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The Monster: The Face of Fears

A literary examination of monsters, including their purpose, role, classification, and cultural significance.

James Anthony

on 9 November 2012

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Transcript of The Monster: The Face of Fears

The Monster: The Face of Fears Monsters can be organized
into three main categories. Taxonomy of
"Monsters as Metaphors: Freud and the Representation of Monstrosity in Horror Texts"
by Steven S. Schneider Dead bodies
that return
to life are
"zombies" Non-natural Zombies include
vampires and mummies.

Medico-scientific Zombies
are man-made, as in
Frankenstein's Monster. The souls of the
dead that
return to life
are "spirits." These include disembodied (ghosts)
and embodied spirits (posession). MONSTERS MONSTERS Types of psychic
phenomena include
telekinesis and telepathy. A WIP MONSTERS Physical doubles
are "replicas." Natural replicas are
doppelgangers (twins, clones); non-natural replicas are replicants (robots, cyborgs). Mental doubles
are insane. There can be multiple personalities within the same body, a transformation between two different bodies (Jekyll/Hyde, werewolf),
or a broken mind (serial killer). The Monster is
interstitial. It defies categorization, falling outside of our understanding of the way the world works; furthermore, this interstitial quality breaks down the barriers that protect us from the things we fear. In fact, many monsters represent fears, and their ability to cross into categories that we place ourselves into brings our fears closer. Human beings use categories to understand their world and experiences, and to separate them from things they find unpleasant or frightening It is the interstitial
quality that gives
the monster its ability
to cause fear. Why do we fear monsters? Believe it or not, the monster itself is only the face of the fear. It may be scary by itself, but the things it represents - the things it forces us to think about - are the really scary part. Fear of the monster itself is only the tip of the iceberg. Monster make use of phobic (fear-based) pressure points, which, when pressed, create feelings of unease, disgust, and confusion. For example, consider Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein." Arguably, there are two monsters in the story: Dr. Frankenstein himself and the creature he creates. Dr. Frankenstein creates life. In nature, only a female has the ability to create life, so his experiments breach issues of gender roles and family. Furthermore, his experiment is an attempt to cheat death, a natural process, and so creates an unnatural creature. That creature embodies its own social issues. Its loneliness and isolation alone force the reader to deal with these emotions in their own lives, but the creature also presents questions about child neglect and abnormal family structures. The monster's eventual turn to violence also presents one of the strongest cultural taboos: desperation. Many phobic pressure points are taboos. In this context, a "taboo" is anything considered "wrong" by an individual's culture. Reasons for this "wrongness" vary, but generally boil down to the possibility of taboos to cause harm to the society and people living in it. Violence is taboo because it results in chaos and death, while the destruction of nature is taboo because it would eliminate food sources and wildlife. In the end, no matter the taboo or the reason it became labeled that way, presenting, questioning, or breaking a taboo causes some amount of discomfort and fear for just about everyone. A few common monsters and the phobic pressure points they press: The werewolf:
animalistic behavior, destruction of nature, interclass and interracial relations, violence The vampire:
immortality/prolonged youth, cannibalism, intimacy with strangers, necrophilia, violation of gender roles The psychopath:
annimalistic behavior, cannibalism, child abuse/neglect, familial dysfunction, violence Monsters
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