Monsters and Monstrosities in Literature
Projects
     
  Monsters as Metaphors of Evil in 19th-Century English Literature
Julio Jeha · head


Abstract

In 19th-century English literature, many of the adversities that the characters experience originate from the perception that evil is innate. This idea agrees with both the biblical tradition and the then recent theory of the origin of species. If in the Bible, the human condition results from a moral flaw, in Darwin's theory it exists in nature, controlled only by social institutions. Likewise, Hobbes considered the natural state violent and immersed in fear. For him, the natural condition of humankind is one of war of all against all. Literary illustrations of this aggressive trait can be found in Frankenstein and Dracula, in The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, among others. By pitting a protagonist (or a group of them) against a monster (which may be a part of oneself), these books dramatize the attempt to restrain the human belligerent nature that threatens to undermine the individual and society.


Students

Rodrigo S. Guedes · MA · 2007
Secular Readings of Good and Evil in Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Izabela Viana de Araújo · MA · 2008
Monsters and Monstrosities in Nineteenth-Century European Literature: An Analysis of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Émile Zola's Germinal, and Camilo Castelo Branco's Amor de Perdição
Main supervisor: Adam Piette (U. Sheffield), Support supervisor: Hélder Godinho (U. Nova de Lisboa)
*A former member of the group, Izabela got an Eramus Mundus Master "Crossways in European Humanities" grant. During her course abroad, we had continued discussions over the Internet.

Estevão C. Batista · Undergraduate researcher · 2007–08

Paulo A. M. Wagatsuma · Undergraduate researcher · 2007–08, 2008–09 (CNPq grant)


Bibliography

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BOTTING, Fred (Ed.). Frankenstein: Mary Shelley. New York: St. Martin’s, 1995.

CARROLL, Noël. Ethnicity, race, and monstrosity: the rhetorics of horror and humor. Beauty matters. Ed. Peg Zeglin Brand. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. p. 37-56.

COHEN, Jeffrey Jerome (Ed.). Monster theory: reading culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

FADINI, Ubaldo; NEGRI, Antonio; WOLFE, Charles T. (Eds.). Desiderio del mostro: dal circo al laboratorio alla politica. Roma: Manifestolibri, 2001.

GOETSCH, Paul. Monsters in English literature: from the romantic age to the First World War. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2002. (Neue Studien zur Anglistik und Amerikanistik 83.)

HOBBES, Thomas. Leviathan. New York: Norton, 1996.

KEARNEY, Richard. Strangers, gods, and monsters: interpreting otherness. New York: Routledge, 2003.

NEIMAN, Susan. Evil in modern thought: an alternative history of philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.

OPPENHEIMER, Paul. Evil and the demonic: a new theory of monstrous behavior. New York: New York University Press, 1996.

WATSON, Lyall. Dark nature: a natural history of evil. New York: HarperCollins, 1996.

 

Updated September 9, 2012


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