and the hunchback gets the girl

This symbol of the lower realm of thought. The central quality, deformity, forcing and unremitting gaze on the earth, on nature, on material, on what we mainly regard as the malevolent and dangerous. The wild, untamed. The deformity of the hunchback contradicts our sensibilities since it returns the human condition to the state of mere matter, the carnal, the phallic and yet there is an attraction to these inhabitants of the collective unconscious. If we deny this part of ourselves as human, we are in danger of extinction, yet too much empathy, a touching of excessive humility and pity means an aspiration beyond the limits of substance, our own fear of the unknown and knowledge of unworthiness, exaltation of spirit, and perhaps an almost pure claim to love; valid, since through the hunchback there is no assertion of worthiness….

---Tod Browning’s 1932 Pre-Code classic Freaks is usually labelled a horror movie, but we’d argue that it’s actually an incredibly tender tale of betrayal, friendship and unrequited love. Browning cast real sideshow performers in most all of the supporting roles (and even a few leads), and the sideshow performers are portrayed far more sympathetically than the so-called “normal” characters. It was in part the unexpected humanization of the circus performers that made the film so shocking to contemporary audiences, who were particularly horrified by an infamous scene in which the outsiders band together to avenge one of their brothers.--- Image: Read More:

Wal. How know you me for Master Walter? By
My hunchback, eh!–my stilts of legs and arms,
The fashion more of ape’s than man’s? Aha!
So you have heard them, too–their savage gibes
As I pass on,–”There goes my lord!” aha!
God made me, sir, as well as them and you.
‘Sdeath! I demand of you, unhand me, sir! ( The Hunchback. Stanley Sheridan Knowles )

…Eventually and much to his surprise, Captain Snow experienced past life memories during the regression that were powerful and clear. He recalled several different lifetimes, but the one that was most prominent was as a portrait painter in what seemed to be the 19th century. Captain Snow remembered 28 specific details regarding this lifetime as an artist. One of the specific memories involved painting the portrait of a hunchback woman. Captain Snow vividly remembered the experience, including his questioning why someone so unattractive would want a portrait painted….

Caroll Beckwith. Read More:

…Snow treated the past life regression experience as he would a detective case. He methodically examined art books, visited art galleries and contacted art dealers, searching for the portrait of the hunchback woman or some other clue. Captain Snow, though, was unable to identify any historical artist consistent with the regression persona. After a yearlong period of research, Snow came to a dead end. He concluded that it was unlikely that he would be able to identify the artist experienced during his regression….

---‘The little Hunchback dining with the Taylor is choak’d with a Fish Bone’ (also titled in french) After a drawing by Henry William Bunbury (1750-1811) for the Arabian Nights Entertainment series. Engraved by Simon Watts Published 1st Feb 1787 at No 50,--- Read More:

…At that point in time, Captain Snow’s wife, Melanie, suggested that they take a vacation trip to New Orleans. The arrangements were made. …In the setting of an art gallery in the French Quarter, Captain Snow had another profound experience. This incident demonstrates how people can be guided, apparently by spiritual sources, in endeavors such as reincarnation research. In an art gallery that Captain Snow wandered into by apparent chance, he viewed the portrait of the hunchbacked woman, which was identical to the one he vividly saw in his past life regression. …

Hunchback Fiddler. Cornelis Pietersz. ---Zizek:In his reading of Kafka, Benjamin focuses on “a long series of figures with the prototype of distortion, the hunchback”: “Among the images in Kafka’s stories, none is more frequent than that of the man who bows his head far down on his chest: the fatigue of the court officials, the noise affecting the doormen in the hotel, the low ceiling facing the visitors in the gallery.” It is crucial to remember here that, in the encounter between the man from the country and the guardian of the Door of the Law, it is the guardian, the figure of authority, who is hunched, not the man from the country, who stands upright. (This point is noted by the priest in his debate with Josef K. that follows the parable on the Door of the Law in The Trial: the priest makes it clear that it is the guardian who is subordinated here, playing the role of a servant.) We should therefore not idealize the disfigured “creature” into a pathetic figure of the marginalized, excluded from full humanity, the object of solidarity with the victim—if anything, the creaturely hunchback is the prototype of the servant of Power Read More: image:

…Wal. Thought like my father, my good lord, who said
He would not have a Hunchback for his son -
So do I pardon you the savage slight.
My lord, that I am not as straight as you,
Was blemish neither of my thought nor will,
My head nor heart. It was no act of mine. -
Yet did it curdle Nature’s kindly milk
E’en where ’tis ric

