Premodern Monstrosity and the Power of Perspective(s)

To borrow an old saying, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Tastes vary, in other words, different people like different things, and a truism of monstrosity is that one group’s monster is another group’s beloved master, mistress, child, or friend (etc.). A number of scholars over the years have considered this issue of perspective, including the influential literary critic Umberto Eco, whose study “On Ugliness” explores the monstrous things that repel us as humans. Eco considers what the attraction (and repulsion) is to the gruesome and the horrific, and asks: is ugliness found in the eye of the beholder? With such ideas in mind, for the first part of your Blogpost I’d like you to address in broad terms the ways in which monstrosity is, in essence, “in the eye of the beholder” as it pertains to one of our recent creatures. I would prefer that you address one of Shakespeare’s characters in The Tempest for this part, but since that play is now optional due to Stockton’s new post-Spring Break schedule, as an alternative you may consider the impact/influence of perspective on an ancient or medieval monster studied before spring break.

The second part of your Blog is related, but will be a bit more narrow in its focus. In his novel The Counterlife, renowned American author Philip Roth (writing as a writer very much like Roth himself) comments that “The treacherous imagination is everybody’s maker – we are all the invention of each other, everybody a conjuration conjuring up everyone else. We are all each other’s authors.” What Roth is subtly getting at in this passage is the fact that we all construct our own reality, and we all perceive the world as we will, serving as the “author” of the truths around us.  For class on Thursday, you will be reading excerpts from John Gardner’s masterful novel Grendel, which tells the well-known Beowulf story from the perspective of the monster. Next week, you will be writing a longer account where you explore and consider the point-of-view of a specific monster, so as a kind of practice for this kind of thinking – and also to fuel some preliminary thoughts about monstrosity and perspective – I’d like you to consider how the view of a particular monster changes if he/she is seen from a different perspective. So, what happens to a particular “monstrous” story when depicted from the point-of-view of another character or person from his/her world, or through the vision of him/her
themselves? Pick another monster that we have studied of late, and offer some insights about what they might say if they (or someone else from their world) got to tell their story, about how their understanding of certain actions and “realities” would differ from those around them. Feel free to be creative here, if you wish.

26 thoughts on “Premodern Monstrosity and the Power of Perspective(s)

  1. Monstrosity being “In the eye of the beholder” is the idea that depending on who you are and what you have lived through will play a big role in how you view the world in terms of it not being so black and white. The monster I wanted to think about in terms of this was the monsters in the movie “Freaks” we watched in class. The real monster was no doubt the acrobat, she was using them for money and made fun of them. The part that was not so clear cut was the end when the other performers get their revenge and turn her into a duck. This with no context makes them look evil. But when you know the whole story it is easier to see it from another point of view. Although it may have gone too far you can understand why the ‘freaks’ would feel betrayed enough to go to these extremes.
    For part two, when looking at a monster from a different point of view we often can sympathize with them. For example one of my all time favorite movies, Maleficent. Maleficent is the evil queen from the infamous movie Sleeping Beauty. She is known for being one of the most evil beings of all time, she curses a baby, and babies represent innocence and she shows no mercy. So it is interesting when we see this from a different perspective in the Maleficent series. We see Maleficent as a protector of her land and someone who was manipulated by Sleeping Beauty’s father. Making her the victim and her actions a little less ‘black and white’. I have also seen many interpretations of a monster we discussed in class Dracula. Many vampire stories are about misunderstood good vampires who want to be accepted as everyone does.

  2. In the Tempest, Prospera commits Monstrous actions. Prospera has magical witch-like powers that she uses to control objects, people, and the weather to fit her plan. She manipulates the other characters in the story like they are puppets. Prospera does not consider the impact her actions have on others. She uses the spirit, Ariels powers to her advantage by promising him freedom. Prospera also abuses her slave Caliban. I would say that Prospera is a monster based on her actions in the movie. However, Prospera herself believes that her actions are justified. She does not see herself as a monster because she believes that she needs to punish her brother for his actions.
    Polyphemus from the odyssey was a monster in the story. However, the story of Polyphemus was only told through Perseus. Polyphemus was mad that a crew of strangers randomly appeared at his home. Polyphemus was living his life and minding his own business and Perseus interrupted him. Polyphemus would say that his actions were self-defense. He would say that it is unfair to judge him and call him a minster based on one perspective. Polyphemus would say that it was unfair for Perseus to attack him without getting to know him personally. Perseus did not know anything about Perseus and he treated him like a monster without knowing anything about him.

