Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. -- James 4:7
Anything goes wrong in one’s life, from birth to death, can, if properly represented, become a monster, for horror fiction, as we explain in a previous post, is really about suffering and, usually, surviving, loss:
- The death of a baby = horror; what kills the baby = the monster.
- The loss of a limb = horror; what causes the loss of the limb = the monster.
- The loss of an eye or another organ = horror; the cause of the loss of the eye or other organ = the monster.
- Starvation = horror; the cause of starvation--maybe it’s bulimia or anorexia nervosa--or, more specifically, the emotional roots of such a disease = the monster.
- Loss of self-esteem = horror; the cause of the loss of self-esteem (abuse, abandonment, rejection?) = the monster.
A monster can produce offspring, many of which will not look like or act as their parents. The monster that kills a baby may cause a mother or a father--or both--to go insane, perhaps transforming a loving parent into a murderer or a suicide--or both. If the monster was a killer, perhaps the parent or parents will become a monster who takes the law into his, her, or their own hands.
The abusive mother or father, or the parent who abandons or rejects his or her child may produce a serial killer when the abused, abandoned, or rejected child him- or herself becomes an adult and starts to slaughter and destroy. Perhaps, such a child will become an arsonist instead, or a sadist, or a master manipulator whose violence is subtle and psychological and all the more devastating because unexpected and unperceived.
The sins of the father (and mother), the Bible tells us, are visited upon the children, unto the fourth generation. Monsters have parents; they also have progeny.
But monsters can be overcome; they can be defeated; sometimes, they can even be killed. Eventually, they meet their match, and they are neutralized or destroyed.
The destroyer of monsters is the hero within, the self that is bold enough and strong enough to meet the monster on his, her, or its own terms, on its home turf, and, single-handedly or aided by friends, go hand to hand and toe to toe against the beast. Gilgamesh is such a hero. Hercules is such a hero. Beowulf is such a hero. King Arthur is such a hero. Frodo Baggins is such a hero. Luke Skywalker is such a hero. Buffy Summers is such a hero. Fiction is replete with such heroes, as is life itself, for we--you and I--are potential heroes, just as it is you and I, as often as not, who are also the monsters.
The monster is overcome by the hero’s gaining what he or she lacks. The acquisition of this need constitutes his or her transformation, and this transformation indicates his or her victory over the monster.
There is no chance of victory for the murdered baby, but there is for the surviving parents; if they resist the temptation to become monsters themselves, they have, despite the loss of their beloved child, defeated the monster.
If a person lives the fullest life possible, without self-pity, seeking his or her own welfare and happiness and the welfare and happiness of others as well, despite the loss of a limb, this person has overcome the monster that has lain in ambush for him or her and is a hero rather than a victim. The same is true of the man or woman who loses an eye or another organ. Resisting the demons of despair and self-pity, of helplessness and bitterness means defeating them.
Starvation--which can be spiritual or emotional as well as physical--can be defeated if one is able to find the nutrients, whether of the soul or the flesh or both, that he or she lacks or can find the strength of character and will to defeat the monster of bulimia or anorexia nervosa, whatever hell their emotional roots may be planted in.
Learning to love and trust others--and oneself--despite having been abused, abandoned, or rejected means overcoming the monster.
There are many monsters. They are everywhere. There are many heroes, too, though, for the monster’s nemesis, its slayer, resides within.