Term Freak Analysis

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A Cultural and Historical Exploration of the Term “Freak” The definition of freak has changed to comprehend ideologies and class structures at a particular time context. In the middle ages, by possessing medical knowledge and practices, women were denounced as witches, also known as a form of freaks, and considered as a cause of hysteria. Forwarding to the Victorian era, people who had anatomically unusual bodies were named freaks, and displayed their abnormalities as a source of amusement for the public. Despite the classification of freaks has transformed over time, there is one commonality between all these freaks: they continue to live as the marginal population of the community they did not belong. To investigate the role of time in…show more content…
The difference between a freak and a normal human being was not based on their difference in knowledge, but their physical differences. Presenting human oddities for entertainment was an unsettling cultural phenomenon that seems to be naturalized in the 19th century. Joseph Merrick, the elephant man, was one of the many victims suffering under the presence of preexisting social stigma. Despite his physical deformities, Merrick was superior in intelligence. Contradictory, Treves, even though recognized Merrick’s intelligence, wrote, “Merrick was an imbecile from birth. The fact that his face was incapable of expression, that his speech was a mere spluttering” (Ferguson, pg. 117). In his narration, Treves tried to display his dominance over Merrick through humanizing and equipping Merrick with language skills that Merrick already possessed. The example of Merrick exemplifies the idea that freaks, specifically in the Victorian era, were isolated due to their physical difference, but moreover people who decide the narratives sabotaged the rights of the freaks to voice their opinions, which further pushed them in becoming more marginalized than they already…show more content…
In Geek Love (2002), the Binewski family creates self-made freaks through poisons and medications. Children who failed to survive the traumatic pregnancies are preserved in jars for public display, and those who survived have to perform in the circus. In either way, these children have to be accepted by the public in order to find their path to the normal society. However, instead of trying to fit in, the Binewskis relish their freak status and show disgust and superiority over the normal people, as they could only have boring lives with their boring limbs. Furthermore, Arty, a Binewski boy who has flippers for hands and feet, gains power in the society by forming his own form of what a “normal” society should be, or his cult, Arturism, whereby people have to amputate their limbs to search for Peace, Isolation, and Purity. “I have to admit she was just saying what all the rest of the damp, wheezing crowd was thinking. She screamed, ‘I want to be like you are” (Dunn, pg. 178). From here on, becoming a freak has become something people yearned for even if it meant to amputate themselves. Additionally, the term “freaks” is adopted as a sense of collective and positive identity, and represents a sense of union among those who do identify themselves as freaks, which is not emphasized in the definition of freaks in the middle ages and the Victorian

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