Syeda Zahra

Professor Ramos

English 1B

14 December 2018

Immorality causes Monstrosity?

Everyone has different thoughts on what is right or wrong. Yet, at our core, we all share common values that tells us when something is immoral. For the people who are not able to tell the difference, they are perverse. That perversion makes them monster. They do not feel that their actions are immoral, while there are many make believe stories about monsters who are evil. The real life monsters are the serial killers of this world. They are immoral and beyond redemption. Such person is Mary Beth Tinning; her actions reflected her inner psyche, which was depicted by her confession to the court. She was sentenced to 20 years to life and told the court, “I will never stop fighting to prove my innocence, and one day the whole world will know that I am innocent.” She told police that on the night of Tami Lynne’s death, she was sleeping on the living room couch. “I was about to doze off when Tami woke up and started to cry,” Marybeth said. “I got up and went to her crib and tried to do something with her to get her to stop crying. I finally used the pillow from my bed and put it over her head. I held it until she stopped crying.” Then she took the pillow, she said, and put it on the couch to convince Joe she had been sleeping. “I screamed for Joe and he woke up,” she said, “I told Joe Tami wasn’t breathing…I did do CPR, stupid as it sounds, but I knew that she wasn’t alive anymore.” When she was asked why she killed Tami, Marybeth responded, “Because she was always crying and I couldn’t do anything right” (Tinning). Her statements support the claim that she was going through some mental illness that led to the atrocious crimes she committed. Further, down at her appearance in court she contradicted her own statement, which shows she was psychotic. “They were telling me what to say,” She told the court, “A lot of time the police made a statement and then I just repeated it. These gentlemen were telling a story and I just repeated it” (Dec. 12, 1986, Knickerbocker News). She said “I was just tired,” Marybeth offered, “I didn’t want to go on. I knew what they were doing was wrong, but it would appear they had me in their clutches” (ibid). “They said that if I did not tell the truth,” she told the court, “they would take my kids out of their graves and rip them limb from limb!”

Marybeth Roe Tinning is an American serial killer. Who was arrested and convicted for the murder of her ninth child, 4-month-old daughter Tami Lynne in 1987. Mary Beth was similarly involved in the previous deaths of her eight children and later on, she confessed, “I did not do anything to Jennifer, Joseph, Barbara, Michael, Mary Frances, Jonathan,”, “and Just these three, Timothy, Nathan and Tami. I smothered them each with a pillow because I am not a good mother. I’m not a good mother because of the other children.” This confession depicts her desire to kill her kids, which is described in the sixth thesis “Fear of the Monster is Really a Kind of Desire”, where Cohen presents monster has an attractive force that tempts people into forbidden practices and taboo. They are both terrifying and evocative of fantasies. This accounts for the monster’s continued cultural popularity. We envy the monster’s freedom, which allows us to safely express our fantasies of aggression, domination, and inversion. The monster enables formation of all kinds of identities through safe expression.

Further, on if, we dwell into the causes, which led Marybeth to commit such atrocious crimes, we figured out that she killed her children for attention and how her psychotic behavior made her normalize this crime and how she moved on easily. Brynn Lovitt describes such behavior in the article “Beyond Gypsy Blancharde: When Mothers Harm Their Kids for Attention”. He is going through multiple cases in which mother has killed their kids. People who attended Jennifer, Marybeth’s third child’s funeral remembered that it seemed more like a social event than a funeral. Any remorse Marybeth was experiencing seemed to dissolve, as she became the central focus of her sympathizing friends and family. And, family members noticed how Marybeth would get upset if she felt she wasn’t receiving enough attention at the children’s funerals and other family events. Again, people commented on Marybeth’s behavior after Tami Lynne’s funeral. She had a brunch at her house for friends and family. Her neighbor noticed that her usual dark demeanor was gone and she seemed sociable as she engaged in the usual chatter that goes on during a get-together. Some experts hypothesized, this drab housewife became addicted to being the star of the show, the bereaved mother at the funeral of her child. Mourners at these somber events would recall that Tinning seemed detached, sometimes even happy, as she bid farewell to all her children, wrote Joyce Egginton in her book on the case, “From Cradle to Grave.”

The second thesis, “The Monster Always Escapes” says that while the damage caused by the monster remains, the monster itself vanishes only to reappear somewhere else in another place or time. No matter how many times we kill the monster, it reappears to haunt us, to draw attention to itself, to make us examine it within the contemporary social, cultural, and literary historical context. Cohen illustrates the idea by describing the myth of the vampire that reoccurs in history but transforming each time by reflecting the specific contemporary issue of the time it in which it reappears. In this sense, the monster is transcultural and transtemporal, whose appearance and interpretation are bound in a double act of construction and reconstitution. Marybeth did the similar thing, after being a murderer so many times, she just got used to it, and everytime she came as a new monster. She also confessed, “After the deaths of my other children … I just lost it,” Tinning told the board Jan. 26. “(I) became a damaged worthless piece of person and when my daughter was young, in my state of mind at that time, I just believed that she was going to die also. So I just did it.” Her confession shows her comfortability being a monster, that makes a monster never escape and keep coming back in a similar or worse form. The first thesis also relates to her murders as it says that “the monster’s body is a cultural body” that is born at metaphoric crossroads of a cultural moment. It embodies uncertainty, and appears at a point of indecision that can lead to many other places. Cohen says that the “monster inhabits the gap between the time of upheaval that created it and the moment which  it is to received to be born again” the latter probably meaning when it is to be reinterpreted in a new historical, social, and cultural context. The monster’s body incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy, which give them life and independence. Her anxiety of not being a good mother and other kids dying made her desire to kill her daughter so she can be free.

Annotated Bibliography

Case, Anne, 1958-. From Cradle to Grave? : the Lasting Impact of Childhood Health and Circumstance. Cambridge, Mass. :National Bureau of Economic Research, 2003. Print.

This is a book written on Marybeth Tinning’s Crime. I am using this to support my claims about what caused her to commit such atrocious crimes. It’s a book with a lot of scholarly sources and evidences, which gives it credibility.

Cohen, Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Project MUSE,

This is a scholarly article, which automatically gives it credibility. In this article they are describing the seven monster theories, that how monsters are formed. I will use this as one of my primary source, by linking the seven thesis to my topic, that how monsters evolved in every era, as well as all the other theories which link to my topic.

Gado, Mark. “Marybeth — Marybeth Tinning killed her nine babies – the Crime Library — Crime Library”. Web.archive.org. p. 2. Archived from the original on October 10, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2018.

This is also an article written on Marybeth’s case. I am using this to support my claims about the statements she made about the murders. This is a credible source since it is a published article.