How Characteristics of Hybridation Shows Up in "The Thing in the Forest" by A.S. Byatt

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Jean L. Michael

English 1302 Renee Stubbs 3 March 2013

How Characteristics of Hybridization show up in A.S. Byatt’s “The Thing in the Forrest”

In a clever way the author has taken the odd yet critical monster trait of hybrid, and created an unnerving tale of an encounter with a gruesome being in the forrest. Used in this sense, hybrid is the offspring of different species; one being human and the other, an amalgam of earth and water creatures. The literary result is a genre known as monster literature. According to David D. Gilmore’s research in “Monsters: Evil Beings, Mythical Beasts, and All Manner of Imaginary Terrors”, the character blueprint for a hybrid monster usually has in it “ . . . recombinations uniting animal and human features or mixing animal species in lurid ways (Harpham 1982; Andriano 1999)”(6). A.S. Byatt creates the ideal creature in a real world setting we all recognize. The isle of England, World War II, and fresh words from Sir Winston Churchill, “But if we fail, then the whole world, . . . will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, . . . by the lights of perverted science.” This wave of frightening peril moved across the entire world of 1940 as well, with the discovery of Nazi eugenic institutions. Now the stage is set for “The Thing in The Forrest” to be later written in England. The most obvious way hybridization semantically rears its ugly head, is in the description of The Thing, whereby homo sapient emotion and reptilian features inte-

Michael 2 grate. Mismatched traits catch hold as Byatt elaborates on the facial details by her alternating descriptions such as, human to turnip, back to human with sea anemone. There is a prominent mouth with lips, puckered with pain, and eyes with ocean-deep blindness, combining with a tubular patchwork body. Quasi-‘washer woman’ muscles connect ‘dragon forearms’ to control ‘suckered centipede feet’. The...
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