Monster Legend Jeffery Jerome Cohen writes in his essay Monster Culture (Seven Theses) that cultures can be understood by the monsters they have. Through seven theses, he argues for the importance of monsters and reaches a conclusion that monsters can define a culture. These creatures of the Imagination are born from fears of the unknown and desires of the forbidden. They are the vampires and zombies, ghosts and goblins, dragons and demons that Invade fantasy and fiction, dominating novels, films, and video games. They have grown to be an Integral part of the media and common consciousness.
Everyone has heard of and seen monsters In the media. Cone’s first thesis, “The Monster’s Body Is a Cultural Body,” argues that monsters are born out of a particular “time, a feeling, and a place” and exists as “pure culture” (Cohen). The monsters, being a product of Its time, represent the views of the people of those times but they can also challenge the public view. So, they serve to reinterpret parts of the culture. People learn to see themselves differently through a monster’s eye. The monsters and what the views they represent linger in the mind of their creators and audience; the monsters become legend.
The novel I am Legend, by Richard Matheson, was published in 1954 during the Cold War when people viewed the world as a duality of pure good and pure evil. It was the perfect cradle for monsters. The view of the Soviet Union with its communism as evil and the united States with its democracy as good easily grew into a tension represented by monsters and the heroes that opposed them. In I am Legend, a worldwide disease turns everyone into a vampire-like monster except for the immune Robert Manville, who becomes a killer.
Justified by a kill-or-be-killed drive, Manville bunkers in a fortified souse at night and hunts the vampires in the morning. He responds to the question of why he kills: “Only to-to survive. ” (Matheson) There is the image of a cowboy-like champion conquering a wild world, refusing to surrender to a greater force. This image, created by culture, is that of hero. People wanted to identify with heroes like Manville and oppose villains like the vampires or the Soviet Union. As Cohen argues, monsters can illuminate the secrets of its time.
Besides displaying the desire to hate monsters, the novel also reflects its time of a scientific age, after the achievements of Einstein including the atom bomb and during a technological race against the Soviets. People wished for examination of the old and rational explanations of the strange. So, the vampires are explained scientifically. The vampires are sensitive to light because direct sunlight can kill the bacteria that have taken over the monstrous body. In the novel Manville thinks. “Bacteria could be the answer to the vampire. ” (Matheson) They cannot stand garlic because Its smell chemically weakens the beast.
And Charlatans vampires fear the cross for It Invokes feeling of guilt and sin In what’s left of the monster’s mind. With Its scientific explanations and new Ideas, the novel Is called the first modern vampire novel. It popularized Ideas of apocalypses, monsters caused by diseases, and lone survivors. Its ideas are alive today, after many other adapted or inspired stories and films, with Its 200/ Orientale as a movie AT teen same name. As seen In teen Resident Evil serves, the worldwide plague that turns people into monsters is now commonplace in media.
Like Matheson who is described as “a guy that everybody knows without knowing it” (Hunter) because of all the media he inspired, his novel I am Legend is also a story hat everyone is familiar with without knowing it. This familiar idea of human-like monsters remains strong because there is an instinct to believe in them. “The monster always escapes,” as Cohen calls his second thesis. Monsters vanish when they are about to be dissected, changing to suit the culture of the creators; each reincarnation of a monster, vampires specifically, is different- modified by the time of reception.
In the novel, the monsters always escape destruction because they never lessen. No matter how many Manville kills, the vampires still amass in great numbers o assault his home the next night. They can never defeated and no matter how hard Manville tries, he cannot find a vaccine for the disease. The monsters remain elusive just like the Soviets. Being a war without confrontation, all people can do is continue to hate the Soviets but they cannot be defeated by hatred. The monsters escape because of where they exist as Cohen writes in his third thesis, “The Monster Is the Harbinger of Category Crisis. Monsters are monstrous because they are undefined, different, unaccepted. They live on the boundaries, between categories, “suspended between forms. Their “very existence is a rebuke” (Cohen) – destroying the system by refusing to assimilate to it. They offer an escape for people, a way out of the established system. The vampires in the novel exist in a place between the human and the dead. They challenge the concept of life and death. Is Manville the only one alive or can the vampires be thought of as alive? Is it right for Manville to kill them, just to save himself?
Matheson writes in I am Legend, “Morality, after all, had fallen with society. He was his own ethic. ” Without human society, Manville lost a strict sense of morality. This becomes an escape for Manville; he is in a world where he can do whatever he wants. No one is there to Judge. Likewise, portraying the Soviets as monsters is also possible because they are different. Their communism is outside the established democratic system of the United States. This is an escape for anyone who opposes the United States government. They can do so, with the support of these Returning to the idea of the monster’s conception, Cohen argues in “monsters. His fourth thesis, “The Monster Dwells at the Gates of Difference,” that the monster is “difference made flesh. Monsters are born out of a difference, providing a way to villainies the opposing side and transforming this “other” group to something Anyone willing to continue living in Invisible world would be desensitizing sinister. to the killings and see the pseudo-humans no longer as neighbors, friends, and family but as monsters. In describing an encounter with his wife, Manville says, “She wasn’t the same anymore-you see… My own wife… Owing back to drink my blood! I had to do the same thing to her I’d done to the others. ” (Matheson) He was able to kill his own wife because she became a monster; she became one of the others. Manville sees the vampires as “those filthy things” (Matheson) and transforms them into something inhuman so that his own actions against them are not inhumane. This clearly occurred during the Cold War as the Soviets were made into monsters. With the Soviets as monsters, the people are controlled to not believe in Soviet ideals because those are the ideals of monsters.
