The following is my English essay answering the prompt: What is a monster?
A monster is never one specific thing; it’s a much more complex idea that evolves with us. The word monster begins as just that: a word. However, as we develop, we begin to associate certain qualities with the word as our imagination grows. Overtime, a person begins to develop their own idea of what truly terrifies them — enough so that it becomes a monster. A true monster is the shadow of mankind: the unknown inner dark side of one’s personality.
As a baby, there is no such thing as a monster. That doesn’t mean we don’t have fears as babies, we just haven’t yet conceptualized a monster. Our brains are impressionable, yet haven’t been exposed to much. Later, as kids, when we think of the word monster we associate it with frightening, large, scary creatures who may or may not be under your bed. Movies like Monsters Inc. aim to eliminate children’s fear by associating monsters with a friendly quality, such as Mike Wazowski. As we get older, our idea of a monster shifts. Our imagination becomes more sophisticated; therefore, so do our monsters. They become terrifying, tormenting, and terrorizing. Industries like Hollywood capitalize by using the paralyzing fear associated with monsters. More mature monsters, such as Brundlefly from the movie The Fly, stay imprinted in one’s mind: a constant reminder of their horror.
Up to this point in one’s life, the only ideas a person has of a monster has been influenced by time, media, and society. Only as a person really begins to question what is a monster, will they form their true definition of a monster. What a monster truly is, is the nefarious side of a person. When the deep and disturbing urges of a person that makes up their shadow is acted upon. Whatever leads a person to commit such horrible actions: that is a true monster. In R.L. Stevenson’s classic novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson expresses this idea through Hyde: a troglodytic juggernaut who terrorizes Jekyll and the city. He tramples over young girls and beats Sir Danvers to death with a cane. In doing so, Stevenson sends a clear message to society about the dangers of one’s shadow, and how everyone controls the balance over their inner monster.
If we as a society never challenge social boundaries, we would forever be stuck in a rigid society. As one can tell from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, if a person such as Dr. Jekyll is not allowed the freedom to fully express themselves, it can lead to a monstrous outcome. Once a person gives into their inner impulses, they embody a monster. As with most things, the meaning of this changes over time as society progresses. Although it’s important to be aware of what is currently acceptable, they should not be thought of as strict laws. What’s acceptable now could crucify one in the Victorian ages; even something as simple as talking about anything other than the weather. Most things we deem as basic rights would have made us monsters many years ago.
Anyone and everyone has the capability to become a monster. Every single soul has a dark side, whether it’s obvious or hidden. There are those who are obviously evil: take criminals for example. They have openly given in to their shadow, resorting to causing destruction and wreaking havoc; they disturbed the peace. Yet, even the most innocent people have the potential to resemble a monster. Once they intentionally inflict harm on another, they become a monster. It can take as little as a fraction of a second for someone to flip their switch, releasing a monster no one thought possible. The heinous and egregious actions of a being manifests a monster.
Monsters, Inc. Dir. Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, David Silverman. Walt Disney Pictures, 2001. DVD.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Dover Publications, 1991. Print.
The Fly. Dir. David Cronenberg. Perf. Jeff Goldblum. Universal Studios, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox,1986. DVD.