Monsters have ruled the world of literature for centuries, slowly making it into a reader's life as a glorious experience of the surreal. In this short recap, let's go over the Monster theory by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen.
Monsters have built our worlds from the inception of literature. Everybody battles against ideals and crafts monsters of their own in an attempt to subdue the stupendous. The creation of monsters through literary works has framed an outcome so desirable that the very nature of monsters is questioned.
Jeffrey Cohen, a contributor to the monster theory provides insightful analogies on why we need monsters. His stand on the profound impact of monsters to pop culture is intuitive and progressive, applicable across all forms of literature. Through various literary pieces, characters like Frankenstein the giant creature, Polyphemus the Cyclops, and Grendel the monster have all graced culture and literature with newer insights. Despite the unique writing styles and varying periods of the pieces, all these creations have similar traits that are depicted through beautiful storytelling. Meddling with these creations has not only developed my knowledge of the monster theory that Cohen talks about, but also the very nature of the human psyche, built to suit the threshold of articulate literature at variable periods. It takes a keen eye to see through the monster theory as merely another creation.
The magnificent manner, in which the authors of fictional literature produce efficient character descriptions as plots advance, is incredible. I’ve noticed that most monsters depicted share common greed for power over mortality, a shared source that stems from what is most suitable to their unique characteristics. They are more powerful than man but pardoned of glorious accomplishments attributed to man. The only way they fit into the worlds they’ve been given is through monstrosity. Often outcasts and sheltered by shadows, these beings still manage to have a profound effect on their surroundings. Polyphemus was the son of Neptune; Frankenstein was the embodiment of man’s thirst for knowledge and Grendel was the fiercest being on Earth. They each portray a voracious understanding of mankind, while their power over man’s nature is mostly physical dominance. The aspects that lure the reader into the world of monsters are deeply accurate premises that depict the nature of dominance through monstrous acts.
Such a distinct adaptation of man’s search for meaning is rather well put through the monstrosity shown, serving almost as a template to the nature of war itself. The monsters serve as antagonists to like-minded warriors who also kill and find glory through bloodshed. However, their very existence is to aid the traumatic impressions of war. We all know that war can only be justified with blood. This is what I’ve noticed in the nature of the monsters as well; where their deeply personal correlation with the idea of death is similar to that of mankind, while their appetite for killing is far supreme.
Grendel for one, with his dying breath, refuses to go down as a being killed by Beowulf, a man. It can only be said that at desperate times, a desperate attempt for knowledge can cure the outbreak of harmful ideologies. The monster theory proves this necessity for knowledge quite brilliantly, especially during times of trouble. Cohen’s explanation of the need for a stronger antagonist is to ensure that human qualities remain victorious over any catastrophe. All the extracts were set at a time period of turmoil and congruent ideas surrounding bloodshed, applicable even to the present day. When explained, the dynamic nature of monsters is surrendered to the thirst for victory among men, thereby suiting plots to embrace the common humanity that the reader would otherwise miss. If a monster was the sole survivor of the plots, humans would have very little to glory. It can be said that because monsters were created in literature, we have witnessed the emergence of superheroes with superhuman qualities.
I was fascinated by the depiction of anarchy rather than the bloodthirsty gore of lands lost in time. Anarchists as each author would be, the amount of deeply rooted psychological warfare going on is immense. Homer with his literary pursuits has simply astonished generations with a knack for fine poetry in the Odyssey. It becomes clear that as each monster is created with an appetite that rivals the glorious nature of mankind, an internal audit is happening within the author's mind through exquisite storytelling. Nevertheless, the underlining idea of mortality is sorted out effectively through the character traits of monsters that rival the spirit of humankind. Their traits, no matter how powerful or vocal still manage to surrender to a human protagonist in the end. This protagonist is a man, seemingly weaker yet victorious in his pursuit. This to me, is a way of solving a major conflicting ideological crisis before it happens. Far sights in the affairs of living wealth are distributed across realms of imagination that seemingly reveal the very essence of humanity.
Considering the ideological reforms that went on during each set period of the creation of these monsters, such literary works conquer governing precepts of the time and project it to a reader. The need for monsters has always been paramount, the depiction even more so! A window into the collective consciousness of our history books, monsters reveal more than a prying eye over the reader's imagination.
After all, death is swallowed up in victory! This essentially is a keen deduction by readers through Cohen's recap of the monster theory.