Dr. Judith Nysenholc
October 16, 2012
Stories about Monsters
If we think about the storyline in Beowulf and The Tempest, we can recall how the story was initiated and how the story unfolded as we turned the pages of the book. One thing that readers tend to overlook is the fact that even though the heroes of the story may be important and they do play the main role, the monsters make them as great as they are. In Beowulf, if Grendel didn’t exist then Beowulf would have never been able to demonstrate his awesome power by tearing his arm off, slaying Grendel’s mother, and later decapitating Grendel’s corpse. Alternatively, in The Tempest, I feel that Caliban added more of an element of anxiety for the reader as well. Caliban convinced Trinculo and Stephano to murder Prospero during the middle of the book and sparked in us a curiosity to seek the outcome of this venture. These stories are nothing without the monsters and are about the monsters that the civilized people slay in one way or another to obtain a name for themselves. There are several attributes that make a monster what they are. You can tell they are monsters from their origins. For example, Grendel’s mother was some kind of demon-witch who slept with Cain and gave birth to a “demon opponent” (Beowulf 53). And Caliban who was “got by the devil himself” (The Tempest 119), Prospero claims that he is the son of the devil. We don’t know how accurate this is, but it says a lot about his appearance and appearance is another attribute we can analyze to determine whether they are monsters or civilized individuals in the story. Grendel was even described to have talons, while Caliban was described as a giant fish with the aroma to match. So far we have looked at physical attributes, but most importantly there are attributes of character we must examine as well. Looking like a monster and having monstrous origins give strong evidence that you are a monster, but the most important...
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