Bugs Bunny was right. Monsters are interesting people (Remember that cartoon?). As a high school British literature teacher, I’ve become well acquainted with many interesting monsters – fangs, claws, and all. Here’s my top five.
5. Smaug (the dragon from The Hobbit)
“His rage passes description – the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Or, There And Back Again
Smaug, greedy, arrogant, murderous, is a favorite simply because I enjoy the conversation Bilbo, the novel’s title character, has with the big lizard. Simply stated, Bilbo plays him, makes him look like a fool. Guess I like an underdog.
4. Grendel (from the epic poem Beowulf)
“Suddenly then the God-cursed brute was creating havoc: greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men from their resting places and rushed to his lair, flushed up and inflamed from the raid, blundering back with the butchered corpses.”
— from Beowulf
I feel sorry or this ugly bloke. Cursed for a sin committed by his great, great, great, etc. grandfather Cain (of Cain and Abel), Grendel is just a lonely fella’ who wants his piece of the pie. Sadly, he ends up eating men instead of pie, but nobody’s perfect.
3. Macbeth’s Three Weird Sisters
“Double, double toil and trouble; / Fire burn, and cauldron bubble”
Old Bill borrowed heavily from mythology when he created this fine trio. Ever hear of the three Fates, three mythological women that controlled the fates and destinies of countless souls? Perhaps they’re controlling us now (imagine sinister laugh here). Macbeth’s witches formed the foundation of all witches since. All those hags you watched on Scooby-Doo, the green-skinned beauty from the Wizard of Oz…yup, they all owe a nod to Shakespeare and the ladies pictured above. A witch without a cauldron? Sacrilege. Besides, the way these sisters toy with Macbeth…masterful.
2. The Green Knight (from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
There bursts in at the hall door a terrible figure,
In his stature the very tallest on earth.
From the waist to the neck so thick-set and square,
And his loins and his limbs so massive and long,
In truth half a giant I believe he was,
But anyway of all men I judge him to be the largest,
And the most attractive of his size who could sit on a horse.
For while in back and chest his body was forbidding,
Both his belly and waist were becomingly trim,
And every part of his body equally elegant
His hue astounded them,
Set in his looks so keen;
For boldly he rode in,
Completely emerald green.
-from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
How can you not like a guy who makes an appearance that!?!?! All that and he gets his head cut off…and walk away with his head tucked under his arm! Besides, he turns out to be an okay dude. He never really wanted to scare anyone, just teach a lesson in humility.
1. Frankenstein’s Monster
“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.”
– Mary Shelley
- Gawain’s Words (Lack Sincerity?) (mybritlit.wordpress.com)
- Dragon Myths And Legends (costumesupercenter.com)
- The Knight’s Tale (mattjack94.wordpress.com)
- A bit about J.R.R Tolkien – Costume SuperCenter (costumesupercenter.com)