  3. 1) The idea that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” can easily be traced back through the entire history of monsters. We constantly see monstrous creatures being described as “the other”, hideous and different from ourselves. Looking at the ancient Plinian races, many of those described could be considered ugly (and at the time, were likely terrifyingly hideous). In reality, a majority of these races/creatures seem to be men with strange/differing appearances. It is true that the one-legged sciopods were likely seen as strange and ugly to those that first observed them, as they had never before seen a race of men that didn’t possess the standard two legs like themselves. In turn, the sciopods probably viewed these first explorers as strange, and differing from their own view of the world. They may have never before seen a man with two legs, as they had lived in a world where they only had one, and by seeing a new creature with an extra appendage, they may have considered it foreign (much like if we found a race of men with a third arm).

    2) An interesting problem arises when we take a look at the titular “villain” in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When Dracula is first met, he tells Jonathan Harker about the history of his family (likely his own history, but he doesn’t wish to reveal his unnaturally long life). He presents the idea that the Dracula family has had a long and honorable history, and that they have been present for so many world shaping historical events. He is proud of his “heritage”, and considers himself of an almost royal bloodline. We, as the reader, see Dracula as this cunning, evil, and dastardly creature, but if we were to view the world through his eyes, it is possible that we would instead view him as just another being, acting on instinct which just so happens to involve the harming of mortal men. Much like in Grendel, the creature doesn’t necessarily view their acts as evil. They only see it as “This is what I am, and this is what I do.”. It is almost as if they are just naturally higher on the food chain, but are depicted as devils because we are their prey.

  4. 1. The phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” can apply to many monsters and forms of monstrosity. One example that comes to mind is Medusa, where her monstrosity is truly in the eye of the beholder. In her human form, she was a priestess of Athena who appears to have done nothing wrong. She was raped by Poseidon and was cursed to become a gorgon because of that incident. Afterwords, men who heard about the monster she became tried to kill her just so they could add another trophy for their collections. Medusa’s actions are not monstrous here. The way that I see it, she was punished for being sexually assaulted, which is messed up in it of itself. Then, she has to use her new powers to defend herself from random men who try to kill her. If monstrosity is in the eye of the beholder, this beholder doesn’t find anything monstrous about Medusa.

    2. Again, Medusa would be a good example for this last exercise. If she got to tell her part of her story, perhaps people would be more sympathetic. She practices a form of self-isolation; she seems to be off in her own land by herself, not raiding villages and murdering people randomly. If more people knew about how she was cursed, perhaps less men would try to kill her. Perhaps it would be viewed as socially unacceptable to try to kill her; the thought that she’s had enough bad fortune and it’s better to just let her live out her life alone on her land peacefully may spread among the citizens of Greece and she may be able to live out the rest of her life in peace.

  5. 1. A great example of a monster of many perspectives is a dragon, and even though a dragon can be medieval or of Chinese descent, the one I want to focus on is the medieval dragon. Dragons are either seen as a horrifying monster or an exotic beauty of nature. The eye of the beholder means the perspective of the individual judging the dragon, so if someone were to say, “dragons are scary and they destroy kingdoms with unrelenting fire” then that is a monstrous perspective from the eye of the beholder. Vice versa if someone else were to say, “dragons are cool and I would love to have a pet dragon.”

    2. To discuss another type of serpent, Medusa would obviously see things a lot differently from her own perspective. She would tell a story of a pure, gorgeous woman who was defiled, robbed of her innocence and thrown to the wolves by her own mentor over jealousy of her initial appearance. Now she only wants to be left alone but every warrior wants her head so she must constantly fight for survival.

  6. 1. Throughout time we have always ostracized those deviating from societal norms, especially when it comes to physical appearance. Many of the Plinian races and monsters we discussed had no monstrous behavior, only monstrous appearances. Bearded Ladies are a great example of this. They are normal human beings who have a characteristic we deem as different and horrid. But the ladies were human, had lives and interests and dreams. If a person took the time to look past the thing they were told to scorn, they may see the beauty of the so called monster.

