Analysis Of Claude Levi Strauss ' Ideas Essay

Analysis Of Claude Levi Strauss ' Ideas Essay

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Claude Levi-Strauss’ ideas in reference to twins, hares and harelips and the relationship of the three is one which delves into the mythology of cultures whose similarities are more evident than meets the eye. The French anthropologist manages to relate North America with South America in a swift attempt to call the scope and range of both regions’ cultures as Pan-American mythology. He derives in Myth and Meaning, “In order to solve the problem, we have, as sometimes happens, to make a jump from South America to North America, because it will be a North American myth which will give us the clue to the South American..” (Strauss 26). In order to explain Strauss’ ideas, the details at hand must first be understood. Twins are two offspring which are the result of the same pregnancy; hares are herbivorous, long-eared, fast running leporids that typically live solitarily or in pairs; harelip is a colloquial term used to describe a cleft lip, a type of congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during the pregnancy of a woman. Through mythology, Strauss manages to relate the two and he begins by explaining the myth of the Indians of Peru who told a story of a woman being seduced and impregnated by a man not meant to be her husband. She was then impregnated again by the man she was supposed to marry and thus gave birth to twins who had different fathers and thus they had opposing features, both physically and mentally. He then goes to North America and analyzes a Salish version of a myth which recounts a story of two sisters who are both seduced by Tricksters and both give birth to separate boys, but because of the circumstance under which both boys were made, they can be considered twins. He draws the similarity there e...


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...ectics, dichotomies, or dualistic grids upon data that may in fact be entirely integrated” (Doniger VIII). Strauss would argue that language is universal and so universalist themes can be found and are present within all mythologies; a conjecture which he most accurately portrayed through his analysis of the hare, the harelip, and twins. These myths analyzed by Strauss can then be understood as very reflective of the methodologies which Strauss believed so wholeheartedly in. He focused on the language within the myths; the certain dichotomies that presented themselves synonymously. He would argue that it was no mere coincidence that they were so in relation, for the myths presented on the hare, the harelip, and twins all brought forth themes which unified the North American culture and South American culture into one Pan-American culture that explained the paradigms.

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