2.2 The Gothic Monster As my main focus of this paper is the motif of the double and transformation in the film Black Swan, Fin de Siècle Gothic is of most interest here. In these turn of the century Gothic works, the monster is a recurring and very integral theme. Gothic monster as such are Doubles, Vampires, and Shape Shifters or other forms of transformed part humans. These creatures can have their origin in the supernatural realm or come about through ominous scientific experiments, often times the two are very hard to differentiate(cf. Hurley 192). A popular reading of this trope is the notion of repressed anxieties and desires manifesting themselves in the form of monsters (cf. Dryden 20, cf. Halberstam 9). Consequently, monsters are …show more content…
On the one hand, his theories created a link between human and animal, a fact that is reflected in some varieties of Gothic monsters (cf. Hurley 195f). Doctor Moreau's gruesomely pieced together half human beasts or shape shifters that turn from human to animal the likes of Richard Marsh's 'The Beetle'(1897) come to mind. On the other hand Darwin's theory of evolution brings with it the idea that if creatures could evolve into humans then it should also be possible for humans to devolve as well. This lay the seed for degeneration theory (cf. Byron 134f). In this context, one has to mention criminal anthropology and sexology as two pseudo scientific fields that worked to understand human behaviours that were considered abnormal.(cf. Hurley 196f) Criminal anthology used scientific ideas to explain how criminals are a lower form of evolution or more precisely some form of subhuman that can be recognized by certain physical attributes. Sexology used similar ideas to explain why homosexuals and so called inverts and New Woman were also subhuman. This fear of degeneration of the self and society was omnipresent and the notion that not only could degeneration be passed down to your children but also could be caught through social …show more content…
The previously mentioned transformed part humans called abhumans by Hurley (cf. 190), and the Double can also fall into this category. The Double holds up a mirror to oneself and exposes the degenerative tendencies already present in oneself. At the same time, the double illustrates the unsettling thought that identity is multifaceted and fluid. The integrity and stability of the human subject is challenged. (cf. Byron138, cf. Dryden 19) The shape shifter is also a visual representation of this anxiety, the metaphorical body refuses to be put into one category (cf. Byron 140f). The skin is seen as the barrier that separates the outside from the inside and keeps the soul inside the body (cf. Halberstam 2,7) By this logic, changing of the outer appearance must go hand in hand with some change on the inside. While doubles, vampires and abhumans are often male (cf. Davison 136), the New Woman as a character is also expressed a as monster since she is seen as a threat to families and gender norms. Gothic works often see pure respectable women morph into evil aggressive females. (cf. Byron 139) These characters often show a sexually provoked reversion to a beast which is testament to the fact that New Woman were also considered degenerations. Monsters are often a product and symbol of a transformation from identity to sexual identity through failed repression as well as attempting to escape the human condition
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What makes a monster? In media, monsters are often portrayed as terrifying beings that wreak havoc wherever they go. In fact, the definition of monster is “a strange or horrible and often frightening creature” (“Monster”). However, monsters are not always so easy to identify – they exist in virtually every community in society. If to be strange or horrible is to be a monster, then, in a slightly more abstract line of thinking, humans can also be monsters.
The first major aspect that leads to the Creature’s fall from grace is appearance. Victor works tirelessly in academia because he believes to have found the solution to generate life. Once Victor succeeds, the Creature’s demonic appearance mortifies him. Victor describes his work with disdaining imagery, stating, “I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motivation, it became a thing such as even Dante could have conceived" (Shelley 36). Although Victor successfully creates what would be his greatest academic achievement, he abandons his creation, showing that the Creature's ugliness is a prevailing factor for his isolation from civilization.
The fear felt for monsters and ultimately connected to desire. Jeffery Cohen has a clear opinion of this. “We distrust and loathe the monster at the same time we envy its freedom, and perhaps its sublime despair.” They are both terrifying and the heart of fantasies. This accounts for the monster’s popularity.
Rhetorical Analysis of “Monsters and the Moral Imagination” Many people believe monsters are imaginary creatures that are seen in movies or even for others, it could be a serial killer that was heard about on the news. Stephen T. Asma wrote “Monsters and the Moral Imagination” which “first appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education in October 2009” (Hoffman 61). Asma, who is a professor of philosophy, examines how different individual’s perceptions of a monster can be different depending on the era or even events happening around them. In “Monsters and the Moral Imagination,” Stephen T. Asma wrote a nonfiction, persuasive article for an educated and possibly specialized audience to examine how the idea of monsters have changed over time, what could be the motivation to create them, or even how life experiences could change an individual’s perceptions.