    2.Stories are all about perspective. For example, I see John punching Jack in the face. I would likely assume John to be the criminal or monster. I do not have any other perspective because this was the only part of the story I was able to observe. What I was not there for was Jack attacking Johns younger brother with special needs. With this new perspective, I see John as a hero, his brother as a victim, and Jack as the monster. By knowing other characters perspectives or sides of a story, reasoning behind actions become clearer. To relate it to a monster we have covered, we can look at Medusa. In the legend, she is a woman who turns others to stone by simply making eye contact. The perspective of an observer would say she was a monster. But knowing she was cursed by Poseidon after trying to escape assault, and that she was loyal to Athena and tried to please her makes the observer feel sympathy. Medusa suddenly becomes a victim with Poseidon becoming the monster.

  7. 1. The phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” applies to how a monster is displeasing looking to people, which makes them become monsters because they have a different look to them. Appearances on monster have changed over the years to make them pleasing for people. In the past, many of the presentations would have to deformation. Some even do not look like a human in any way. For example, vampires looked different now than they did in 1930 when they first came out. Then they were only one version of them, and now there are so many versions that we cannot keep track.

    2. Medusa is an excellent example particular “monstrous” story when depicted from the point-of-view of another character. Someone made her become a monster because they did not know what happened to her. Poseidon raped Medusa because of her beauty, and Athena did not feel sorry for her, so she cured her to have snakes’ heads as hair. He took her innocence and made it was her fault that happened. Everyone made her be this evil person when she is this sad person that had something terrible happen to her, and no one agrees what happened to her. They don’t know about the real story about her only the one that people made about her.

  8. 1.) In Marie de France’s “Bisclavret,” we learn that Bisclavret is a werewolf after his wife confronts him for disappearing for a couple of days. Although Bisclavret is physically a monster in this story, his wife’s attitude and behavior towards him seem more monstrous than the werewolf himself. The wife was disgusted by the truth and decided to not only leave her husband for another knight but ordered the knight to steal her husband’s clothes to ensure that he could never transform back into his human self. After reading this short story, we can see that monstrosity is in the eye of the beholder. Bisclavret is observed as a monster solely by the fact that he a werewolf; however, he hid this secret from his wife in fear of losing her. Yet it is his wife who is observed as a monster in this story for her actions that effected Bisclavret’s life for a very long time.

    2.) When a “monstrous” story is depicted from a different point of view, it shows that monsters do not fall under common misconceptions that society forms. Witches, for instance, have been mistaken for evil beings that seek to harm humans as they fly around on their broomsticks. For so long, society has portrayed witches this way due to pop culture films. One particular film that comes to mind is “Hocus Pocus.” This 1993 Halloween film portrays three evil witches as monsters who suck the souls of young children to maintain their immortality. Yet, the reality of witches is that they seek to connect with “the universe, nature, humanity, their ancestors, and themselves (Stardust, 2018).

  9. 1) The idea the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is saying that something can’t be monstrous unless someone views them as monstrous. I feel like a good example of this would be the freak shows. They found people that did not fit into the “normal” appearance and showed them to the world for entertainment which is not right. At the end of the movie the people in the freak shows turned against the people running the show and it did not end well. If people just saw the end of the movie where the freaks went after the creators and the “normal” people, they would think that the freaks are the monsters even though I think it was a little over done but the freaks had their purpose but if you didn’t see the whole thing you would think the freaks were the monsters.
    2) The perspective you use to look at a monster has a big impact on how you think about them. Think about political monsters. Let’s take President Trump for example. If you look at him from his own point of view, he would think he is doing good for our country and he wants to help make our country better along with every other President before him. If you look at Trump as an outsider, you look at his appearance and the way he talks and acts. There are two groups of people that both look at him differently. One looks at him and does not agree with him at all and is always making fun of him, along with that you have the people that don’t agree because the people they are around tell them not to agree. Then, there is the group that agrees with what he is doing for our country and don’t see him as the monster that the other group see. The “monster” may not see what they are doing as wrong but from a persons own beliefs and what they know could think of it as a terrible act.

  10. 1) One group of monsters that can be seen from different perspectives are the Philian monsters. Their unusual bodies and behaviors are described as a warning in some texts, and with curiosity in others. Depending on perspective, they can be seen with fear, fascination, or even something in-between.
    2) We see the Philian monsters as having strange characteristics, but do they see us in the same way? After all, their definition of a “normal person” differs from our definition. They may see us as creatures with otherworldly attributes to be observed, feared, and/or studied. Going a bit deeper, how do these Philian races see each other? Is it with the same curiosity and xenophobia that we give them?

