Invasion

Salammbo, by Gabrial Joseph Marie Augustin Ferrier depicts an exotic scene of a woman with a snake wrapped around her body as a man plays an instrument in the background. The viewer can assume the man is controlling the snake with his music, a common foreign trope, as a way to manipulate and control the woman.

Similarly, Count Fosco likes to manipulate women and control them, whether it be by using force or deceiving them with his gentleness towards his pet mice and other animals. Marian, becomes less trusting of Fosco and his ability to manipulate her and other people. He dictates large parts of the narrative and even intrudes on Marian’s diary. By ambushing her private diary it proves the lengths he will go to control women.

The etching and the novel are both examples of how one can examine the relationship between Great Britain and the world around it. While things like the Crystal Palace were enjoyed and looked at as a spectacle, they also created fear of the foreign invading British land. Count Fosco serves as an example of the stereotypes that were given to foreigners and the atmosphere created around them.

Salammbo, Gabrial Ferrier

One thought on “Invasion”

  1. Your comparison between Fosco and the snake tamer is strong; there’s something specific that scares an audience about a villain’s ability to control animals. Too bad we didn’t have any cartoonish scenes where animals did tasks for Fosco (ala Disney). I think there’s something to be said about the connection between women and animals – I’m thinking of the scene with the dying dog and Marian, and then this painting with the woman and the snake. I wonder if that’s what makes animal-controlling villain so scary. Maybe it’s that a caring/respectful relationship between animals and humans is usually a female thing. So this villainy is foreign but also gender transgressing? I’m not sure.

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