Grotesque: Frankenstein vs. Edward Scissorhands

Topics: Protagonist, Grotesque, Antagonist Pages: 5 (1740 words) Published: May 21, 2013
Grotesque Research Paper
In literature, the word “grotesque” is used to describe an individual that appears abnormal or bizarre to the other characters. A Grotesque character induces disgust, caused by his villainous outlooks, as well as empathy, as his personality contrast his outside, in other words is very likeable and nice. Despite trying to fit in and feel normal, the society will not accept Grotesque characters, for they miss the society´s idea of what is normal to look like and act like. Furthermore, it is often just the society´s judgemental reactions that make the Grotesque character act like a monster, being a part of a self-defense mechanism. Another characteristic typical for a Grotesque character is being a Christ figure. As a result of the mistakes and sins of others, a Grotesque character is the one who is blamed and sacrificed. For all these reasons, a viewer feels sympathy for the Grotesque character. In the films, Frankenstein and Edward Scissorhands, both main characters are considered Grotesque, having both a good nature and an uninviting visage, making a viewer feel compasion as well as repulsion. The term “grotesque” was first used to describe literary genre by Michel de Montaigne, a french writer of the French Rennaissance, for his Essays, published in the 16th century. The Grotesque is often related to satire and tragicomedy. A German writer, and 1929 Nobel Prize winner, Thomas Mann labeled it as a "genuine antibourgeois style" for it is an effective artistic way to convey grief and pain to the audience. However, grotesque happenings and monsters can be found even in some of the very first written texts. Myths offer a number of monstrous creations: one-eyed Cyclops in Hesiod's Theogony, Homer's Polyphemus in the Odyssey, or the hybrid creations in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Satirical writings of the eighteenth century can provide another major source of the grotesque; to name a few, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, or the works of Alexander Pope provide many examples of the grotesque. Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of the most famous grotesques in literature. The Phantom of the Opera and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast can be also considered grotesque. Other examples of the grotesque in Romanticism can be found in Sturm und Drang literature and in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, or Laurence Sterne. Romantic grotesque is different from medieval grotesque, which celebrated laughter and fertility, by being more horrific and sombre. Grotesque figures in a fantasy world of Alice in the Wonderland by Lewis Carroll gave the grotesque a new shape. In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the character of Gollum may be considered to fit into the grotesque template. Southern Gothic is a genre frequently identified with grotesques, from which authors such as William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, or Raymond Kennedy are often associated with the grotesque. In the 1931 film, Frankenstein, the creature, being the main character, was created by Dr. Frankenstein, who was boosted by his vanity and desire to give life to a set of dead body parts to break the natural cycle of life and death and to become equal to God. The creature´s repulsive looks made the superficial citizens treat him as if he was a criminal without giving him a chance to express himself and show he actually wants to be a good person. The townspeople automatically assumed the monster was evil, judged him, and treated him accordingly. The moster responded by using violence, the only way he knew to defend himself as his brain was undeveloped, which only confirmed others´ judgment on him and led to even more violence. The only exception in mostly deprecatory reactions of the citizens was a little girl who did not feel any barriers to play with the monster and to be nice to him. In this case, the monster was surprised, as no one had acted like that to him before, but tried to be nice because of his yearning to have a...

Citations: Burton, T. (Director) (1990). Edward scissorhands [DVD].
Whale, J. (Director) (1931). Frankenstein [DVD].
Eavan, Malone. "Grotesque Lecture." Escambia High School. Florida, Pensacola. 2012. Lecture.
Author unknown. "Grotesque in Literature." Wikipedia. N.p., 10 2012. Web. 10 Dec 2012. <>
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