Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The King and His Loyal Beast

This is a short clip that highlights and explains the Oxytocin hormonal link between the ever growing pet-owner relationship, especially involving dogs.  After finding and listening to this clip, I thought of a confounding question in connection with the short story "Bisclavret".
As we know, in the story "Bisclavret" the main protagonist reveals to his lover that he transforms into a werewolf.  Rather unexpectedly, she turns against Bisclavret and forces him to retreat into the forest as a wild beast. One day the King and his hunting party came across Bisclavret in his beastly form.

"He took hold of his stirrup and kissed his foot and his leg. The king saw him and was filled with dread. He summoned all his companions. 'Lords,' he said, 'come forward! See the marvelous way this beast humbles itself before me! It has the intelligence of a human and is pleading for mercy."( pg. 70)

I want to explore how this new research complicates the intricate meaning between sovereign owner and loyal pet? Has these findings changed or challenged the true fidelity of the parallel relationship between the King and Bisclavret? The clip explores how the increase in Oxytocin hormone levels correlates to bonding between Dog and owner. The research specifically highlights how these findings do not apply to wolves.  In the context of the story, partnered with the NPR clip, what do you think this implies about domestication? Was Bisclavret a true domesticated pet in the sense of how we define domestic today? If so, was he transformed through necessity of safety? What do you think the King`s statement about Bisclavret and his show of loyalty, reveal about the relationship between loyalty and intelligence?



  1. The article makes little mention of the behavior of wolves under the influence of oxytocin. It simply slips in two brief claims, not evidenced by study, that wolves do not share the dogs' oxytocin drugged love. If those claims are to be taken at face value, then it is necessary for the interpreter to come to the conclusion that Bisclavret's companion-like behavior is the result of his human experience.

  2. In terms of the Bisclavret, he is half man half wolf and that makes things more complicated. I would argue that he would be able to be considered domesticated but not because of his loyalty or intelligence from the wolf part of his being, but from his human side. Human is an evolved and "domesticated" form of previous creatures we would consider non human animals if you look at it from evolutionary standpoint.