The Human and Animal Worlds in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi Thesis

August 17, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Archetypes of the Human World and the Hierarchy of the Animal World

Yann Martel explores the human archetypes and the way the society or rather human beings develop through the way animals on Pi’s boat behave. The analysis of these behaviours makes it clear that the author follows major Darwin’s assumptions that that there is a great “difference in mind between man” and animals but it is the “one of degree and not of kind” (Darwin 151). Thus, Martel stresses that all animals and, as seen from the book, humans have the strongest instinct of survival. The author puts it as follows, “Life will defend itself no matter how small it is” (Martel 41). Thus, the animals on the boat and their behaviour reveal the degree of similarity between the world of animals and humans.
Thus, the boat hosts a hyena, an injured zebra, an orang-utan, a tiger and Pi. These animals can be seen as symbols and archetypes of humans. Thus, the injured zebra is an embodiment of a peaceful person. The wound it has makes it weak and the weak are often killed by stronger species. This is the manifestation of the hierarchy in the animal and human world, where the strongest and the fittest survives.

Thus, the zebra has to die and it is killed by the hyena. The orang-utan is a symbol of the female and the ability or rather need to protect her offspring (as well as those in need). Interestingly, this animal also reveals that the degree of the difference between animals can be significant due to such concepts as morality, ethics, faith and so on. Of course, there are animals (as well as people) that focus on their basic needs. Hyena is such an animal that attacks to survive. Such people do not follow any principles and they do not think about others as they focus on their own survival.

Richard Parker as a Complex Analysis of Taming One’s It

Richard Parker and the way Pi and the tiger cohabited on the boat is a symbol of the human nature. The author explores the characteristic features of a person as well as the way humans develop through the depiction of the tiger and Pi’s attempts to tame him.

It is possible to draw lines between this process of taming and Freudian ideas on the nature of the human. Thus, humans still pertain to the animal world and their “instincts originate from the id” (Dickerson 47). Superego is, on the contrary, is a set of rules assigned by the society. The rules are based on beliefs, principles and morals that were developed throughout centuries in this or that society.

Likewise, Pi tries to tame the tiger or rather his own id. The boy tries to remain a human and keep his inner beast completely tamed. The boy tries to become “a strongly dominant male, a super-alpha male” to make the tiger “submit to his dominance” (Martel 47). It is clear that at the beginning of the book, the boy was unable to control his id as the tiger simply kills the hyena. The instinct of survival makes the boy forget about his religious beliefs, morality and ethical principles. He acts as a beast to survive.

However, later the boy chooses to remain a human and he tries to tame his inner beast even though it is very difficult. Notably, at the end of the story, the tiger leaves and vanishes in the woods. This can be a symbol of quite complete success of taming as the boy gets rid of his id. However, it is important to remember that the tiger is still out there and it can appear any time. Pi’s inner beast can reappear in the moments of danger.

Bibliography

Aldea, Eva. Magical Realism and Deleuze: The Indiscernibility of Difference in Postcolonial Literature. London, UK: A&C Black, 2011. Print.

Armstrong, Philip. “The Gaze of Animals.” Theorizing Animals: Re-Thinking Humanimal Relations. Ed. Nik Taylor & Tania Signal. Danvers, MA: BRILL, 2011. 175-201. Print.

Armstrong, Philip. What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Baker, Steve. Picturing the Beast: Animals, Identity, and Representation. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1993. Print.

Bansal, Robin. “India Is a Horrible Place, Says Life of Pi Writer Yann Martel.” Hindustan Times 2012. Web.

Daiya, Krishna. “Life of Pi: A Spectacular Combination of Zoological Oddity, Religious Tolerance and Experimentalism.” Research Journal of English Language and Literature 1.3 (2013): 322-326. Print.

Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man: Selection in Relation to Sex. New York, NY: Penguin Classics, 2004. Print.

Da Silva, Pereira Ricardo. “Sailing with Tigers and Pirates: Resistance and Space in Treasure Island and Life of Pi.” Gaudium Sciendi 7 (2015): 162-176. Web.

De Berg, Henk. Freud’s Theory and Its Use in Literary and Cultural Studies: An Introduction. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2004. Print.

De Boever, Arne. States of Exception in the Contemporary Novel: Martel, Eugenides, Coetzee, Sebald. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2012. Print.

Dickerson, Leon. Freudian Concepts of Id, Ego and Superego Applied to Chemical and Other Addictions: Introducing Twelve-Step Programs as the Superego. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, Inc., 2006. Print.

Dwyer, June. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and the Evolution of the Shipwreck Narrative.” Modern Language Studies 35.2 (2005): 9-21. Print.

