Venus Hottentot Analysis

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Suzan Lori Parks’ play, Venus Hottentot, depicts a life of a native African woman named Saartjie Bartman, who travelled to Europe by deception, and was exploited first as an ugly creature for a show and then as an object of study for anatomists. Saartjie Baartman was born in 1789 in Eastern Cape of South Africa, and worked on a Dutch colonial farm. As a teenager, Saartjie attracted the attention of a ship’s doctor, William Dunlop, who is represented in the play as The Man. William Dunlop expecting to make fortune on Saartjie’s unusual for Europeans body deceived Saartjie and took her to England, where she was exhibited in a freak show. Then, in 1814 Saartjie was sold to George Cuvier, Napoleon’s surgeon, who I represented in the play as The…show more content…
In the play, The Mother-Showman says: “The ugliest creatures in creativity. Alive! See a living misfit with yr own eyes.” During another show The Mother-Showman says: “She’s been in civilization a whole year and still hasn’t learnt nothing! The very lowest rung on Our Lords Great Evolutionary Ladder! I kick her like I kick my dog!” African people were viewed as uncivilized beasts, thus, inferior to Europeans. Further, criticizes racism based on differences in physical appearance. In the play The Negro Resurrectionist recalls a historical extract of Robert Chambers that says: “With an intensely ugly figure, distorted beyond all European notions of beauty…” Further, because of African people inferiority, it was believed that they had less developed anatomical structure. The Baron Docteur during his study of Hottentot’s biological anatomy writes: “The condition of … presented rather anomalous character. This condition interests us because of well-known fact that in the chimpanzee, and all inferior Primates, a considerable portion of this muscle…” Finally, Parks highlights the difference in the language that the play is written. When African people, The Chorus of the 8 or Venus Hottentot, speak there is a distortion in the language. For instance, The Chorus of the 8 Human Wonders say: “When I was birthed intuh this World.” Here the distortion is represented by “uh” sound. However, when the characters of white people speak there is no distortion of
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