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Political and Cultural Significance of Hunting Animals in 19th Century in Britain - Essay Example

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In the UK, hunting specifically denotes ‘foxhunting’ by hunters on horsebacks along with beaters and trained hounds, especially in the context of 19th century Britain…
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Political and Cultural Significance of Hunting Animals in 19th Century in Britain
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Download file to see previous pages While stag (deer) and hare hunting were considered a popular sport in 17th and 18th century Britain, foxhunting was at the core of all cultural and political debates, with maximum number of followers during the 19th century. Foxhunting as a popular sport of the British elite is a relatively new phenomenon, starting around early 18th century. Initially, other animals like the deer (stag) or hare were held at a greater esteem than the fox, while the latter was viewed as a lowly creature (Ridley, 1990). The deer was considered as the noblest game, holding rank of the highest hunting trophy until 16th century; while hare- hunting during 17th century became the ultimate symbol of hunting skills of a British aristocrat (Carr, 1976). Foxhunting became popular during late 1600, only when there were widespread destruction of forests (to be used as arable lands or for industrial purposes), use of firearms, and formation of deer parks, which led to a sharp decline in deer (stag) hunting as a sport, and a simultaneous rise in the popularity of fox-hunting (Oldfield, Smith, Harrop, and Leader-Williams, 2003). Soon it became the most popular sport, and by the start of 19th century, foxhunting was regarded as a universal ‘public’ sport activity, which brought about large-scale changes within the arena of animal hunting (Itzkowitz, 1977). In Britain, hunting and royalty has a long-standing relationship, where observations reveal that historically hierarchy, display, and various rituals of animal hunting framed the basic constitution of British landownership (Bell, 1994). For the elites or the landowners, it symbolised the regulating ties that lay between aristocracy and British royalty, embodying the presumptions of the traditional high-society values of the court and sovereignty (Massingham, 1942). Hunting also represented a traditional and stately Britain, and stood as a symbol for what was viewed as an impervious and deep ‘British-ness’ (Howe, 1981). Even with political and religious views that questioned ethical and moral values of hunting, the picture of a hunter along with beaters and hounds trying to bring out animals from the forest depths are widely regarded as a symbol of 19th century ‘Britishness,’ which is based on age-old ties to the land and past cultural values (Marvin, 2003; Donald, 1991). In this context, keeping in view the deep connection that exists between hunting and the so-called ‘British-ness,’ the paper will review various articles to study the social, political and cultural significance of hunting animals (foxhunting) in nineteenth century Britain. Discussion Emergence of foxhunting as a favourite sport of the British people and its social and cultural significance In his article Carr noted, “The social roots of English fox hunting have always been deeper and broader than the aristocratic hunting of the Continent” (1976, 241- 42). Foxhunting is said to have originated in the UK during 15th century, but could have been in existence even before that (Griffin, 2007). A review of various articles reveals that initially foxhunting in Britain involved people from various segments of the society. During 17th century, peasants and landed gentry from Scotland along with miners from England and South Wales, all took part in foxhunting, which was viewed as an ignoble sport of low values (Landry, 2001). In contrast to bird shooting (grouse or partridge), which was reserved for the elite classes, foxhunting had a poor social status. During eighteenth century, foxhunting in the UK acquired an even lower social status, where farm labourers and servants used nets to catch ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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