Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you SCARY MONSTERS!

“There’s a monster!”

Look this way and that and try to see it. Jump into bed before it grabs your ankles and eats you. Don’t worry: as long as every bit of you is under the covers, it can’t get you. OK, so it gets a bit overheated trying to breathe, but you’ll be safe. Leave an air-hole if you like, but you never know what will happen. You are also safe if you go to sleep. Might as well try that.

In the morning, there are no monsters.

Although monsters are things you wouldn’t want to have, it seems that on some level, we do like to have monsters. And, in a way, we do have monsters. I don’t think that “Monsters” is a topic on the infant curriculum, like (inexplicably) “animal noises” or anything, but they all end up having a secure knowledge of monsters and the appropriate levels of abhorrence they engender.

Grendel was a monster in “Beowulf” and was presented as a descendant of Cain. Cain was attributed in Genesis with the world’s first murder, and was sent out to pace the earth, but with some kind of immunity through the “mark of Cain”. I don’t know if this “mark” was meant to be hereditry, but in Beowulf, Grendel is the transgressor – the over stepper, who is the outcast from society.

So the LORD put a mark on Cain to warn everyone not to kill him. But Cain had to go far from the LORD and live in the Land of Wandering, which is east of Eden.


So, Beowulf cuts off Grendel’s arm and that’s the end of Grendel, pretty much;  and Beowulf is the hero. But my 21st century conscience is not happy with this. Grendel was cast out –  an outcast – excluded from the society therefore hostile towards it. And many other monsters felt the same…

Frankenstein’s monster was rejected at the moment of creation and he is then a wanderer like Grendel, waiting for revenge. He is perceived as monstrous by his creator and therefore he begins to believe and find himself capable of the worst of evils.

Dracula was a monster, trying to move house. His appalling, predatory behaviour then brought about his downfall.

Again, the 21st century mind has worried about casting vampires in a bad light. In literature, they have been sanitised and included, given a medical condition rather than an evil streak. And their monstrousness has been lessened by their teen-fiction make-over.

Monsters these days are just misunderstood. In Monsters Inc, this was very clear. We got to see behind the life of a monster and learned, once again, that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Again and again we have movies and stories about a child meeting a monster, and fearing that if adults knew about it, they would try to kill it: E.T., the Iron Giant, various things involving the Loch Ness Monster…

Maybe children “get” monsters. And maybe that’s why they have them.

And I don’t.

I’ve got a pitchfork and I know how to use it.


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10 thoughts on “And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you SCARY MONSTERS!

  1. Does being monstrous though necessarily make you a monster. Is a monstrous act only the capacity of a monster or is it just the case that all monsters are just misunderstood, like children who haven’t yet learned to communicate fluently or the socially inept who’ve really polarised their social ineptness to a level perceived as monstrous. It’s rambling and a bit shambolic but there’s a point in there!

    • I think you make the same point as me, kind of. Monsters beget monsters I think. By rejecting and excluding people, they are perceived as monstrous – and I think it is a “fact” that people live up to expectations. I think. Maybe.

  2. On modern monsters being “misunderstood”, The Gruffalo (much beloved by the neices and nephew) has some monsters quite intent on nothing other than eating the diminutive hero, and all have to be outwitted by some rapid thinking.

    The revived Doctor Who features quite a few monsters, as many out to take over the universe as there are who help out the Doctor. The most effective chills have come from everyday objects, especially a small gas masked child endlessly saying “Are you my mummy?”

    The novel and movie “Let The Right One In” has a vampire who appears to be a 12 year old girl. Vampirism there is a medical condition, but the title vamp does what it needs to do to survive quite remorselessly. Equally, there are some humans who are pretty monstrous to other humans.

    Don’t worry, there are still plenty of things out there that go bump in the night. After eating you.

  3. scotstig on said:

    An excellent assessment as usual…..

    Monsters are not what they used to be, biblically monsters were simple, Goliath (Giant) and Jonah’s big fish (whale) but the real monsters were always weak humans, Jezebel or Judas Ascariot for example.

    I think modern media blurs what a monster is. My son can quite happily watch the whole Monsters inc movie but will get fearful and upset at an episode Scooby Doo (We would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky kids….). In “Monsters Inc.” the monsters are not bad or evil just misunderstood by the children. We have arrived at this bizarre situation by buying our son a cuddly “Sullie” toy. He can understand a Pixar monster in full blu-ray glory but gets upset by a 40 year old Hanna-Barbera cartoon with a a floating sheet.

    Children have an odd relationship with monsters, they love and fear them in equal measure but I think the lines of what a monster is have been sadly blurred.

    A comical monster to a child is a good conduit for children to understand the world around them and come to terms with bad ideas or people who will do anything to be predatory or evil.

    To an adult a “monster” is something much worse, an entity hellbent on evil. These can be real people such as Hitler, Idi Amin, Col. Gaddafi or a paedophile or murderer or a fictional character like The Emperor from Star Wars or Damian Thorn from The Omen books/movies. But are these people powered by a force of evil or just suffering from a lack of good?

    We strive so hard to “rehabilitate” people in our support systems but as Alfred said to his master in “Batman Begins”

    “Sir, there are just some people who want to see the world burn.”

    Monsters on the other hand can be portrayed as bad but are really good but misunderstood. The Phantom of The Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and even , dare I type it……. Shrek have shown readers/audiences that beauty is more than skin deep. A valuable lesson in our 21st century image obsessed society.

    The main reason for monsters is not for them to win but to create an underdog nemesis who defeats them against all odds. Where would Jaws be without Chief Brody? Goliath without David? The Iron Giant (Man) without Hogarth Hughes? We love an underdog and so we need someone who will risk everything to bring back the status quo (not the group).

    The english language is interesting in that it continually changes and refers backs to its (sometimes biblical) roots when we have a “monster” in our psyche we refer to it as getting rid of a demon. In our modern 21st century sanitised world we look to psychology to understand our demons but perhaps we should also look at the more traditional view and ask from on high for the demons to be cast out while not blaming ourselves or anyone else for their existence.

    • I think Shrek somewhat cops out in the end. They can be together because they are the same. Wouldn’t it have been far more interesting if Shrek had stayed a troll and Fiona a skinny woman?

    • Scotstig – this was a blog post in itself 🙂
      I am all for the underdog – but then that’s probably my Scottishness rearing its head again…

  4. That was great. Beowulf was one of my favorite scary stories. Mr. Manion, my English teacher, was an extremely enthusiastic story teller. Frankenstein’s monster was a very poignant character. I loved your pitchfork.

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