Piolence and Punishment in Pulp Fiction

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB, April 1996

download word file, 4 pages 4.1


Pulp Fiction, one of the most highly acclaimed films of 1995, was

without a doubt a shocking and controversial movie. Drugs, sex, and

especially violence filled our eyes and our ears. Director Quentin

Tarantino brought into the mainstream a genre that had never had such

mass appeal, and he did it very successfully. After viewing Pulp Fiction,


the issues of violence and punishment arise, and we have to question what

role they play in the film.

The first work that we read for this class, "The Body of the

Condemned," by Michael Foucault, had some extremely graphic stories in

it. The one that stands out most clearly is the scene of the spectacle of

eighteenth century punishment. In writing about how Damiens the regicide

was brutally tortured, Foucault says, "The flesh will be torn from his breast,

arms, thighs, and calves with red-hot pincers, his right hand, holding the

knife with which he committed the said parricide, burnt with sulfur."

Relating this example to Pulp Fiction, we see there is a definite connection.

Being quite a movie buff, I have to say that violence and punishment

can be traced to Quentin Tarantino's earlier films, most noticeably True

Romance and Reservoir Dogs. A brutal torture scene, sort of like the

Damiens the regicide of the 90's, took place in Reservoir Dogs. A gangster

cut the ear of a police officer off, sliced his face up with a razor, then

poured gasoline all over him. Definitely not as bad as Foucault's example,

but to actually watch it in a film made many cringe and walk out of the

theater. This scene caused great controversy and turmoil, which Tarantino

ported over to Pulp Fiction.

Since I had seen other Tarantino works, I wasn't as shocked at...