Monsters: More Than Appearance, Personality Counts

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My first thought when I heard the term monster prior to taking “Exploration of the Humanities” was simply a scary, frightening, deformed creature.  I had read books with monsters ranging from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.  I had never thought about a monster in the context of its community, as an “other.”  I had only thought of a monster in the context of its capability to instill fear.  This semester my understanding of monsters has been challenged and has expanded significantly.   Monsters are much more than terrifying.  Oftentimes, the significance of monsters is what they teach us about our community.             My understanding of monsters first began to grow as I read about the monsters in Beowulf such as Grendel.  Grendel is a physical personification of evil in his deformity and grotesqueness which is in line with my original definition.  But Grendel was not just a physical threat to the community, he was a psychological threat.  By destroying the dining hall, Heorot, Grendel threatens a sense of home and makes the familiar unfamiliar.  My definition of monsters expanded to include a sense of psychological horror they are capable of instilling.  This psychological horror undermines the people and threatens their security and sense of home.  This is worse than the external terror I had originally thought monsters were only capable of creating.             My conceptualization of monsters continued to expand as I began reading Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.  Compared to Grendel in Beowulf, Victor Frankenstein’s creature is still a deformed monster, but he is not inherently evil.  Frankenstein’s creature becomes evil because of rejection by community and because of the isolation Victor and community surround him with. At one point the creature almost finds a friend in the elder DeLacey who is blind, but the other DeLaceys ruin this for him because they become frightened by the creature’s physical appearance.  I had never thought...
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