Balynda Eckley

Professor Ramos

English 1 B

25 April 2019

Man to Beast

It has been known for humans to create and make up stories in order to explain the unexplained. By examining the history of werewolves through Jeffrey Jerome Cohan monster thesis from the ancient past to present it is evident that man’s identification with this monster rest in the entanglement between social desire and the self. As Cohan states from thesis one “the monsters body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety and fantasy (ataractic or incendiary), Giving them life and an uncanny independence. The monstrous body is pure culture. A construct and a projection, the monster exists only to be read.” This to me is trying to say that when people create a monster there is a deeper meaning to it. The werewolf especially has a deep meaning of desire.

Legend has it that werewolves originated from The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest known Western prose, where Gilgamesh rejected a potential lover because she had turned her previous lover into a Wolf. The Saga of the Volsungs is another legend that says that a father and his son discovered Wolf pelts. These pelts transformed people into wolves with long nails, hair all over their body and a distinctive face. The wolves would go on killing sprees in the forest. One of the most well-known legend is from the fifteenth century a farmer in Bedburg, by the name of Peter Stubbe, at night he would turn into a wolf-like creature killing men, women and children. According to the legend people would see him shape shift. Peter said that he was able to do this due to an enchanted belt. There was another instance of a little boy by the name of also Peter back in 1725 he was found in a forest wandering naked he couldn’t speak and he ate with his hands he later was adopted by King George. Research later had shown that Peter suffered from Pitt-Hopkins syndrome a condition that causes seizures, lack of speech,  distinct facial features, difficulty breathing and intellectual changes but before this was discovered people thought he was raised by wolves. There are so many different legends the list goes on and on but we can’t beat the fact that these were mainly created due to fear of the unknown. Part of these unknowns is rabies which is a disease that causes foaming at the mouth and erratic behavior or Lycanthropy which is a rare condition that causes people to believe that they can change into an animal another is hypertrichosis which is the excessive growth of hair. ( Werewolf Legends) These stories are just like what Cohan, is talking about in his thesis one, people tend create stories in order to understand the unknown due to fear. This is why they might associate people with lots of hair such as hypertrichosis or in foaming of the mouth of someone who is infected with rabies as a werewolf.

There are werewolf legends that are obviously separate from one another and others that seem to build off the original concept. The full moon had nothing to do with early werewolves and early legends. The idea of the werewolf has been changed through time. But what makes a good werewolf  to me is the major transformation. This transformation needs to be painful as you see the limbs break and the body stretched to its max.

There are many movies based on werewolves and each with their own story such as the 1981 movie An American Werewolf in London, Were two young men are backpacking in London. They are told to be careful at night and to don’t go off the path. When they decide to go off the path they get attacked buy something it seemed to be a werewolf. One of the young men dies while the other was injured but he survived only to find out later that he was a werewolf. While he was in the hospital the nurse who was attending to him seemed to have a fascination with him. She even took him to live with her. When he first became is transformation to a werewolf, thick hair began to grow from all over his body, his fingernails began to get pointy as his hands, feet and torso begin to extend. His face became distorted with a long snout just like wolf. He later goes on to kill six people that same night. This is a transformation that I’m talking about this movie did an exceptional job of showing this. When morning comes he wakes up to find himself in a zoo and he didn’t remember a thing. When it comes to the end the police are in a hurry to get to him. When they find him in an alley way as a werewolf they are just about to shoot him. When the nurse runs up and tries to stop everything she tells him “I love you” for a split second he looks up as if he recognizes her but he began to launch towards her and he gets shot by multiple officers. This to me shows that thesis six from Cohen “Fear of the monster is really a kind of desire.” It truly does represent the way we see monsters from the moment the transformation began all the way up to the lust that the nurse had for him she had a certain desire to be with him even when she knew he was deadly. (Maria de Vries)

There was another movie called Teen Wolf from 1985, Where this young man is in high school and he really likes the popular girl and he wants to date her soon starts to notice differences in his body such as long nails, sensitive hearing and he tends to be itchy everywhere . He finds out that his father is also a werewolf and it runs in the family. As he is part of his basketball team at his high school he was never really noticed until on one of his games he transforms into a werewolf and where you would think everybody would be terrified everybody was actually happy and cheering him on because he was able to help his team win. After his big win he became very popular and got the girl he really wanted. Instead of being this feared monster he became a hero which is in contrast of the movie An American Werewolf in London. I think this relate back to the first theory from Cohen in 1985 it was a more modern time people were not as scared of werewolves so they created a comedy. (Teen Wolf 1985). This transformation happens so fast you didn’t even really get to enjoy it. There was no breaking of the bones or stretching of the extremities. So for me it wasn’t as intense as the movie from An American Werewolf in London. Maybe this is due to this movie being a comedy.  

 There is a show that was based off of the movies An American Werewolf in London and Teen Wolf 1985 which is also called Teen Wolf (2011) but it is a series. This is also about a young teen who goes to the woods with his friend and he is bitten by a werewolf and so he later becomes a werewolf. He is also part of a lacrosse team at his high school and begins to experience changes in his body he gets stronger, faster and he cannot control his anger. Due to these changes he’s able to help his team win. He also longs for a girls attention and ends up with her. (Teen Wolf TV series). This also was a very quick transformation so you really didn’t get to enjoy any of it, but we can see that there is a lot of desire in these movies to get the girl. And the girl has just as much desire to be with the werewolf.  

As we can see through the years there are many changes. And although we know that werewolves is just a fantasy. We still crave to have a piece of it. People used to cry werewolf because they were scared of the unknown now we create comedies to laugh at this subject. Before there was a real fear of the werewolf and now we create the beast as a desire.

Work Citied

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).” This was an article presented to me by my professor it is based on seven thesis statements of monster theory and what creates a monster why is a monster called a monster. How we see monsters as something forbidden. How monsters always come back and  the desire of what the monster has. 

Maria De Vries. “An American WereWolf in London – Playlist.”  YouTube, YouTube. Sep 8, 2017 This was a video on YouTube of this movie. The movie  is about two young men who are backpacking in London when they get attacked by a werewolf one dies the other survives. The one that survived ends up turning into a werewolf and ends up dying.

“Teen Wolf (1985).” Imdb. 23 August 1985. This was an article/ review on the movie that was created in 1985 It gives a breakdown of the movie the actors that were in the movie an where this movie was created and what it was based upon.

“Teen Wolf (TV series).” Fandom. This was a review on the TV series Teen Wolf it talks about all the different series, and the actors of who played in this series.

The Ancient Origins of Werewolves.” The Conversation. October 28, 2018. This is an article on the history of werewolves and where they come from how they came from Rome and Greece and how they were hunted and killed.

“The History of the Werewolf Legend.” Historic Mysteries. This is an article that talks about the myth of werewolves and where they come from.  This article has sources back it up. 

“Werewolf Legends.” August 21, 2018.  This article talks about the history of werewolves an Greek mythology and many legends of werewolves. It talks about the possibilities of why people think that where wolves are real. Why they were created and possible illnesses that are reflected back to werewolves This source from the history channel so it should be pretty reliable.