  11. Much like how “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, ugliness and monstrosity fall into the same vain of perception. An easy example of this comes in the form of witches as, while human, are still seen as monsters given their magical powers (often unchristian), affiliation with demons, strange practices with “dark arts”, and defiance of gender norms. Yet witches are still seen in a positive light with characters such as Glinda the Good Witch of the North and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and the practice of witchcraft being viewed in a medicinal, spiritual, and community aspects. Although still viewed in a negative light by accounts, witches are not often lumped into being a monster anymore as perceptions of religion, gender, and witchcraft changed and not perceived in “black and white”.

    The monster Grendel is seen more as a misunderstood creature from John Gardner’s Grendel compared to the original tale of Beowulf when viewed from the former’s point of view. If one were to look at the tale of the Jersey Devil, then the story rapidly changes. Instead of being a tale of a mother turning her child into a devil out of spite, the Jersey Devil is the tale of a baby who lost its humanity and was rejected by the race that bore it. How this creature has wandered the Pine Barrens for centuries and watching it’s home be destroyed for human civilizations. In this perspective, the Jersey Devil becomes a tragic figure doomed to watch its home be changed and destroyed by humans, with them being a reminder of its lost humanity.

  12. Part 1:
    We’ve discussed the idea that monstrosity is “in the eye of the beholder” a few times already in class. From what is displayed throughout history with different adaptations of monsters, they’re seen as horrible and ugly creatures that we should fear. One “monster or creature” I could use as an example would be Aliens. Any movie or TV show has their own idea and depiction of what these creatures could potentially look like. They are usually seen as these ugly, tall, green beings with big heads and large black eyes. We have these preconceived thoughts about what Aliens look like, but we rarely see them as “other humans” that come from another planet that is just like Earth. No one really knows what Aliens look like, and who’s to say if they exist or don’t? They don’t always have to be shown as ugly or disturbing looking creatures, for all we know they could look just like us and we have no true way of knowing.

    Part 2:
    One great example would be Witches and how there have been many different stories surrounding the history of witches has gone from crazed women to more monstrous beings. The main “perspective” and overall history of witches started in Salem with the mass hysteria of women harassing children and practicing witchcraft. The men and women accused of witchcraft in Salem were simple people who were innocent and didn’t deserve to die at the hands of children and misguided adults. From an outside perspective, like someone studying what actually caused the mass hysteria, could explain that much of the hysteria was caused by hallucinogens from the consumption of ergot. Many historians can agree that the Salem Witch Trials was mainly caused by eating the contaminated rye grains in their food and that’s why everyone started going mad. If those who were accused could tell their side of the story and people actually made sense of what they were saying instead of denying everything they said was wrong, their lives could have gone completely different.

  13. 1.) Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, but ugliness too. Everybody has a unique set of experiences and perspectives that they use to make judgments about other people. What one considers repulsive, another finds beautiful. For example, the historical bearded women were viewed as terribly ugly and weird for having this excess hair. This made people categorize them as a monster, unfairly so. Not everyone has the same standards of what is beautiful or not. A monster can be something different for everyone. We all also have our fears that drive us to behave towards others in certain ways. Snap judgements are often unnecessarily made in terms of appearance, creating some of the most interesting “monsters” in history.

    2.) The Cyclops Polyphemus from the Odyssey would have something much different to say about his own story, if given the chance. To Odysseus, his men, and the audience, this horrific monster was considered disgusting. However, if we were looking at things through Polyphemus’ eye, rather than that of the “hero”, our ideas may change. He could’ve defended himself in saying that he prefers to live alone away from people, and that if they had just let him be, he wouldn’t have attacked. People can learn a lot by looking at monsters from their perspective, rather than whatever hero vanquished them.

  14. 1) Monstrosity is most certainly in the eye of the beholder. In Shakespeares “The Tempest”, Caliban is most seen as a monster. The reason for this is because not only does he look different than others, he tried to rape Miranda, which is monstrous. Some may call him a devil or other names, but Prospero does not seem to think of Caliban as a monster. It seems he actually cares for him and even taught him how to speak. To some, Prospero could be seen as a monster because he caused a shipwreck that his brother and father were on. Antonio could also be seen as a monster because he exiled his brother to an island to gain power.
    2) The Cyclops is a great example of when a story is told from a monsters point of view, it could totally change the context. To Polyphemus, he had intruders in his cave trying to steal his food. He killed some of the soldiers, but it could have been because he felt threatened because he had strangers in his house. After Odysseus escaped, he taunted Polyphemus as he was sailing away. Polyphemus then had his father put a curse on him and made it hard for him to get home. What else was Polyphemus supposed to do? He was stabbed in the eye after strangers came in and stole his food and stayed in his cave. To Polyphemus, he was just trying to protect his home and get revenge. He wasn’t a monster in the first place.

