarians which is thought to attack the outpost. Through the journey in the desert his limits to the Empire comes loose and when he enters the realm of the other lots of things change in his mind. Similar to this subconsciously hard journey, he also concludes a complex psychological journey of unravelling himself from the Empire and from its ethical understanding. After his return, his otherness is completed while he is now viewed as a traitor and he is look upon as...
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