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Phallocracy in Alan Moore’s “From Hell”

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  1. Introduction
  2. Douglas Wolk's description
  3. Performance of the narrative
  4. Strengthening the phallocracy
  5. Apotheosis of man
  6. Conclusion
  7. Bibliography

Alan Moore offers a diagnosis of reality that portrays misogyny, homophobia, racism, classism, and governmental tyranny as demonic forces. Moore uses the graphic narrative medium as a means to communicate the demonic nature of these systems of power. In Moore's work on Swamp Thing, he created monstrous personifications of the ills of America, with werewolves expressing repressed feminism and zombies rising from America's fetish for guns. Alan Moore shows the ritual engagement of the phallocracy and its religious fervor for power over women in From Hell. The narrative is set in Victorian England, and the character, Dr. Gull, is portrayed as Jack the Ripper. Gull desecrates female bodies at specific phallocentric sites in London to bring about a twentieth century centered on reason, order, control, all under male rule. From Hell shows the power and demonic nature of the phallocracy, as well as the constructed genealogy of power and order. The work of Irigaray and Foucault interpret the textual meaning of From Hell, and help expose the nature and means that power and control use to objectify women in the modern age. Cultural critics speak of the evils of hierarchy, and the shadow side of ontologies of violence, but From Hell offers a chance for the reader to experience the brutal nature of the Western metaphysical tradition.

[...] The best of rhetoric will not move the reader to feel the power of phallocracy the way Alan Moore's From Hell allows the reader to experience phallocratic violence. What rises from the images in the narrative and the discourse between Gull and his audience is a mirror of the twentieth century, holistically diagnosing power dynamics across the gender divide. Jack the Ripper lingers in cultural memory, a trace of a time where women were used regularly for sexual pleasure but who also had some level of autonomy. [...]


[...] Gull takes pride in this observation, noting that civilizations erected obelisks, phallic symbols denoting the sun, both symbol of the male principle; of man's ascendancy. It also symbolizes man's left brain, our rational, apollonian side.?[14] Gull points out that the architecture of London contains many such obelisks, claiming the architect Hawksmoor built them as ?another altar to the sun, and masculinity, and reason, with its cold erection stabbing at the sky.?[15] As Gull and Netley continue their journey, Gull explains that obelisks marked points in London where references to ancient sun gods such as Bel and Baal, Belinos and Atum, Helios and Apollo. [...]


[...] Gull describes primordial divinity as feminine, ?Back in the caves, life hinged on childbirth's mystery and we served mother goddesses, not Father Gods.?[29] Those touched by the moon, lunatics, prophets, and hysterical women once held sway before the phallocracy labeled them insane.[30] It was not enough to consider obelisk erections to the sun a symbol of divinity, the power of feminine mystique had to be destroyed. Powers of artistry and creativity must likewise be destroyed. The label of madness is offered to the other, the not self which must be destroyed if it cannot be made into the self.[31] The magic of reason constrains the mad, constraining the population, dictating what is known is false and what power designates is true even when empiric observation contradicts power. [...]

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