I’m seriously thinking of renaming this feature Rant of the Week… anyways let’s start off by defining “monster”…
1. a legendary animal combining features of animal and human form or having the forms of various animals in combination, as a centaur, griffin, or sphinx.
2. any creature so ugly or monstrous as to frighten people.
3. any animal or human grotesquely deviating from the normal shape, behavior, or character.
4. a person who excites horror by wickedness, cruelty, etc.
5. any animal or thing huge in size.
As you can see, there are many different definitions for the word monsters. Some are based on appearance. Some are based on personality. In YA both types apply. But in real life we usually only use the word “monster” to describe a rotten person… Monsters in books, after all, are just metaphors and imagery to represent people in real life. When you call someone a monster, you usually mean they have done monstrous and horrendous deeds. But how much of the monsters in YA can be reflected that way in real life?
One of my favorite and most memorable quotes from Teen Wolf (yes I watch it, don’t judge me, it’s a lot better than it sounds) is when Lydia tells Meredith that “Not all monsters do monstrous things”. This is especially true in YA. This can be seen in The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. In the novel, Ruby, the main character develops an ability to mess with people’s minds, especially their memories. She can make them think and do whatever she wants if she tries hard enough. To a lot of people in that dystopia, Ruby’s abilities, ones she did not ask for or originally want, make her a monster. But Ruby only uses her abilities when she needs to, to help her friends, unlike someone else who has the same abilities who uses them for his self gain. And while people are afraid of her because of what she can do, her control over her abilities, her unwillingness to use them when she feels it is unnecessary, makes her human, and not a monster. Ruby’s abilities give her power. And because she does not use her powers in the wrong way, she cannot be rightfully considered a “monster”. In real life it is not much different.
People who abuse their powers (and their positions) are often seen as monsters. Especially when it comes to hurting children in any way. Greed, cruelty, and wickedness are all some qualities human exhibit to lead them to be considered as monsters. And in a lot of ways, people are considered monsters when they are strange and powerful. When other people fear them. Take Buckbeak from Harry Potter for example. As a hippogriff, he can already be “classified” as a “monster” by appearance and genetics alone. However, he really is really considered a monster by the Malfoy’s when he attacks Draco after being insulted and is then, as a result, sentenced to death. But in reality, Buckbeak is a kind, caring, loyal
creature hippogriff that protected Harry whenever he could. He only attacked Draco because he was provoked and hippogriffs by nature don’t take to insults kindly. Does that attack make him a monster when he has so many other positive characteristics? No.
Okay so in this instance it isn’t so much the “monsters” themselves, but what they are and what they do. Supernatural creatures like werewolves but they are not always portrayed that way in books. Instead they are sometimes used as metaphors for growing up. Werewolves can change form and the change the body experiences because of that can be seen as puberty in teens. How their bodies are naturally taking on a different shape. Witches are often considered monsters for their powers. But in reality, that label was first placed on wise women, something considered impossible at that time. I mean, there is no way women can be smart. -__- >.< Please help me. Anyways the point is "wise" and "women" did not go together when the word "witch" was first coined. Are they supposed to be monsters simply because they defy the way of society by being smart?
“Monsters” are not always monsters. Just like how some creatures considered to be monsters don’t do monstrous things. I think our society really misuses this word and it really hurts some people. Just because some people chose not to conform to the norms of society completely and because they don’t look like regular humans doesn’t make them monsters. No, what makes them real monsters is their actions. Their wickedness. Their cruelty. That’s what makes them monsters.
What do you think?
What do you consider to be “monsters”?