What Makes A Monster English Literature Essay Free Essay

In this essay I will try to specify what it is that is genuinely monstrous within nineteenth Century Gothic literature. I have decided to look at ; Dracula by Bram Stocker ; Carmilla by Le Fanu and briefly at She by H Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doyle ‘s The hound of the Baskervilles. While on the surface, the monsters in these books seem obvious I will try to demo that the “ Monsters ” are non ever what they seem to be and sometimes the most monstrous behavior is acted out non by the “ monster ” at all.

The word monster is defined as “ an fanciful animal… normally made up of assorted animate being or human parts, ” ( Collins English Dictionary- Dictionary.com ) such as a gryphon or a mermaid. However, it is besides described as “ a individual, animate being, or works with a pronounced structural malformation ” and “ a cruel, wicked, or cold individual. ” The Hound in The Hound of the Baskervilles is seen as a traditional monster in the first sense of the word. In the Novel, Watson described it as:

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An tremendous coal-black hound, but non such a hound as mortal eyes have of all time seen. Fire explosion from its unfastened oral cavity, its eyes glowed with a smouldering blaze, its muzzle and danders and dewlap were outlined in wavering fire. Never in the hallucinating dream of a broken encephalon could anything more barbarian, more dismaying, more beastly, be conceived than that dark signifier and barbarian face which broke upon us out of that wall of fog. ( Conan Doyle 149 )

This description of the “ beastly ” hound makes it seem supernatural and otherworldly. Conan Doyle chose to utilize such words as “ Smoldering ” , “ Fire ” and “ Savage ” to do us believe that this hound came from Hell. Conan Doyle ‘s modern-day audience were mostly a really Christian society and so this thought would play to a great extent on their heads and make the sense of fright Gothic novels are celebrated for.

However we find out at the terminal of the novel that the hound was a adult male made monster and Stapleton is the Godhead and the felon. He bought the “ strongest and most barbarian ” ( 158 ) hound he could happen from London and used “ unreal means to do the animal devilish ” and it was his aspiration to have the Baskerville estate that turned him into a liquidator. This suggests that freak lies at the bosom of adult male instead than in any supernatural signifier and that through giving into aspiration a monster is created.

On the surface, the lamias and Renfield, a adult male apparently under Dracula ‘s control, are the lone monsters in Dracula ; nevertheless, this is non rather the instance. It is True that Dracula is a described as a pervert ( Gorny, Eugene. Degeneration Theory ) , his description adheres to Lombroso ‘s description of a condemnable adult male ( Gothic Literature, 112 ) . Jonathan Harker notes that his face is “ a really strong aquiline, with high span of the thin olfactory organ and particularly arched anterior nariss… his superciliums [ are ] monolithic ” with a “ fixed and instead barbarous looking ” oral cavity ( 16, 17 ) . His actions are besides monstrous, he tries to occupy London so that he can hold more people to feed upon, he turns Lucy into a lamia and ends up slaying Renfield. The thought of devolution is of import here as it shows that Stoker ‘s society was seeking to utilize scientific discipline to understand what makes a monster. This is echoed in the novel as the lamia huntsmans use modern techniques such as maintaining records and keeping meetings when seeking to get the better of Dracula. The fresh becomes a partial jubilation of the thoughts of the businessperson professionals and suggests that modern ways will finally get the better of the old ways and through that a safer, better universe will be created.

This thought is slightly challenged by Harker ‘s character. He is a stereotyped middle class professional- a in-between category “ write thruster ” with good chances but besides suffers from conking tantrums and a general deficiency of manfulness. Throughout the novel, Stoker seems to propose that it is merely through copying the Count that the huntsmans will really get the better of him. Harker needs to go a adult male of action and the novel follows his journey towards the minute when he eventually is able to stop the Count ‘s life ( 314 ) . The Vampire huntsmans become monstrous on their quest and they engage in Acts of the Apostless of vampirism to salvage Lucy ‘s life. Van Helsing says that she “ wants blood and blood she must hold or decease ” ( 101 ) . He so performs the first of three blood transfusions. This bloodletting is an act of vampirism in itself and helps to foster suggest that the Bourgeoisie professionals are going pervert and hence more like Dracula. That the operation is non purely medical is shown when Van Helsing warns Dr Seward to non state Harker as it would “ at one time frighten him and enjealous him ” . This suggests that Van Helsing knows that the transfusion could be seen as sexual and hence pervert from their restricted in-between category reputability.

The count is a foreign interloper into the streets of London, and this shows the negative feeling at the clip towards “ foreign ” types. Britain was scared of invasion and this anxiousness is shown in Dracula through the fact of the European Count going to London and feeding off the people at that place. This suggests that the thought of “ Monster ” had deeper-seated significance for Bram Stoker and his modern-day audience to intend anything foreign, different or of a degenerative nature.