  15. I have not gotten around to watching the Tempest yet, so the monster I will pick regarding beauty being relative or subjective is Medusa. She was a beautiful girl who was raped for her beauty, and punished because of it. She was transformed into something “monstrous;” that is, a girl with snakes for hair that could turn people into stone with a glance. She then went to live by herself, but was then hunted by “heroes” who were off to slay the “monster,” building up a body count without meaning to. This would make her monstrous to some, though she was just defending herself. Some might even consider the snake hair beautiful, in a way. I don’t know if her face would have changed or not, but if it was just the hair, then she was a pretty girl with snakes for hair. Not much difference.
    Following this idea, I would not consider Medusa a monster. She was not responsible for what happened to her, or anything that happened after she was punished. If it was told from her point of view, we would be blaming Poseidon and Athena for raping and cursing her, as well as rooting for her as she turned each hero to stone. Even in modern day, though it is certainly getting better, we blame the victim; blaming what they wore, how they acted, saying they were “asking for it.” Medusa’s story can easily be put into a modern context. I think an important take away from this story is the concept that some monsters, villains, or otherwise antagonists have an origin story, a reason for acting or looking the way they do, and people (in the stories, at least) are too quick to label them monsters without finding out what that backstory is.

  16. Monstrosity is “in the eye of the beholder” because others decide if one is a monster. Many of the monsters we studied were only seen as monsters because of their looks and not for their actions. An example is the movie “Freak Show” that we watched in class. Some called them monsters for their appearance but they did not act any differently than the average human. Another example is Medusa. She was one of the most beautiful women before she was cursed. What many do not know is that she was cursed for being raped and losing her virginity. Athena turned her hair into snakes and her skin color changed. By simply looking into her eyes, anyone could be turned into stone. Her appearance made her a monster to everyone. But was she really a monster? She was not punished for something she did but rather for what was done to her. Growing up I always thought that she was a monster until I learned her story. I no longer see her as the monster I thought she was. Therefore, monstrosity is “in the eye of the beholder.” Individuals decide whether someone or something is a monster.
    From “Beowulf,” I think that Grendel’s mother is the most misunderstood. In the poem, she is seen as a horrible monster that lives under a lake. In “Grendel” by John Gardner, she can not speak. We also learn how she tried to calm Grendal when he was loud. It can be determined that she was acting like any other mother would. She was mad because her son was killed. If they had not done anything to him, her reaction would have been different. In “Grendel” we learn that she is isolated and forgotten language. Imagine what happened to her to be isolated and forget her language. She never acted negatively until Grendel was hurt. In her world, she was only defending Grendel. Is that not what most mothers would do?

  17. 1.) Tastes do in fact vary from differences and perspectives. A good example of this would be the Amyctyrae monster from the story of Pliny the Elder. The Amyctyrae was the unsociable monster. “This race has a lower lip or sometimes an upper that protrudes so far that it can serve as an umbrella against the sun. The Amyctyrae live on raw meat.” Pliny describes this ‘monster’ as bestiary, when in fact they are just women from Ubangi that use lip-stretching techniques. In the Ubangi culture women that practice lip-stretching are seen as beautiful. Perspectives are truly based “in the eye of the beholder.”
    2.) The first four chapters of Grendel are very depressing, it is not just humans/animals that see Grendel as an ugly monstrous being but himself as well. However, I would like to explore the perspectives of Bisclavret the werewolf. The wife of Bisclavret, Brittany, sees her husband as fearful, bestially, and an ugly monster after he explains to her that he is a werewolf. Brittany betrays her husband and Bisclavret is stuck as a werewolf where he now perceives himself as those traits. However, when the King finds Bisclavret he sees through his beastily figure and sees a man. In fact the King sees Bisclavret as a “Marvel of nature.” The King even ends up saving the knight that is stuck in the werewolf body. This just goes to show that the perspective of a monster comes from your own inner thoughts, what one might see as a monster might be seen as something beautiful to someone else.

