Monthly Archives: November 2010

Attributes of a Monster

Humanity is by its very nature story tellers.  And throughout its history, humanity has developed stories and legends meant to help explain the events and situations that they saw occurring in the world around them.  Through this story telling, humanity has developed monsters and other such creatures to explain the evils that they saw occurring around them.  From acts of nature to humanities inhumanity to itself, monsters helped to explain why such things occur.  What monsters embody is the fear of the unknown, things of the dark, and the worst parts of human nature.  And regardless of what form they take, monsters are a cross-cultural phenomenon found in every society on Earth and will span the breath of time.  Even though the details will vary from culture to culture, the over arching principle still remains; that monsters exist.

Because of this shared cultural experience, the average person will have a general idea of what a monster is.  However, when it comes to the specifics, the average person won’t be able to identify exactly what a monster is.  This is because they haven’t spent the time to delve deeper into the matter and analyze exactly what a monster is or what traits or attributes that are found in every one of them.  And to be honest, why should they?  The average person doesn’t need to understand the physiological effects of snake venom to understand that a snake bite is dangerous.  The same principle applies to monsters.  All that they know is that they can identify a monster when they see one.  But as someone who is interested in the subject, I have spent some time analyzing the matter and gave it some thought.  Through this analysis, I developed a list of three common, overarching attributes found in every monster.  These attributes are 1) superior strength, 2) superior resistance to attack, and 3) evil intent and resolve.

Superior strength is the attribute that allows a monster to overpower its opponent so that it can achieve its goal.  What this means is that the average human being cannot match the monster in physical competition.  Even though this attribute can take many forms, it typically manifests itself through physical strength that is above and beyond that of the average human being.  This means that the average human being must rely upon a hero to protect them or upon their wits in order to outsmart the monster in question.  Otherwise, the subject of the monster’s terror will continue to remain in a state of fear.

Superior resistance to attack is the attribute that makes it very hard for someone to injure or hurt the monster when a move is made against it.  When an attack is made against the monster, it is either easily deflected, is absorbed by the monster, doing little to no damage to it, or the person in question is so badly frightened that the person is unable to attack the monster in the first place.  This in turn allows the monster to continue upon its course and do as it pleases.  From there, the subject of the monster’s terror remains in a continued state of peril.  The only way for the monster to be hurt is if excessive amounts of damage is done to it or is somehow outsmarted during battle.  Until then, it will not be stopped.

Evil intent and resolve is the attribute that represents the purpose and motivation of the monster.  It actively wants to do harm and install fear in others for no other purpose than doing harm and installing fear in others.  The actions that the monster takes, as well as its very presence, threatens the safety and harmony of whatever is subject to its terror.  The whole idea that surrounds the very concept of evil is a value judgment and will vary from culture to culture, even from person to person.  But since a story is told for a given culture, it will fit perfectly for what that culture determines as evil.  But regardless of what values a particular culture holds, evil is the violation of those values, regardless of if that violation is intentional or not.  With the very nature of monsters, they have an innate understanding of these cultural values and judgments and will do what it can to intentionally violate them.  What this means is that the monsters values are in direct opposition to that of societies.  Because of this, it threatens the very fabric of the culture, making the monster something that needs to be stopped.  Otherwise, if it goes unchecked, the monster will eventually destroy society itself.

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Posted by on November 9, 2010 in Uncategorized


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