It gives rise to strange sensations when we transfer the body into an emotional language, a coded language that no longer seems common. Maybe it reveals a certain vulgar emotional truth about our own perceived deformities as well as providing a certain voyeuristic satisfaction, in seeing grotesque monsters more than wholesome human beings making their way through life as best they can. For some reason it confronts us with the presence of death, mortality, the phoniness of innocence, of privilege, invidious relationships, barriers to communication and the plasticity and malleability of reality. In film, it would be the in-between space between script and montage, that confrontation with the irrational dimension.
…But are dwarfs and hunchbacks archetypally the same–not entirely, for though Igor could have been merely a dwarf, we could not have had “Snowwhite and the Seven Hunchbacks.” However, conceptions do overlap. For one thing, being hunchbacked is likely to create the appearance of dwarfishness, because it does reduce height. Further, the two traits often appear together–the poet Alexander Pope and the actor Michael Dunne are examples. And the dwarf of tradition is often pictured as bowed from carrying a heavy bag. As an earth creature it is appropriate that the dwarf should look toward the earth. Ovid tells us in the first book of the Metamorphosis that man’s nature retains some particles of the heavenly essence, and for that reason only, he of all the animals is designed to look upward. The hunchback, however, looks down, and the dwarf, even when not bent under a load, is apt to be working in the earth, or working with the substance of the earth, like Regin the dwarf/smith in Wagner’s opera. The dwarf as smith is a common conception both in folklore and Norse myth….
…We have a dual sense of ourselves–first as an archetypal pattern apart from mere matter, and second as a physical being. Deformity assaults out sensibilities because it radically violates the form, that which sets us apart from mere matter. Most deformities, at least, can be looked upon as a deformity of the part; the hunchback’s deformity is central to the whole structure. ….
…The moneylender of tradition is stoop shouldered if not hunchbacked. The Shylock of stage tradition was presented as stooped, red-haired, and long-nosed…. The long nose, a typical feature of the traditional dwarf, is of course phallic in association….
…The relationship between sex and money is perhaps not immediately apparent, but it exists, and it provides the dynamic behind the work of many novelists. Some decades ago, Harold Robbins made a whole career of writing second rate best sellers with the money+sex theme….
…And, recall, The Merchant of Venice is primarily a love story. Sex, of course, is one of the lower functions, and the phallic nose indicates that the lower functions predominate visibly, and in what should be the higher part of the body. The propaganda value of picturing Jews as long-nosed as well as stoop-shouldered is not the implication that they are Eastern in origin, but that they are hoarders of gold, that is, their attention is downward, like the dwarf of the Ring Gold, in Wagner….
…Down is a direction we have very mixed feelings about; the fundament is the realm of corruption as opposed to the firmament; yet we must get down to fundamentals (get our sh
ogether, some might say) before we can accomplish anything. The association between gold and excrement is well known in psychology, and is the symbolic center of Dickens’ novel Our Mutual Friend, with its wealthy gatherer of garbage and excrement, “The Golden Dustman.” …Read More:http://meadhall.homestead.com/Hunchbacks.html
…to take examples from Fear Factor—such as being dragged by a horse; lying in a pit full of rats, a coffin full of worms, a hole with snakes; and eating sheep’s eyes, buffalo testicles, cockroaches, and horse rectum. When Nathanael West has his pilgrim hero in The Dream Life of Balso Snell enter through the rectum into the lower intestine of the Trojan Horse the incident serves as the inception of a grotesque odyssey through American culture, not as a stunt merely in the hope of prize money. Instead of the grotesque in its traditional senses, a current
reader and observer is much more likely to encounter the gratuitous and the utterly ridiculous and on occasion the monstrous as the signs now of our times. Read More:http://www.ohiostatepress.org/books/Book%20PDFs/Goodwin%20Modern.pdf