  18. A recent creature that can relate to monstrosity being “in the eye of the beholder” is Medusa. Medusa became the monster she was all because she was raped by Poseidon and then cursed to become a gorgon. Medusa did not deserve the punishment she had received especially for being the victim of rape. Due to her new appearance and becoming the monster she was people went out and tried to kill her in order to have her head as a trophy. Medusa turned these people to stone because she was just defending her own life. In my eyes, Medusa was never really a monster at all, even though she looked the way she did. The real monster was Poseidon.
    Medusa fits this part of the post as well. If Medusa was able to tell her side of the story and how she became the monster everyone knew her to be, I bet people would understand her side. I bet if Medusa had the chance to offer her own insights people would feel sorry for her and understand her pain. Medusa never went out of her way to attack people either. People came to her and her territory to try and kill her. When these people came to kill her, she was just simply defending herself. Especially since Medusa was the victim of rape, I bet people would accept her and finally understand why she lives in isolation. She would probably even explain to people that the reason she lives in isolation is so that no one accidentally gets turned to stone by looking at her.

  19. Part 1: Monstrosity is “in the eye of the beholder” because identifying someone or something as a monster takes perspective and personal beliefs. A monster that can relate to this is Medusa. Up until we discussed the truth in class, I only considered Medusa to be some kind of monster because the way she turned people to stone was the reason everyone else deemed her to be something other than what she actually way. Medusa was raped and without knowing that, you too might agree that the ability to turn others into stone is a monstrous action. The awful thing that happened to her turned into an undeserved punishment.
    Part 2: The story of witches are told by the accusers during the Salem Witch Trials. From this point of view, these accused “witches” are seen as monstrous due to the hysteria surrounding their apparent horrific acts being done by these innocent women. If the accuses witches were to tell their story from their perspective, I believe that the end of this era would have come much sooner than it actually did. I also think that their behaviors would have been seen as having a real intention behind them instead of jumping to the conclusion of witchcraft.

  20. Monstrosity is definitely “in the eye of the beholder”. In Friedman’s “The Plinian Races” there are monsters called Giants. To consider a person a monster for just being taller or larger than the normal person is quite rude. People consider others to be monsters just because of slight differences and appearances. Through the Giants’ eyes I bet they see themselves as normal people and that everyone else around them are monsters for being so much smaller than them.

    Another monster from Friedman’s “The Plinian Races” is the Blemmyae. They were monsters because they’re appearance of having their faces on their chests with no head or neck. If the Blemmyae could give their own point of view they would probably feel that everyone else who had heads with faces on them were the real monsters. People who were “normal” probably avoided the Blemmyae and were afraid of them.

  21. 1. For the first part, I would like to address the ‘Monster’ I chose for the exhibit project. Black Beard was truly a monster of perspective as I learned during my research. For himself and his crew, he was protective and mainly looting for the survival of himself and his crew and only killing when threatened. However, as media at the time has placed it, and as most biased modern-day accounts described him. He was supposedly ruthless and dangerous, ‘finally being killed in action’. This brings into the idea of Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder (or the more common term, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) as for one Black Beard and his crew was in the mindset to survive and to have enough resources to handle himself and his crew. Yet the media and governments deemed him dangerous and deadly based on his perspective.

    2. For the second part I was going to go witches, but seeing as many have already done that, to not beat a dead horse even worse I decided to choose Medusa. Medusa’s voice could never be heard, to catch sight of her face and her eyes you were condemned to stone. So real quickly she became misunderstood as she couldn’t tell people why she was like this, why she can’t control turning people to stone. She was secluded, but it makes you wonder how many people she tried to confront before she secluded herself and was deemed a monster in the community and in possibly her own eyes. If she was able to tell her story to the people of the world and be able to not be deemed a monster, she could possibly turn the world onto the gods, for even gods feared the united humankind, and medusa’s voice and the story of survival could be a stepping stone into a new world where the gods don’t have so much power as they once did.

  22. Well, for the first part of this assignment I would like to use the vampire as my monster. The vampire was a creature that had a lot of indecency associated with it when it was first created and thought up to exist. These beliefs were because many people were very conservative and believed that women should be conservative and private with their sexual acts and what a vampire does basically eludes to rape in a sense.
    For the second prompt, I would like to use the witches from Salem Massachusetts as an example. In their point of view, they are just normal girls who have been wrongly accused of being witches, and they are scared, maybe perhaps because they know that they will not be acquitted of being involved with Satan, just as many before them have not been. Clearly they believe they are not monsters, while everyone around them believes them to be monsters.

