Essay on On the Cannibals by Michel de Montaigne

Essay on On the Cannibals by Michel de Montaigne

Length: 1683 words (4.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In Montaigne’s essay On the Cannibals, the critical analysis of European and Brazilian societies through the scope of the “other” establishes the distinction between the two worlds. However, the definitions of “self” and “other” quickly become blurred as Montaigne connected more synonymous aspects in governance and functioning of the two groups of people. By labeling the outsiders as the “self” and accepting their formalities as the norm, he undermines the Europeans as the “other” and uses the Barbarians to examine the civilized with an untainted perspective, enabling close scrutiny and analysis of both societies. It is through this definition that Montaigne is initially able to offer criticism of the ignorance of European arrogance and assumed superiority over the Barbarians. Montaigne concludes that the civilized and uncivilized both possess aspects that deviate from the idealized state of purity of Nature. The Europeans are far more corrupted but upon further introspection, the Cannibals are evolving towards the same nature of developing a more inorganic society. Therefore, the definition of the “self” offers a more profound understanding of the Barbarians and dismisses the importance of Montaigne’s society while stating the inevitability of transitioning to a more developed culture like the Europeans by the Barbarians.
The “stranger” as defined by Montaigne’s essay is the Europeans who ignorantly consider their society to be the center and apex. To the cannibalistic natives who operate a society that is much more primitive than the Europeans and who are concerned with the mere rudimentary aspects of life, the European society is peculiar. The Europeans “consent to obey a boy” (p.240) and have extreme social injustice where “...


... middle of paper ...


...er” becomes the Barbarians. If the strangers were the Cannibals, then the status quo of the French society is preserved and the cannibalistic behaviors of the foreigners become unconventional. This is assuming the belief that the Europeans are the norm. By identifying the “self” and the “other”, he first sets the differences between the two and then blurs them to state that the universal human posses characteristics of both societies and that one is not necessarily more civilized than the other. As the essay progresses, the coming together of the Barbarian and the European suggests that the Cannibals are closer to the operations of Nature but will eventually progress toward the same society structure as the one present in Europe. He therefore addresses the universal human by examining both societies but not offering an absolute standard for which is more barbaric.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis : On The Cannibals, By Johnathan Swift And Michel De Montaigne Essay

- ... Despite this underlying cause, religion is only a supporting idea in each essay, barely mentioned by Swift and briefly mentioned my Montaigne. Instead, each author focuses very heavily on the societal divide between two groups based on a belief of superiority by one party over the other. This belief is used by each author differently; Montaigne compares the civilized man to the savage using his own people and a foreign people from a recently discovered mass of land, while Swift compares to differing classes within the same society he belongs to....   [tags: Satire, Jonathan Swift, Michel de Montaigne]

Better Essays
1097 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on On the Cannibals by Michel de Montaigne

- In Montaigne’s essay On the Cannibals, the critical analysis of European and Brazilian societies through the scope of the “other” establishes the distinction between the two worlds. However, the definitions of “self” and “other” quickly become blurred as Montaigne connected more synonymous aspects in governance and functioning of the two groups of people. By labeling the outsiders as the “self” and accepting their formalities as the norm, he undermines the Europeans as the “other” and uses the Barbarians to examine the civilized with an untainted perspective, enabling close scrutiny and analysis of both societies....   [tags: critical essay analysis]

Better Essays
1683 words (4.8 pages)

Brazilians in Michel de Montaigne's Essay Of Cannibals

- Brazilians in Michel de Montaigne's Essay "Of Cannibals" When describing native Brazilian people in his 1580 essay, “Of Cannibals,” Michel de Montaigne states, “Truly here are real savages by our standards; for either they must be thoroughly so, or we must be; there is an amazing distance between their character and ours” (158). Montaigne doesn’t always maintain this “amazing” distance, however, between savages and non-savages or between Brazilians and Europeans; he first portrays Brazilians as non-barbaric people who are not like Europeans, then as non-barbarians who best embody traditional European values, and finally as barbarians who are diametrically opposed to Europeans....   [tags: Montaigne Essay Cannibals Bazilians Essays]

Better Essays
1317 words (3.8 pages)

Purity and Civility in The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus and Of Cannibals by Michel de Montaigne

