Comparison between Selected Ecocritical Texts: Analysis of Consider the Lobster and Other Essays

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Firstly, let us look into a brief background of the two texts. South Korea is chiefly a non-vegetarian country except in Seoul, one may find few vegan restaurants. There is no particular word to describe vegetarian in the Korean language and is often misunderstood to serve 'sea foods'. In spite of being a South Korean, Han Kang had incredibly described in her book 'The Vegetarian' how veganism had a strong impact in her life that she voices out her most intricate thoughts through the protagonist 'Yeong Hye. According to the British Council Literature, “Han Kang combines human violence and the possibility of innocence. [A] Frightening beauty of a novel.” The book had bagged the Man Booker Prize International in 2016. ‘The Vegetarianism in America' study published by Vegetarian Times states that around 7.3 million people in America follow a vegetarian diet. The various reasons cited were to improve their overall health, to protect the environment and to look after the welfare of the animals. Out of which 54% of the vegetarians claimed that they wanted to protect the rights of the animals and to save them from the mass slaughterhouses. According to Foer, about 99% of animal meat come from farmhouses mainly for human consumption. There is an increase in the concept of veganism among Americans in recent decades. J.M Coetzee says, “Those of us who eat factory-raised meat have in a way, closed our hearts.” The book had received the EMA (Environmental Media Association) Award for its contribution in increasing public awareness in environmental issues.

Undoubtedly these two texts are extremely controversial both in South Korea and America, but the authors never try to force the readers to practice vegetarianism while their main focus lies on to stop the mass slaughtering of innocent creatures. The theme of environmental concern is moreover the same in both the texts.

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‘Ecocriticism is conducted in a spirit of commitment to environmentalist praxis'. Ecocriticism broadly classifies the text into many sub-categories each dealing with various ecological perspectives. ‘The Vegetarian' is pinned with more psychological elements. The protagonist wrapped with her guilt of consuming animals in the past is haunted by nightmares of bloodshed and animal slaughters. The ecocritical aspect of the text revolves on the how to stop this inhumane practice of killing animals, how to follow the mental and ecological progress of the protagonist, what are the ways in which the protagonist and the supporting characters find it difficult to cope with the new vegetarian ‘change', In what perspective does the male character exhibit traces of patriarchy and how does it affect a female from choosing her own diet and what are the psychological changes that happen in the mind of the characters.

By analysing the text in terms of ecocriticism enables us to keep the ecological principles as a model for thinking about how literature functions. When we look deeper into the text, the extreme levels of becoming a ‘vegan' from boycotting any product made out of animals to that of going naked and imagining herself to be a tree, the text is extremely ecocentric.

Whereas in Foer’s 'Eating animals' it throws a light on the reality on how cruelty is performed against the animals and talks about the proliferation of factory farms. This research paper evokes the primary question on how to relate the text an ecological perspective, and what are the ways in which the author gets influenced by the environment. If so, you visit a farmhouse as narrated in the text, would you become a vegan? What are the main ecological principles that the text stress upon? This question will make you get confused and make you unstable.

The research throws a light on the literary texts that try to influence people on environmental grounds. It also focuses on to bring an eco-conscious comparison between the texts Hang Kang’s ' The Vegetarian' and Foer’s 'Eating Animals' in elucidating the relationship between human and non-human entities. Tracing back to the essay on 'Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism (1978), the research tries to investigate and also help in make possible connections among self, society, nature and text. It also analyses nature writing which is commonly associated with environmental criticism.

The two most important works of ecocriticism in the 1990’s were studies of Wordsworth and Shelley. Some of the famous ecocritical texts are Rachel Carson’s 1962 environmental expose 'Silent Spring', Raymond William's 'The Country and the City', Ursula Heise’s ‘Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global', Paul Outka's 'Race and Nature from Transcendentalism to the Harlem Renaissance Ecology without nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics, Timothy Morton(2009), Back to Nature; The green and the real in the late Renaissance, Robert Watson(2009), Peter Singer's 'Animal Liberation', Mark Braunstein's Radical Vegetarianism and J.M Costello’s 'Elizabeth Costello', David Foster Wallace's 'Consider the Lobster', Michael Pollan's 'The Omnivore Dilemma'.