Monsters exist to control and regulate as argued Day teen Tint tenses, “l en Monster Polices teen Borders AT teen Possible. ” By exemplifying what is bad and monstrous, what is good and civilized becomes defined. There are therefore two important aspects to every monster, its story of birth and also its cultural purpose. Culturally, monsters are the opposing side. Their purpose is to make the other side seem evil. The idea of human-like monsters is fresh, created and spread by the media. These monsters have swarmed heroic soldiers like Manville during the World Wars.
They are communal, not individual, so that no one cares about their feelings or the feelings of their families. They are vampires who are aggressive, uncivilized, and sensitive to the light of the right. Defining the vampires as “bad,” Manville becomes good. It no longer matters what Manville does because he is not a vampire. He kills and hurts the vampires but he is good. There is a “five-day accumulation of garbage in the sink” (Matheson) and his place reeks of garlic; broken glass lie on the floor and the windows are boarded up. But he is civilized.
He is a hero. While there is this desire to oppose the monsters, there is also a desire to be like them. The sixth thesis, “Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire,” argues that the fear of a monster is really a desire. A monster is elusive and powerful, “beyond the limits of the Thinkable. (Cohen) It is the fantasy of the culture, the desire to be free and strong. The monsters do what they do because they want to. There is a desire in humans to expand our borders and be superior, blame misfortunes on others and satisfy urges without restraint.
The vampires in I am Legend are physically superior to Robert Manville. They are the predators, the victors, the free ones who hunt in the comfort of dark. Manville is the prey, the hunted, and the trapped one living a life of hell. Manville also feels the “mindless craving of his flesh” (Matheson) when he thinks about women. “It was the woman who made it so official, he thought, the women posing… On the possibility that he’d see them and decide to come out. ” (Matheson) Manville is prone to his urges and desires for those vampire-women. He wants to satisfy his urges like the monsters.
He wants to be like a The last thesis, “The Monster Stands at the Threshold… Of Becoming,” monster. Beckons the necessity of monsters. They possess human knowledge. In using them to perceive the world, they question “how we perceive the world” and “why we have created them. ” (Cohen) In doing so, they, being the creations, recursively define the creators. They also ask, who is the real monster? When societies fear the unknown and discriminate against the feared, create others into monsters to rationalize their own actions – do the societies become monsters to their own “monsters”?
Late in the novel, Manville learns that there are two kinds of vampires. One kind is the reanimated dead who were originally consumed by the disease. There are also a second group who caught the disease through the original vampires and retained much of their original self. They manufactured drugs that curb the urges and even formed their own society in trying to rebuild the new world. On the female, Ruth, who Manville encounters and who escapes from him, he sees a womanlike and “strange mixture of sympathy and detachment. (Matheson) Manville wonders about the pure joy that he saw in the faces of those who finally captured him and brought him to a prison in the new society but is told by Ruth that he had the same look of pure Joy when he hunted. They, the half-humans are the ones who are alive now. And they “can’t allow the dead to exist beside the living. ” (Matheson) They are the living. Manville Ana teen toner mindless vampires are teen AAA. Manville realizes tans, Tanat en Is teen monster in the newly formed society of half-humans. He is a character, born out this time, feeling, and place of vampires.
He has been the one escaping capture, existing alone and different from the true vampires and the half-humans. He is the one who has done the killing and the scaring. Ruth says, “They’re terrified of you, Robert, they hate you. And they want your life. ” And Manville “understood what they felt and did not hate them. ” (Matheson) “Robert Manville looked out over the new people of the earth. He knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And abruptly, the concept came, amusing him even in his pain….
Full circle, he thought while the final lethargy crept into his limbs. Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am Legend” (Matheson) Full circle. A familiar monster-survivor tale has changed into a testament against the common stance, against the black and white view of the world. Instead of another hate novel against Communism or the Soviets, this novel presents challenging questions: Are those vampires” on the other side of the ocean really different?
What makes them “monsters” and the United States the heroes? Trying to survive the onslaught of anti- other ideals, the novel bunkers in a traditional plot in the beginning and fights against this foolish hatred near the end. Robert Manville has become the monster of this new culture in the novel and in the world of the novel’s conception. Matheson uses this to reveal to his audience that they may be the monsters. The audience sees Manville become the vampire. And Manville, with the ideas of the novel, fades into legend.