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.