Over the past several hundred years, werewolves have been an important part of Western Cultures. Werewolves have appeared in blockbuster movies and have been the subject of countless books and stories. Werewolves are dark and powerful creatures that terrify us on multiple levels. While they are some of the most violent and merciless monsters that horror has to offer, there is something about the werewolf that we can identify with. Not only can we identify with the characters afflicted with the curse, but we can also identify that the werewolf is a beast and an evil force. The werewolf symbolizes the evil that is contained within us all. I will explain the evils that werewolves symbolize by taking a critical look at the real-life history of the werewolf, the werewolf in literature and film, and the opinions of experts on the topic.
Firstly, one must understand what a lycanthrope or werewolf is. In Greek a werewolf is a man who can turn interchangeable with a wolf-man. This is no easy task. What they are and how they come into being change in/of cultures to culture. We are the most familiar with the werewolf, who was a normal human being who, bit by a werewolf, is now tragically infected with the werewolf disease and metamorphoses into a beast every night or full moon. This werewolf is known as the “victimized werewolf” (Otten 165). A good-natured member of society is forced, on a regular basis, to become a sinister beast that eradicates any previous resemblance, in personality and physical appearance, and replaces it with an in discriminant urge to kill, according to The Literary Werewolf: An Anthology by Charlotte F. Otten.
According to Charlotte F, Otten. A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture Lycanthropy originated in France at the end of the fourteenth century. Lycanthropy simply means “wolf man” and is derived from the Greek word” lukanthropia” (Basil 24). The werewolf legend is one of the oldest and the most primal of man’s supernatural (Basil 24). “The belief that sorcerers can transform themselves into animals is probably nearly as universal in “primitive” societies as in the belief in magical healing” (Otten 161). It is also frequently believed that Satan is able to manipulate someone’s imagination in order to make him or her transform into werewolves.
Mexico is one of the countries in the world that have kept their werewolf legends pretty much the same as they were several hundred years ago. Even though the Spaniards started colonizing Mexico in the 1500s, the people in the area still held fast to their werewolf beliefs. That, and the fact that the Spaniards didn’t seem to bring over any werewolf legends of their own mean that the werewolf legends of Mexico today are some of the most authentic and original you can get.
Blood feud, or blood revenge, is an “immemorial custom.” If a member of a tribe was murdered by someone from another tribe, a surviving member of the victim’s family (the blood avenger) was obligated to hunt down and kill the murderer. Once the slayer was killed, the feud was supposed to end. However, it could often lead to war “because every man killed began a new request for revenge.” Also, if the blood avenger could not kill the slayer, “war would be waged by the one tribe against the other.” In ancient Israel, blood feuds that led to war “were the order for the day among the neighboring peoples of the time.” Lycans have better monstrous werewolves compared to Blood Feud.
The concept of a monster can be traced back to old literature, specifically, the Old Testament. In the Book of Samuel, Joab killed Abner “for the blood of Asahel his brother.” Although no one had the right under the law of Moses to seek blood revenge, it was an accepted part of the culture, and cities of refuge were established to protect a slayer who killed a man unintentionally. If two witnesses testified that the slayer was guilty of intentionally killing someone, the elders were to “hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.” When the elders handed a guilty slayer over to an avenger, blood revenge was not an act of murder, but the means of capital punishment. The concept of the monster is an express as describe as revenge. Cohen’s Monster Theory states that the Monster’s body is a cultural body furthers the idea of evil by showing people going on rampage and hurting others because they cause destruction and chaos to civilians or other subjects.
Another medium where the concept of a werewolf is illustrated is in film. For example, in the film The Underworld, the war against the vampires and lycans began when Viktor (Billy Nighy) ordered the death of his daughter Sonja (Jázmin Dammak) who was the bride of the lycan Lucian (Michael Sheen). Sonja’s execution started a war that lasted for six centuries. Instead of Lucian seeking blood revenge against Viktor alone, the entire lycan clan went to war against the vampires. In Underworld, when the vampires and lycans kill each other, it is not considered murder, but an act of war. As a death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) must “hunt [the lycans] down and kill them off one by one.” Kraven (Shane Brolly) says the lycans have been hunted “to the brink of extinction.” The death dealers have a similar mandate as Joshua when he attacked Jericho: “They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old.”