–in a parent’s breast -
To cast me out to heartless fosterage,
Nor heartless always, as it proved–and give
My portion to another! the same blood -
But I’ll be sworn, in vein, my lord, and soul -
Although his trunk did swerve no more than yours -
Not half so straight as I. ( Knowles )


The little hunchback is a reference in Benjamin‟s autobiographical texts. It is closely connected with his presumed ineptitude for practical life. In the Berlin Chronicle he mentions his “very poor sense of direction”. And he says: “On her [i. e. his mother] I lay the blame for my inability even today to make a cup of coffee; to her propensity for turning the most insignificant items of conduct into tests of my aptitude for practical life I owe the dreamy recalcitrance with which I accompanied her as we walked through the streets rarely frequented by me, of the city center” Read More:

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…Heaven did send a son
To bless the heir. Heaven took its gift away,
He died–his father died. And Master Walter -
The unsightly agent of his lordship there -
The Hunchback whom your lordship would have stripped
Of his agency–is now the Earl of Rochdale!

Tin. We’ve made a small mistake here. Never mind,
‘Tis nothing in a lord.

Julia. The Earl of Rochdale!

Wal. And what of that? Thou know’st not half my greatness!
A prouder title, Julia, have I yet,
Sooner than part with which I’d give that up,
And be again plain Master Walter. What!
Dost thou not apprehend me? Yes, thou dost!
Command thyself; don’t gasp. My pupil–daughter!
Come to thy father’s heart!

[JULIA rushes into his arms.]

[Enter FATHOM.]

Fath. Thievery! Elopement–escape–arrest! ( Knowles )


Michael Dunn. Read More:

We might suppose that it is spite and envy that typically makes the hunchback of story so malevolent, as is the case with Homer’s hunchback in the Iliad, Thersites, but apparently not. The hunchback is more often not malevolent and cruel in a sour, grudging way, but with real verve and enjoyment. His delight in suffering has an almost innocent exuberance. His cruelty is the cruelty of nature itself. Nature is cruel–is innocence? We know too well that it is–innocence is good and it is cruel, not simply a literary paradox, but a real one. To the extent that vice is something learned, nature is virtuous, as is Perdita; but to the extent that virtue is something learned, nature is wicked and cruel, as is the hunchback. …

…But what do hunchbacks have to do with lovers? First, the hunchback represents nature–one side of our paradoxical view of it, the view that nature is the brute condition we must cultivate, educate, moralize ourselves out of. And yet, howeever crooked, cruel, imperfect nature is, we can not afford to get too far from it, for it is the strong, vital base of our being.

…But lovers? I had always assumed that Igor, Aminadab, and other such beings existed as shadows to the scientist, physical nature as opposed to spirit and intellect, but the figure on the Tarot suggests that there is also an association with the scientist as lover. What has already been said, however, suggests an explanation. Love is spiritual–or is it? On the one hand, we associate love with the upper half of the body–head, heart, eyes, soul, emotions; on the other hand, with those lower parts of the body which are not very nice, but are none the less fundamental….

…Although the hunchback as an archetypal figure is inseperable from, and is clearly a subspecies of, the archetypal dwarf, he, unlike the dwarf, is nearly always associated with stories of love. And, far more frequently than the dwarf, he is a lover, himself, sometimes successful. Cousin Laymon, the hunchback in Carson McCullers’ Ballad of the Sad Cafe, has little difficulty winning the love of the heroine, though he later deserts her for her estranged husband. …

…Herr Friedman, knowing that he can not lead an ordinary physical life, puts all that aside and attempts to live entirely through t he arts and aesthetic pleasure. In stories of hunchbacks, however, the life of the body will have its due and, as we could have predicted, Herr Friedman does ultimately succumb to physical attraction. He falls for a woman who has given him some encouragement. She rejects him, and that fact destroys him.

By far the most famous hunchback is, of course, the hunchback of Notre Dame. In this story both the hunchback and t he priest who has raised him are in love with a gipsy girl. The girl, herself, loves a fickle soldier, whose desertion of her in her time of need contrasts very poorly with the heroic defense the hunchback gives her. The hunchback, as a purely physical creature, is ennobled by his ove, since it puts him in touch with the higher functions; the priest, as a spiritual being, is debased by his love, since it places him in touch with the lower functions.

The hunchback lacks the usual maliciousness, but he can hardly be considered a part of the moral order, and in several scenes he shows the traditional capacity for violence and cruelty. His last act in the story is a murder; he hurls the priest down from the top of the cathedral. The reader does not greatly blame him, partially because the act has considerable justification, but also because we don’t really consider him morally responsible. Read More:

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