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Queer Space in Herman Melville’s Typee

DOI: 10.4236/als.2017.51003, PP. 22-28

Keywords: Herman Melville, Typee, Queer Space, Queer Discourse

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Abstract:

The queer space in Herman Melville’s first book Typee is primarily constructed around two recurring queer motifs: the erotic male body and the all-male loving couple. The sexual panic of the protagonist Tommo is manifested in his interactions with Typee males. His final escape from Typee island signals a surrender of his queer nature to his Christian spirit. The wretched end of Typee reveals Melville’s pessimistic view on being a queer—there is no possibility for queer relationships to sustain. By utilizing a queer discourse, Melville attacks the sexually repressive Western culture and expresses his concern about the destiny of the marginalized queers in his time. As a queer writer living in the 19th century America, Melville calls for a tolerant and humane society in which queer love can be valued and respected.

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