- Purity and Civility in The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus and Of Cannibals by Michel de Montaigne Both in “The Praise of Folly” by Desiderius Erasmus and “Of Cannibals” by Michel de Montaigne-relating to the common point to which attention is tried to be drawn-inquiry of true civility with regards to the Nature and its necessity according to certain circumstances are substantiated. First of all,Erasmus stating “Truly,to destroy the illusion is to upset the whole play.The masks and costumes are precisely what hold the eyes of the spectators.” Aspires to put forward the idea that there is a definite pact between people-which can be rather called as a concious...   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
1043 words (3 pages)

Savages? Cannibals? Barbarians? Oh My!: Montaigne and His Ideas about Society

- In The Complete Essays Michel de Montaigne questions societies ideas about what is right and good in society with the knowledge of the existence of a cannibalistic culture from the “New World”. This completely different civilization shapes his ideas about his own society. Montaigne wants people to take this practically alien civilization and use it as a mirror for their own ideas of what is right and how they conduct themselves. The introduction of a culture so drastically different from what the Europeans were used to called into question the rightness of their ways....   [tags: the complete essays of Michel de Montaigne]

Better Essays
999 words (2.9 pages)

Of Cannibals: Looking in the Mirror Essay example

- During the mid 1500's, French nobleman Michel de Montaigne1 travelled from Europe to the newly 'found' American territories. There he was met with the newly colonized peoples of the Americas, also known as the Brazilian "barbarians", a term coined by the Europeans2 whom had traveled there. Montaigne quickly shaped his own view of this group of peoples, and almost as quickly put his opinion in front of many noble Europeans in the form of an essay known as "Of Cannibals"3 . His essay challenged the haughty denigration of the Brazilian cannibals that had grown to be so common among Montaigne's contemporaries, but not by arguing that cannibalism was a morally acceptable practice....   [tags: Michel de Montaigne, Brazilian barnarians]

Better Essays
800 words (2.3 pages)

In defense of the Indians by Las Casas and On the Cannibals by Montaigne

- Acceptance and understanding are major factors that must be met in order for people to come together. In many circumstances, it is up to the minority whom are joining the majority to adopt and change its customs and practices in order to assimilate into the majority. However, there are some circumstances in which the minority somehow becomes able to overpower majority and take control. This is the situation which occurred between the Natives and the Europeans during the 1513 conquest. The Spanish Conquest of Central and South America and the voyage to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought the Spanish crown a great amount of wealth....   [tags: Conquest of New World]

Better Essays
1343 words (3.8 pages)

Peter De Montaigne And Jonathan Swift Essays

- ... From the account of his trusted traveler Durand De Villegagnon, who spent twelve years with the native people in the New World, Montaigne proclaims that, “there is nothing savage or barbarous about those people, but that every man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to” (Montaigne 61). The Europeans formed a negative prejudice towards the customs of the native people they stumbled upon during exploration, only because they were different from their own. With this the Europeans declared it their job to change the natives lives “for the better” by showing them how people ought to live, however blinded by their own ignorance they failed to realize that their own way of living was...   [tags: Jonathan Swift, Satire, Michel de Montaigne]

Better Essays
1258 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on Of the Cannibals

- The article "Of the Cannibals" from Michel Eyquem de Montaigne speaks about two major problems. The first one is the problem of men telling stories subjectively instead of objectively. This problem is dealt with only in very short and there is no real solution presented in the essay. The other problem is men calling others barbarous just because they are different. The essay also deals with the word "barbarism" and what can be meant by that. Eyquem de Montaignes' thesis is that his own countrymen are not less or more barbarous than cannibals, which are still very close to nature and to the origin of life....   [tags: World Literature]

Better Essays
670 words (1.9 pages)

Essay on Writings of Martin Luther versus Michel de Montaigne

- A Comparison of the Writings of Luther and Montaigne Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483. He was a German monk, priest, professor, theologian and church reformer. His teaching helped to inspire the Reformation, and influenced the doctrines of the Lutheran and Protestant traditions, as well as the course of western civilization. Luther's works and writing helped bring the Middle Ages to a close, and brought about the Modern Era of western civilization. His translation of the Bible furthered the development of a standardized German language....   [tags: Comparative Literature]

Free Essays
1383 words (4 pages)