Several fairy tales have used the theme of hiding in another creature’s skin—usually a donkey’s or cat’s—in order to escape a dysfunctional home, the dysfunction often incest-related. T.S. Eliot reimagines the animal skin disguise in this excerpt from his 1925 poem “The Hollow Men”:
“Let me also wear/ Such deliberate disguises/ Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves.”
Read as an allegory to World War I, this could be interpreted as soldiers hiding in the trenches. Eliot’s choice of rat skin seems to be a direct connection to war eating away their lives.
One of fiction’s most notorious characters is the serial killer Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs. In the novel by Thomas Harris, Bill exhibits a predilection for kidnapping plus-sized women, starving and skinning them to make a female body suit. This character is based on the real-life serial killer Ed Gein, who used parts of women in clothing, furniture and experiments. Onscreen, Buffalo Bill is portrayed by actor Ted Levine, no stranger to creepy roles (Joy Ride, Shutter Island, The Hills Have Eyes).
Wearing fur has been a controversial issue for some time. Many celebrities have been criticized for their elaborate, once-living coats. PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals, is the world’s largest organization against fur. Celebrities fond of fur tend to say whatever they buy, they should have the freedom to wear. In other words, appearing soon on a Kardashian near you…
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by Fairy Tale Review intern Kelsey Blackman and poetry editor Jon Riccio.