Student Research Paper
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What is a monster? For contemporary readers, monsters conjure images of things from horror films. My capstone addresses the question of whether monsters, the monstrous, and monstrosity are inside the human or elsewhere. I argue that monsters, when compared side-by-side in literature, are fundamentally the same with some exceptions: evil behind a human body. Through close-reading and theoretical analyses of 19th-century texts, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Stephen Crane’s The Monster, I examine how their authors create monsters as a response to societal anxieties and fears. My capstone expands on passages where human characters surrender to their internal monsters to prove an authorial need to mirror a monstrous society. By exploring themes of obsession and knowledge, I claim that textual monsters are mere manifestations of who we are in reality. I have divided my capstone into chapters that take turns surveying what it takes to become a monster. I conclude with a brief, but broader discussion of contemporary monsters to bridge 19th-century literature to its modern-day counterpart. In the end, I ultimately posit that we are no less monstrous than monsters on the page.
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Seyer, Jenna M., "At the Edge of Monstrosity: Melville, Shelley, and Crane’s Monsters in 19th-Century Literature" (2018). Student Publications. 702.
Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America Commons, Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority Commons, Other English Language and Literature Commons