A Lethal Carving Knife Analysis

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2. A Lethal Carving Knife Stabbing has had a long tradition in English cultural and literary imagination due to the sensationalistic effect that it produces. Bloody Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, especially the so-called ‘revenge plays’, which were highly popular at the time, could serve as solid evidence to substantiate this claim. Some two centuries later, bloodshed started to feature prominently in Victorian novels, mainly as a reflection of some particularly cruel real cases of domestic murder. Prose having an intricate plot, usually one constructed around some suspicious death, was bound to secure vast volume of sales (Walsh 93). Interestingly enough, readership’s taste has not changed much in this respect judging by the fact that this…show more content…
As far as the gender of victims and their assassins is concerned, judging by Walsh’s two concluding chapters (93 ff.; 123 ff.), we can presume that in cases of spousal murder, instances of mariticide were approximately equal to those of uxoricide. As for the means of murder, cases of stabbing invariably captured undivided public attention, probably because the brutality and savagery of such acts have the power to dull the readership’s voracious appetite for violence. The example of fictional stabbing that I will concentrate on is Tess of the D 'Urbervilles’ killing of her rapist Alec, with whom she was eventually forced to cohabitate in order to avoid starvation. I wish to stress that, even though both rape and murder are pivotal to this work, we should not regard Tess of the D 'Urbervilles as a sensation novel inasmuch as its plot does not revolve around the mystery surrounding these atrocities; rather than building up suspense, Thomas Hardy inspects the causes as well as the outcomes of these crimes with a view to…show more content…
According to Karl Duncker, who first studied this psychological phenomenon, functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that prevents us from using an object in a new way and it can be either heterogeneous or homogenous, depending on the degree of similarity between the original and the new action (85 ff.). I will try to illustrate this distinction on the object under study in this essay. On the one hand, a knife used lieu of a ruler to draw a straight line, functions heterogeneously; on the other hand, in the case of Tess of the D’Urberville, where the eponymous protagonist uses a carving knife to slaughter her lover, the fixedness is homogenous, since the new function – the cutting of a person’s tissue – is akin to the primary one – the cutting of roasted ham, that is if we exclude ethical aspects, of course. Hence, we can conclude that on the table, the carving knife is perceived as a part of a cutlery set, but when stabbed in Alec’s heart, it turns into a deadly weapon, owing to the ‘transfer’ that took place
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