Since the beginning of time, heroes in society have constantly changed. As society changed their perception of people, modern-day heroes such as Superman and Batman differ much from the heroes of Anglo-Saxon times like Beowulf. Characteristics of monsters within this time interval has also changed with society’s views. The element of fear affects our perception in distinguishing a hero from a monster.
In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Culture (Seven Thesis), Cohen analyzes the psychology behind monsters and how, rather than being a monstrous beast for the protagonist of the story to play against, “the monster signifies something other than itself”. Cohen makes the claim that by analyzing monsters in mythology and stories, you can learn much about the culture that gave rise to them. In Thesis 1 of Monster Culture, Cohen proposes that “the monster’s body literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy”, specifically the fear, desire and anxiety of the cultures that gave rise to it; for example, vampires, undead, represent a fear of death. Monsters are born of an intense fear, desire, or internal conflict, “at this metaphorical
The monster archetype in both modern and ancient literature has been shaped to benefit the protagonist, which is depicted with the conversion of the protagonist to the hero, the element of the climax, and its important role of protection. Converting the protagonist into the hero One of the main roles that the idea of a monster faces is converting the protagonist into a hero. This is
Bram Stoker, describes one of the verbal taboos of the Victorian era, violence, through the representation of vampires as “monsters” through the point of view of their victims in his novel Dracula. Stoker portrays violence in three distinct categories- physical, visual and psychological. Each one of these categories is described by one of the antagonists in the Novel, with Count Dracula as the physical aspect of violence, his underlings, the female vampires as the visual and Renfield, the patient at Dr. Seward’s mental asylum, as the psychological aspect of violence. This essay looks at the portrayal of such Categorical violence as different renditions of a “monster” and considers why Stoker would segregate violence in such a manner.
However, through examining the ancient sources of The Epic of Gilgamesh translated by Danny P. Jackson and Edith Hamilton’s compilation of myths in Mythology, and the modern sources of the book Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and the films of King Kong directed by various people, an analysis can be made of how monsters have changed from the past to the present
A Portrayal on Accidental Monsters In many folklore and legends, there are tellings of monsters. These monsters serve important roles to show what the culture, and its society is made of. When looking at monster it can be said that there are two different types : accidental and intentional. Different examples, such as, the Golem of Prague, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Beowulf, by Seamus Heaney, and the Tempest, by William Shakespeare, are examples of being an accidental monsters.
In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Culture (Seven Thesis), Cohen analyzes the psychology behind monsters and how, rather than being a monstrous beast for the protagonist of the story to play against, “the monster signifies something other than itself”. Cohen makes the claim that by analyzing monsters in mythology and stories, you can learn much about the culture that gave rise to them. In Thesis 1 of Monster Culture, Cohen proposes that “the monster’s body literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy”, specifically the fear, desire and anxiety of the cultures that gave rise to it;; fFor example, vVampires, undead, represent a fear of death. Monsters are born of an intense fear, desire, or internal conflict, “at this metaphorical
Monsters are described as big, ugly, no-feelings creatures. They are also described as creatures of hell or creatures that are not acceptable in the society. This is disagreeable, not all monsters are ugly, and some monsters do have some feelings. The monster Grendel, in the book Grendel by the author John Gardner, shows that he is sensitive and has human's feeling traits even though he is a monster. Different events in the book, prove that the monster is impressionable and afraid.
Monster Culture Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is the writer of “Monster Culture: Seven Theses.” He went to the University of Rochester and acquired a PhD in English and has been teaching at George Washington University since 1994. The intended audience of this essay is anybody interested in the monster culture. This essay came from Monster Theory: Reading Culture.
Duality is shown in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, a gothic tale of a scientist whom looks to advance the life-giving qualities of mother nature. Through this novel, Shelley proves that good and evil in human nature is not always simple to define, and that everyone has both of these qualities within them. The duality of human nature is shown through the characters of Victor Frankenstein and his monster, who are both heroes in the novel while simultaneously displaying anti-hero qualities. Shelley forces the reader to sympathize with them both but also creates gruesome ideas of the two. Frankenstein’s creature places himself in a submissive position when he begs his creator to have mercy on him and asking the creator to “create a female for [him] with whom [he] can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for [his] being.”
A classic element of gothic fiction typically involves a threatening atmosphere and it is very important that this is not just part of the background, but forms a crucial part