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 “...
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...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.
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