Fiamengo, Janice. “The Animals in This Country: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination.” Other Selves: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination. Ed. Janice Anne Fiamengo. Ottawa, Ontario: University of Ottawa Press, 2007. 1-29. Print.

Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism. New York, NY: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Huggan, Graham and Helen Tiffin. “Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015. Print.

Jordan, Justine. “Animal Magnetism.” The Guardian 2002. Web.

Ketterer, David. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Poe’s Pym (and “Berenice”).” Poe Studies 42.1 (2009): 80-86. Print.

Killoran, Ellen. “Yann Martel Talks ‘Life of Pi,’ ‘What Is Stephen Harper Reading?’ In Exclusive Interview: ‘Why It Matters That People in Power Read’.” International Business Times 2013. Web.

Koenigsberger, Kurt. The Novel and the Menagerie: Totality, Englishness, and Empire. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University, 2007. Print.

Leith, William. “How on Earth Did They Film Life of Pi? The Novel’s Author Yann Martel Reveals How It Was Finally Done.” Daily Mail 2012. Web.

Lorre, Christine. “In the Same Boat: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, the Canadian 2002 Man Booker Winner.” Pre and Post-publication Itineraries of the Contemporary Novel in English. Ed. Vanessa Guignery and Francois Gallix. Paris, France: Editions Publibook, 2007. 157-172. Print.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Toronto, Ontario: Knopf Canada, 2009. Print.

Mason, Travis V. “Lick Me, Bite Me, Hear Me, Write Me: Tracking Animals between Postcolonialism and Ecocriticism.” Other Selves: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination. Ed. Janice Anne Fiamengo. Ottawa, Ontario: University of Ottawa Press, 2007. 100-125. Print.

Mensch, James. “The Intertwining of Incommensurables: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Phenomenology and the Non-Human Animal: At the Limits of Experience. Ed. Corinne Painter and Christian Lotz. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Science & Business Media, 2007. 135-149. Print.

McFarland, Sarah E. “Animal Studies, Literary Animals, and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Environment. Ed. Louise Westling. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 152-166. Print.

Ouzounian, Richard. “Yann Martel Eternally Grateful for Life of Pi.” The Star 2014. Web.

“Q and A with Life of Pi Author.” ABC News. Web.

Rauwerda, Antje M. The Writer and the Overseas Childhood: The Third Culture Literature of Kingsolver, McEwan and Others. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012. Print.

Robbins, Jeffrey W. “Too Hard to Believe: A Reading of Religious Eclecticism in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Journal of Religion & Society 13.1 (2011): 1-8. Print.

Robinson, Jack. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi: Back in the World, Or ‘The Story with Animals is the Better Story.” Other Selves: Animals in the Canadian Literary Imagination. Ed. Janice Anne Fiamengo. Ottawa, Ontario: University of Ottawa Press, 2007. 125-145. Print.

Rohter, Larry. “Tiger in a Lifeboat, Panther in a Lifeboat: A Furor Over a Novel.” The New York Times 2002. Web.

Scherzinger, Karen and Colleen Mill. “Allegory, the Fantastic and Trauma in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa 18.1 (2013): 53-66. Print.

Schmitt, Brad. “Yann Martel: ‘Life of Pi’ a Window into Our Beliefs.” USA Today 2013. Web.

Stephens, Gregory. “Feeding Tiger, Finding God: Science, Religion, and ‘the Better Story’ in Life of Pi.” Intertexts 14.1 (2010): 41-59. Print.

Stratton, Florence. “Hollow at the core: Deconstructing Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Studies in Canadian Literature 29.2 (2004): 5-21. Print.

Suchocki, Marjorie Hewitt. Through a Lens Darkly: Tracing Redemption in Film. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2015. Print.

Sywenky, Irene. “Non-Human Animals and Liminal Cultural Space in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Victor Pelevin’s The Life of Insects.” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature 38.3 (2011): 381-395. Print.

Tiffin, Helen. “The Speech of Dumb Beasts.” Considering Animals: Contemporary Studies in Human–Animal Relations. Ed. Elizabeth Leane, Yvette Watt and Carol Freeman. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2013. 137-153. Print.

Thomas, Bindu Annie. “Territory and Power: Towards a Biocentric Reading of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi: A Novel.” Essays in Ecocriticism. Ed. Rayson K. Alex. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2007. 182-189. Print.

Wright, Laura. “Wilderness Into Civilized Shapes”: Reading the Postcolonial Environment. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2010. Print.

Read more
Leave a comment
Order Creative Sample Now
Choose type of discipline
Choose academic level
  • High school
  • College
  • University
  • Masters
  • PhD
Deadline

Page count
1 pages
$ 10

Price