Sunday, February 14, 2010

In the reading about William Hogarth, it expressed that may of his works dealt with issues in society and used satire to comment on certain public figures and stereotypes. For instance one of his series of engravings titled, ‘A Harlot’s Progress’, remarks on the public opinion and stereotype of prostitutes, clergy, and public officials in the 1700s. Hogarth’s series depicts the deterioration of Moll Hackabout, a fictitious stereotypical prostitute, who starts out as young and desirable, then slowly with every customer, grows old and ragged, cast out by the very men who made her popular and the prostitute she used to be, until eventually she dies of their diseases. Hogarth using satire and irony created a grotesque series that criticized society in its corruption and sins, and not only chastised but evoked pity for Moll in that society adores the fall of a popular public figure.

Although this series was created in the 1700s, the motifs that encircle the very series- over-sexuality, morality, publicity of public figures and their downfall - still plague today, perhaps even more so. A modern example of the Molly Hackabout story would be that of Anna Nicole Smith. Though Anna Nicole Smith wasn’t a fictitious character, her story does resemble that of the fictitious character.

Anna Nicole’s career started out like that of Molly Hackabout, she was pulled into the modeling world and soon began posing for ‘Playboy’ magazine. Although she didn’t physically sell herself, she sold the image of herself in an over-sexualized way that made her popular and into a symbol of sex and beauty. Then soon after the very public and industry that built her up with attention and adoration turned on Anna as she started to lose her image and appeal as well as having questionable morality. Like the public punished Moll, Anna was scrutinized and punished by the paparazzi and the rest of the media. Then later she became addicted to pain pills which were probably influenced by her constant scrutiny from the media, which she later died from. With death came pity, yet still there was controversy, like Moll, in that her ‘bastard’ child was now in the middle over a huge paternity battle between three men.

Both women met their demise in the environment that created them and shared the same misfortunes of using sexuality to make a living, then being punished by hypocritical society, and eventually pitied in death.


  1. Nice connections, I forgot this and it is interesting how these two characters could be connected even with such a separation of time between them. It is kind of like saying that society dictates who you are and how you are perceived and how it can be the reason for your downfall or rise. This is interesting in the comic Anna Nicole is also hidden from the viewer just as Hogarth's character. With Hogarth the figure was hidden because of rotting flesh and disease. Why was Anna Nicole hidden?

  2. Thank you, this connection intrigued me and got me thinking about how the media back then still influenced society like it does today; an engraver had just as much power then as a tabloid does now.

    As far as Anna being hidden, she actually isn't. In Hogarth's last plate, not one hair of Moll's is shown. In the cartoon of Anna Nicole, she isn't hidden, but rather cropped out. If one looks close, you can see that the top half of the casket is wide open, revealing perhaps her most recognizable features, her breasts. In my opinion, the artist chose to crop her our because the cartoon isn't really focused on her specifically, but that of her daughter and the possible fathers, thus making it less distracting.

    Also just because it's funny, if you look really hard in the "Paternity Line", 4th from the right is Bill Clinton.