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Monsters are usually unsympathetic and senseless, preying on humans without provocation or reason. They are completely Other to humanity. Monsters represent forces of nature or divine wrath-things to which humans are powerless to appeal. Defeating monsters is characteristic of heroes, those who surpass normal human limitations. In the traditional monstrous text, monsters are obstacles for the hero.

In contemporary texts, the tables are turned. Sympathetic yet still Other-ed monsters may represent repressed human desires or marginalized people oppressed by the culture of the "hero." The key difference is that these monsters use language. They tell their side of the story and gain our sympathy. As this happens, we realize that they are not incarnations of evil but necessary extensions of ourselves.

Analysis of monster theory and three particular monsters-the Minotaur, Grendel, and Caliban-in their original and updated incarnations provides insight into the development of the inhuman voice.


Lamar University