Rach Crason's Silent Spring is an environmental science book that documents the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides. This book kindered environmental concerns among American readers. She focused her attentions on environmental conservation, protection and preservation.

The Country and the City is a book of Cultural analysis by Raymond Williams. In this he analyses images of the country and the City in English literature since the olden days, and how these images become the central symbols for conceptualizing the social and economic changes associated with capitalist development in England.

In Sens e of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global written by Ursula K Heise, the writer examines the connections between ecocriticism and theories of globalisation and cosmopolitanism versus Ulrich Beck's theory of the 'risk society'. It also critiques the localist emphasis if North American ecocriticism and focuses on texts from both US and Germany. There is also an interesting epilogue on climate change and its artistic representations to date. The relationship between the imagination of the global and the ethical commitment to the local in environmentalist thought and writing is discussed. It also proposes the concept if 'eco-cosmopolitanism' as a shorthand for envisioning these connections and the cultural and aesthetic forms into which they translate. It offers a wealth of theoretical insight and an intriguing number of exemplary, innovative readings of texts in which the environmental imagination of the global becomes manifest.

In Paul Outka's Race and Nature from transcendentalism to the Harlem Renaissance, the author's draws upon the theories of sublimity, trauma, and ecocriticism.

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays is writer by novelist David Foster Wallace in 2004. Consider the Lobster talks about the Maine Lobster Festival that generated some controversy among the readers of the culinary magazine. This particular essay is concerned with the ethics of boiling a creature alive in order to enhance the consumer's pleasure. It also discusses about the lobster sensory neurons.

Wallace emphasizes that no amount of lobster paraphernalia and clever marketing strategies can divert him from the serious question, ' Is it right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure? Wallace not only talks about lobsters but every carnivorous creatures that suffer under the hands of the human. He wants the readers to draw their own conclusions and to focus on the fact that every living organism has the sense of pain.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals is written by Michael Pollan in 2006. In this book, he discusses about what we should have for dinner because of the enormous choices of food habits we fail to eat that is healthy. We became a slave for our desires and tastes. With the help of cultural influences this particular dilemma was resolved primarily. The development of the technology has made even seasonal foods available throughout the year and when we rely on them, we would be forced to get on to unhealthy means of food habits.

Pollan also discusses about the large-scale farms and food processing outfits that largely satisfy surging demand for organic food., using Whole Foods as a proxy. The author says that even though they claim it to be organic and healthy, we still can't blindly trust them because the 'free-range' chicken on offer, it turns out, hails from a confinement operation with a tiny yard, largely unused by the short-lived birds. The main thing that he focuses is the unrealistic pastoral narrative where people get the false idea that, by definition, organic products come from picturesque open pastures. Pollan gives a concluding remark that if we were once again aware of the source of our food- what is was, where it came from, how it traveled to reach us, and it's true cost- we would see that we ' eat by the grace of nature, not industry'.

In Elizabeth Costello, the Australian writer Laureate J.M. Coetzee travels around the world and gives lectures on various topics regarding the protection of animals. All the above mentioned texts try to combine literature and environment. With literature as a tool, various ecocritics with less or more writing skill come up with exciting pieces of literary texts to create awareness among people to love nature and the duty to protect the fauna of Earth.

Its not just the animals those are killed brutally, the flora is also destroyed due to various factors like globalisation, industrialisation, deforestation and also due to natural disasters. It is the need of the hour to protect the wildlife of our country and to help them live in a sustainable environment. The extreme effects of global warming cause the release of toxic gases to the atmosphere thereby reducing the quality of the air. This in turn would cause various effects health issues. Texts like these are an eye opener to the society. In each and every page of theses text one can find the cries of millions of animals.

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Comparison between Selected Ecocritical Texts: Analysis of Consider the Lobster and Other Essays. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
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