In resistance to this thought, in She, H. Rider Haggard introduces us to the Amahagger and although Holly describes their characteristics as “ Aquiline ” ( 75 ) and says that there “ was a cold and dark inhuman treatment stamped upon them that revolted [ him ] and which in some instances was about eldritch in its strength. ” At first glimpse, the Amahagger race seems to be what would be called a degenerative race. The word “ inhuman treatment ” suggests a ferociousness that would non be found in the civilized universe. Holly describes Billali, the caput of the Amahagger as holding eyes as “ acute as a serpent ‘s. ” This mention creates a nexus between the Amahagger and animate beings, proposing that they are non every bit evolved as Western civilization. The pick of animate being is besides relevant as to a Christian audience the serpent would make intensions of the snake in the Garden of Eden who tempted Eve to transgress ( Genesis 3, New Living Translation Bible pg4 ) . This makes it likely that the audience will believe that the Amahagger are degenerative and “ evil ” . However as we go through the fresh Holly enlightens us to the fact that the Amahagger have imposts and traditions that suggest they are far more civilized than we first thought. They have a matrimony usage and Ustane “ marries ” Leo with a kiss “ on the lips ” ( 78 ) . Holly comments that ;

It is funny to detect how the imposts of world on this affair vary in different states, doing morality an matter of latitude, and what is right and proper in one topographic point incorrect and improper in another. It must, nevertheless, be understood that, as all civilized states appear to accept it as an maxim that


ceremonial is the standard of morality, there is, even harmonizing to our canons, nil immoral about this Amahagger usage, seeing that the interchange of the embracing replies to our ceremonial of matrimony, which, as we know, justifies most things. ( 80 )

This shows that Holly is get downing to understand the Amahagger and does non happen them rather so monstrous because of it. Traditional values were of import at the clip of first publication and although Haggard was a colonialist, She seems to seek to understand different types of people instead than handle them as barbarians. The writer shows through associating their imposts to ours, that even if at first glimpse this race of people seem foreign and hence monstrous, if you look deeper They are non so different after all.

This thought is farther supported by the character of Holly. He describes himself as ; “ short, thick-set, and deep chested ” and has “ deep set gray eyes ” and “ a low forehead half overgrown with a swab of thick black hair ( 16 ) . He seems physically intimidating to the point of malformation, associating back to the 2nd definition of monster. ” Billaili calls him “ My Baboon ” ( 132 ) which would be related to Charles Darwin ‘s The Origin of Species by Haggard ‘s modern-day audience and so he offsets that with the fact that Holly has great mental strength excessively. He surveies at “ Cambridge ” ( 16 ) and is praised by Ayesha for holding “ a thought encephalon ” ( 171 ) . The writer does this to dispute the reader ‘s perceptual experience by linking both degenerative physical properties with an rational encephalon. He does this to do his reader ‘s inquiry their positions on the thought of devolution and to promote them to open their heads on the topic of what makes a monster.

In Carmilla the monstrous nature of the lamia is hidden behind a beautiful camouflage. She is described by Laura as holding a “ solemn but really reasonably face ” ( The Penguin book of Vampire Stories 84 ) and by Madame Perrodon as “ about the pretty animal I of all time saw… so soft and nice ” ( 83 ) . This description suggests beauty and innocence- the antonym of her vampiric nature. The words “ soft ” and “ nice ” are used to conceal her true ego from the reader. We find out that Carmilla is determined monster who will halt at nil to acquire what she wants. The description of her beauty is contrasted to that of the Mountebank on page 93. He is described as holding “ crisp thin characteristics that by and large accompany malformation ” and is demoing his “ white Fangs ” . This shows the Mountebank is physically monstrous nevertheless ; he manages to detect something the other character ‘s in the narrative do non and offers to register down Carmilla ‘s “ sharpest tooth ” . This exchange non merely foreshadows the action in the short narrative but besides challenges the reader ‘s perceptual experience of whether freak is physical or mental. Haggard besides uses this transition to research whether the thought of a monster is made up of category biass. Carmilla is upper category while the Mountebank is lower category and she says that her male parent would hold “ flogged [ The charlatan ] with a cart whip ” when all the charlatan was seeking to make was offer a service. The badness of Carmilla ‘s reaction suggests that the traveler has at least guessed some of the truth about her. This 6th sense could work in two ways ; the Mountebank recognises the monstrous nature of Carmilla because either he himself is monstrous, or it is because he is a good individual who has non been put under her spell- the reader is left to make up one’s mind.

Throughout this essay I have

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