The Secret Of Roan Inish Essay

1899 words - 8 pages

Selkies are Celtic fairy-tale creatures that are half-seal and half human. Stories about these mythical creatures originate from the Orkney Islands of Scotland. A selkie becomes human once it takes off seal skin. Most stories that revolve around selkies are usually about a selkie falling in love with a human man who takes away their seal skin in which the selkie ends up marrying. Even though there are male selkies, most selkies in stories portray a woman. The film The secret of Roan Inish is a good example of displaying socio-cultural and political anxiety or conflict portraying a human hybrid. The film was directed by John Sayles starring Jeni Courtney as Fiona Coneelly and Susan Lynch as Nula the selkie wife. The film reveals the treatment of seals as if they close like if they are a part of the family and it represents an absent of a mother maternal figure. In this essay, the film The Secret of Roan Inish will be used in reference to the socio-cultural and political anxiety. The essay will look at the gender relationships, including the human-animal companionship.

The seal humans or selkies as they are known are creatures which are mentioned a lot about in Gaelic speaking countries as well as in the Faroes Island and Iceland. It is according to Orcadian belief the selkies were the fallen angels who had been exiled from heaven to earth for an offence that was unknown (Aaltonen 156). The punishment was not as harsh as being exiled to hell, but their punishment was to live in the in the flesh of a seal. The belief people had about turning into a seal was said to be a form of suicide (Aaltonen 156). A selkie can take off its seal skin embracing a human form depending on the time of the tide. Selkies are known to be really attractive and so it was common for a young man to steal the selkie’s skin, resulting in a marriage between him and the selkie woman (Aaltonen 156). Tales of selkies are said to have originated from the Sea-Sami people who travelled far from the coast of Norway paddling in their canoes wearing seal skin, where the theme metamorphosis in selkie stories was likely to have originated from (Aaltonen 156).

The film The secret of Roan Inish is about an island called Roan Inish meaning Seal Island. Liam Coneelly the ancestor who married Nula the selkie is described to Fiona Coneelly by her father’s cousin Tadhg, that Liam was a lonely young man who participated in family gatherings but who always isolated himself from others (The secret of Roan Inish). Liam sounds like an introverted character from that type of description. Tadhg mentioned further that Liam never liked participating in any harm of seals in which he had witnessed others on the island do as he felt it was too common practice that was cruel (The secret of Roan Inish). Liam does not hold any of the anthropocentric, like how Fudge describes anthropocentrism as “the belief that the human is the centre for all things…” (14). A lot of the inhabitants of Roan Inish are...

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