Corrupted Bodies: The Relationship between Power, Corruption, and Illness in Irvine Welsh’s Filth

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Abstract

Irvine Welsh’s (1998) novel Filth is an exploration of the nature of corruption. The novel examines physical corruption, and discusses mental illness as a factor that affects the decline of the physical body. Welsh also discusses institutional corruption and depicts racism, homophobia, sexism, and sectarianism as prevalent within Scottish state institutions. The novel presents the pursuit of power as the root cause of corruption in the individual, and in the society which they live in. In Filth , the main protagonist, Bruce Robertson, is symbolic of the link between personal, institutional, and societal corruption. His pursuit of power over other people leads him to behave in ways that are destructive to himself and to others. His idolisation of Margaret Thatcher is a key factor within this; he perceives Thatcher to have pursued absolute power, and he follows her example. In common with much of Welsh’s other work, Filth is critical of neo-liberalism, and portrays British government policy in the contemporary era as defined by corrupt ideals and methods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalDandelion Postgraduate Arts Journal
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013

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Illness
Corruption
Pursuit
British Government
Sectarianism
Racism
Government Policy
Sexism
Neoliberalism
Causes
Physical
Physical Body
Margaret Thatcher
Homophobia
Protagonist
Mental Illness
Ideal

Cite this

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abstract = "Irvine Welsh’s (1998) novel Filth is an exploration of the nature of corruption. The novel examines physical corruption, and discusses mental illness as a factor that affects the decline of the physical body. Welsh also discusses institutional corruption and depicts racism, homophobia, sexism, and sectarianism as prevalent within Scottish state institutions. The novel presents the pursuit of power as the root cause of corruption in the individual, and in the society which they live in. In Filth , the main protagonist, Bruce Robertson, is symbolic of the link between personal, institutional, and societal corruption. His pursuit of power over other people leads him to behave in ways that are destructive to himself and to others. His idolisation of Margaret Thatcher is a key factor within this; he perceives Thatcher to have pursued absolute power, and he follows her example. In common with much of Welsh’s other work, Filth is critical of neo-liberalism, and portrays British government policy in the contemporary era as defined by corrupt ideals and methods.",
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