  23. To me, the phrase,“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder“, means that beauty and ugliness are basically subjective and very depending on other peoples perspectives and experiences. This statement can apply to any monster, real or fictional, including the character Grendel from the Norse saga of Beowulf. Grendel was seen by Beowulf, his men and members of the village as a hideous an extremely evil, violent creature. Grendel would massacre men at his hearing of men celebrating or singing in the beer hall. Of course to these people Grendel would be considered horrible and vile because he is seemingly killing men For some thing as innocent as drinking and having fun. However If the perspective changes to that of Grendel’s mother, or Grendel himself, this “monster” may just hold more beauty from those perspectives.
    To continue examining the character of Grendel we know that there have been depictions of Grendel story from his point of you which makes him a more sympathetic character. From this perspective we see that Grendel lived a lonely miserable life and that he felt shunned by society and that the noise from the man was over the top and inconsiderate. You may also look from the perspective of Grendel‘s mother. Upon learning of Grendel’s death, Grendel’s mother was extremely sad at the loss of her child. Clearly from her perspective, Grendel was more of an Innocent child like figure, hu’s death was unjust. The stark differences and perspectives from person to person are very evident in this example.

  24. 1. One of the monsters we discussed in class were the freak shows of the 19th century. These people were deemed freaks by society. The influence of society is strong and spreads quickly. Many of these “freaks” had mental or physical illnesses that caused that to differ from what society had declared “normal”. This influence completely changed how people viewed these “freaks”. In reality, they were just human beings like everyone else. But because of whatever abnormally they had, they were suddenly deemed monsters all because of society.
    2. Switching perspectives of a story can drastically shift the narrative. Suddenly, the villian or monster seems more relatable. We as readers learn why they are how they are. Maybe they had a bad childhood or went through a traumatic event. As the reader grows more attached to the so-called villain, the character previously called the hero begins to appear more monstrous. Readers feel sympathy for the monster or villian in question after learning their history. The perspective shift can completely change the character roles of a story. Although we did not study this in class, the first event that came to mind was the pilgrims entering America. From an American perspective, these Pilgrims are painted as heroes who discovered our country. This is certainly true from an American perspective. But when you think of it from the perspective of the Native Americans, the story flips. Now, it is foreigners coming into your land, killing you, and taking it. Now those Pilgrims don’t seem so honorable after all.

  25. 1. What makes a monster scary depends on the person’s fears. For example, in The Odyssey, the cyclops can be considered a terrifying monster who threatens the lives of Odysseus and his men. On the other hand, he may be perceived as not very smart, because he was easily tricked by Odysseus. If a person sees this monster’s flaw as a weakness, it may make the Cyclops less scary to them. The cyclops also does not have typical monster traits, such as claws, sharp teeth, etc. The Cyclops design may not be “scary” to most people. However, some people may believe that the Cyclops’ having one is unsettling, making it scarier.
    2. The Cyclops can also be applied to Philip Roth’s comment. The context of the Cyclops changes if we think of him as a child. The reader may feel bad for the Cyclops, since most humans have an inclination to protect children. His temper tantrums and not-so-smart actions may be justified in this context as well. When reading the Odyssey, I thought of the Cyclops as a teenager, especially when he yells at his father, Poseidon, to get revenge for him. If the Cyclops is a child, he may be easier to reason with, but if the Cyclops is a moody teenager, he may be impossible to reason with and potentially more dangerous.

  26. If beauty is determined by the eye of the beholder, who is to say that the same rules do not apply to ugliness as well? We as people determine ugly as something which strays from what we see as beautiful or what we see as normal. If the actions and characteristics of a specific person or creature do not fall under the usual, then we perceive that creature as being ugly. An example of a monster that some people would deem ugly would be a “freak show” like the ones that we discussed in class and saw in the film that we watched. Just because they may behave differently and have a different appearance than most others, they are considered ugly, an example of ugliness “in the eye of the beholder”.

    If a monstrous story is perhaps told from the point of view of the monster themselves, the story takes a more sympathetic turn and may cause the reader to feel bad for the monster. We would be able to see into the monster’s head and possibly have a reasoning for why it does the things that it does (though some things would perhaps be a little difficult to have reasoning for such as eating humans or something else along those lines). From the perspective of the monster themselves, readers would also be able to see the ways that the creature may be shunned from society and feared because of its actions that people may think are monstrous but the monster may think are part of its daily life.

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