The word monster is derived from the Latin language; in particular, one can speak about the root monare which can be translated as to reveal or to show. Overall, one can argue that monstrosity is one of the things that attract the attention of many writers who often describe people’s reaction to something that they consider to be ugly or inconceivable.
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Furthermore, they often contrast the feelings of an individual and the reaction of others. This paper is aimed at discussing several short stories by different authors, namely The Monster written by Toby Litt, Lusus Naturae by Margaret Atwood and A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
It is important to discuss what kind of things the main characters show that other characters and to the readers. These are the main questions that should be analyzed in greater detail. Overall, it is possible to argue that the each of the protagonists has a very complex inner world, but it is revealed only to the readers, but to other people. This contrast is emphasized by different writers.
At first, one can look at the Toby Litt’s story The Monster in which the author describes the experiences of a creature that has no memory of the past events. However, due to some reasons this character suspects that it is a monster. It should be noted that the writer continuously uses the pronoun “it” when speaking about the protagonist.
This is one of the details that immediately attract attention of the readers. The opening sentence of the short story eloquently illustrates the experiences of this creature; in particular, Toby Litt writes “The monster didn’t know what it was – what kind of monsters or even now and again, whether a monster at all” (Litt 241).
It should be noted that Toby Litt speaks about a creature that cannot see its own reflection. Yet, the author reveals some details about the protagonist. For example, this monster learns that it can be gentle and that it does not want to harm anything (Litt 241). More importantly, this creature is able to assess its behavior from an ethical standpoint. This is the main aspect of its behavior.
Overall, this short story describes the self-discovery of a living and thinking being. However, the readers do not know why this character is so convinced of its monstrosity. In fact, the experiences of the main creature suggest that it can hardly be called a monster. This is one of the main issues that should be taken into consideration.
One can also discuss the short story called Lusus Naturae written by Margaret Atwood. The author tells the story of a girl whose inner world is entrapped into the body of a monster. She is perceived as a “curse” by her own mother (Atwood 225). The author does not actually give many details about the physical appearance of the character; nevertheless, one can see she is rejected by others, even her parents.
It should be taken into consideration the title of this work Lusus Naturae can be translated as a whim of nature or even a “freak of nature” (Atwood 226). To some extent, she resembles the character portrayed by Toby Litt because she also does not know what she looks like and why she is rejected. The readers learn that this girl loves poetry and that she is fascinated with the books of Byron, Keats and Pushkin (Atwood 227).
This example suggests that this person can have extremely complex feelings and that her inner world is much richer that her relatives expect. However, these people detest her and the only person, who comes into her room, is the mother. However, she wants to get rid of her, and this attitude of parents is very appalling. In fact, people can even call this girl “a thing“ when they see her (Atwood 228).
Thus, it is possible to argue that the monstrosity of this character only hides her feelings from others, but not from readers who can look at the same person from different perspectives. Margaret Atwood succeeds in showing this contrast between the experiences of the protagonists and the reaction of other people who do not want to learn more about the so-called monsters.
There is another story that should be discussed, namely A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings by Gabriel García Márquez. The idea of monstrosity also plays a very important role for this writer who describes the responses of different individuals to something unfamiliar or inconceivable. In particular, the author writes about people who happen to discover a homeless old man with wings.
He appears to be senile to the residents of a village, in part because he speaks a language that they cannot understand. In their opinion, “he was a lonely castaway from some foreign ship” (Márquez 357). Apart from that, he is exhibited as an attraction by people, but they do not understand that this person can actually represent a higher power. The villagers do not even understand what kind of creature they encountered.
This response is typical of many people who encounter something or someone that they can hardly comprehend. As a rule, they just want to forget about these incidents as soon as possible. For example, even when the angel flies away, the villagers do not want to think about the importance of this event. This is how Márquez describes the experiences of a woman who sees his flight; in particular, the author writes, “he was no longer an annoyance in her life, but an imaginary dot on the horizon of the sea” (Márquez 361).
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One can mention that the main character of Margaret Atwood’s story is also viewed only as a burden by her family. Therefore, people described by Márquez are not willing to receive any revelation. To some extent, this angel is also perceived as a monster by others.
It is possible to say there is a detail that can be observed in each of these short stories. The main characters are regarded only as freaks of nature or monsters. Yet, people, who surround them, pay attention only to their physical appearance, but the individuality of these creatures remains concealed from others. This is one of the main issues that one can identify. Moreover, different writers emphasize the contrast between the feelings of the protagonists and the response that they evoke.
Overall, this literary works show that monstrosity appeals to many writers. Nevertheless, they usually pay more attention to the inner world of the so-called monsters. They attempt to reveal their feelings or emotions to the readers, but they are not revealed to other characters of these short stories. To a great extent, these novellas urge readers to remember about the complexity of other people’s behavior and opinions.
Atwood, Margaret. “Lusus Naturae.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Kelly Mays. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. 224-228. Print.
Litt, Toby. “The Monster.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Kelly Mays. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. 241-243. Print.
Márquez, Gabriel. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: A Tale for Children.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Kelly Mays. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. 356-361. Print.