Thursday, April 24, 2008
The relationship between Catholicism and the Centaurs
When reading the book “The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman” by Angela Carter, I found myself trying to figure and analyze the books meaning. The passage and chapter that I really experienced this thought process was the chapter about the centaur people and their religious beliefs. During our previous class we discussed the link between the centaur’s and the Houyhnhms. By looking further into the chapter I discovered that Carter also intertwined a religious connection to the centaurs. The centaurs were extremely religious creatures, which resembled the Catholic religion almost exactly. Both of the religions are monotheist, they both revolve around the written word, they both are built upon the hierarchy of individual males, and they both are very heavily influenced by nature and the world around them. In the book, the centaurs worship the Sacred Stallion, very similar to the way the Catholics worship the one single God figure. In Catholicism, everything that is presented for the religion is written within one sacred text, which is the bible. The centaur’s have many sacred texts that they follow and add to, much like the bible. In the centaurs religion we are shown, the male hierarchy within the church. The centaurs have the Scrivener, the Smith, the Cantor, and the Tattoo master. Carter even goes as far as describing them as cardinals, exactly like the Catholic Church. Throughout my reading of this section, I kept on finding myself trying to determine why she would include such a vivid allusion to the Catholic Church. Through my interpretation, Carter isn’t trying to make a statement about the Catholic Church. I felt that Carter was trying to show how a religion can over take a human being or a civilization. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is not always good either. By connecting the centaur people with a religion very similar to Catholicism, she created a connection between the reader and the centaur characters in the book, because almost everyone has heard about and experienced some interaction with the Catholic Church. Her focus on religion in a way humanized the god like centaurs. It made them real and more believable to the average reader.