Under modern rules of war, killing unarmed civilians is a war crime, and exterminating an entire tribe is an act of genocide. However, 3,000 years ago, because of the cultural practice of blood revenge, if a tribe was attacked, the surviving sons, once they grew old enough to fight, would be obligated to go to war against the tribe that killed their fathers. Therefore, in certain battles, the Israelites killed everyone. Like the vampires in Underworld, they did so out of self-preservation: to prevent a cycle of bloodshed that could last for generations. In Underworld, the blood feud between the vampires and lycans is like an Old Testament war. Blood revenge is a barbaric form of justice. Without a fair trial and proof of guilt, it could result in an innocent person being killed. Today, we recognize that it is the role of the state to imprison (or execute) a murderer. However, in ancient history to seek blood revenge for a murder was a cultural norm. It is also a cultural norm for the vampires and lycans in Underworld. In the climax of the film, Selene slays Viktor, an act of blood revenge for the murder of her parents. For Selene, killing Victor is not murder; it is justice.
Many experts have studied the field of folklore regarding werewolves and have learned that these werewolves are real in Mexico. For instance, werewolves were first developed in Greek literature. Their story remains existence of many other cultures and they are feared. These creatures are dangerous beings that can easily kill or transform a human. Both Greek and Mexico’s cultures are similar, yet different when it comes to their names for them and how they are perceived in that culture. After inspecting the creature experts said they doubt it is a wolf as its teeth were too short, front paws abnormally small and claws too large. Fear overall is a big factor when dealing with werewolves and/or shape-shifters. In a bigger aspect fear is the amount of evil a regular human has within them and what it takes to unleash that evilness into doing something extremely bad.
This article source Editors, H. (2018). Werewolf Legends. [online] HISTORY. Available at: gf
Brief Timeline of American Literature and Events:1850s, public.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/underworld.rise.html
The source was from Brief Timeline of American Literature and Events:1850s, Werewolves have good abilities they can use to help themselves, such as having unbelievable speed and as much strength as anyone can imagine. There are also several ways a werewolf can transform into ancient Greece, from eating the meat of a wolf to being cursed. The noon however is the most common object that people today relate to werewolves. One important difference between wolves and werewolves is that werewolves turned into humans, apart from that they both did mostly the same activities. As of today, werewolves are mythological stories by many. The term lycanthropy is now seen as a medical condition that causes mentally ill individuals to think they are an animal. Overall there has been tons of stories on werewolves over the years but none of them seems to be credible. this source is reliable because it is primary source talks about monster theory.
This article source Editors, H. (2018). Werewolf Legends. [online] HISTORY. Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/history-of-the-werewolf-legend [Accessed 2 Nov. 2018]. The author talks about how werewolves have ancient origins in Europe. He also says the oldest records of werewolves come from Greek and Roman writers. It was believed in order to kill a werewolf the heart and brain had to be destroyed. Some tribes were able to turn into werewolves for a specific period of time within that year, while others say during a full moon the transformation between man to wolf happens. Myths of werewolves were prevalent throughout the world; they were not considered evil in many of those cultures. The Greek region of Arcadia was known for where the wolves were located, and lycanthropy is a word that describes a mental ill individual that believes he/she is an animal.
This is reliable because it is facts, it has good story
Ginzburg, Carlo. “Conjunctive Anomalies: A Reflection on Werewolves.” Revista de Estudios Sociales, no. 60, Apr. 2017, pp. 110–118. EBSCOhost, doi:10.7440/res60.2017.09.
This article discusses the fear of werewolves throughout history, beginning in the 5th century B.C. The author comments on the historical and anthropological foundations for myths about werewolves and describes the process of the transmission of beliefs and myths from generation to generation, also referred to as cultural transmission. This source is reliable because it has good background information and details.
Werewolves in Mexico.” Werewolves, 29 Mar. 2010, http://www.werewolves.com/werewolves-in-mexico This article source talks about Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that have kept their werewolf legends pretty much exactly the same as they were several hundred years ago. Even though the Spaniards started colonizing Mexico in the 1500s, the people in the area still held fast to their werewolf beliefs. This source is reliable because it talks about Mexico and follows along with the story.
“The Horror of Werewolves.” Scholastic Scope, vol. 60, no. 4, Oct. 2011, pp. 17–19. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=70081162&site=ehost-live.
The author discusses the encounters people had with werewolves and in this book talks about the gruesome details of what werewolves do to people and other creatures. He also states people are not born werewolves they use an ointment to become a werewolf. No one knows for sure how it feels to be transition into a werewolf, but it is said to be a very painful experience. The parts of the body that change when the human is transitioning into a werewolf is also described. The hands turn into claws, hair grows rapidly all over the body, and a wound on the body can translate into the human body. This source reliable because it is a part of primary source and monster thesis.
Otten, Charolotte The Literary Werewolf: Syracuse An Anthology. Syracuse. Syracuse university Press. 2002
Basil, Copper. The Werewolf: In Legend, Fact & Art. New York: St. Martin’s
Press, Inc., 1977.