From the eyes of monsters: Literary transformative monsters as agents of empathy
Overman, Blake A.
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Literary monsters, the embodiments of human fear and anxiety, have existed in narratives for as long as stories have been told. Traditionally the monster is an antagonistic force, but what happens when the audience begins to understand or even identify with monstrous characters—especially when that monster exhibits some level of queerness? By analyzing multiple narratives that feature a monstrous protagonist, I hope to track the evolution of the monster as an empathetic figure. Works such as the medieval poem Bisclavret by Marie de France and the Victorian novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson are narratives that feature monstrous characters that work to establish a level of empathy with non-monstrous readers. My thesis frames this discussion with a specific focus on critical monster theory in tandem with queer theory and narratology—specifically how monsters’ function as aberrations of gender and sexuality allow us to understand the cultural significance of these monsters and how the narration of a text might alter the perception of the reader.
Thesis (M.A.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of English