The Horror of the Werewolf
The Horror of the Werewolf
The ferocity of the wild wolf has long beenthreatening to humans, for in many ways wolves are a direct threat[or challenge] to man’s [puffed up notion of his own] dominance. Not only do wolves prey upon animals that are raised by humans[for themselves], such as sheep or cows, but more so, wolves actout in ways that are a threat to the human social structure; theyact without conscience. [Rubbish: they threaten humans’ self-imagebecause they too form a social structure, but a more efficientone.] These animals will act in ways that are pleasing to themselves,which is viewed by people as sinful or evil. [They operate wellin packs, and humans can’t.]
The distinctive features of the wolf are unbridledcruelty, bestial ferocity, and ravening hunger. His strength,his cunning, his speed were regarded as abnormal, almost eeriequalities, he had something of the demon, of hell. He is themysterious harbinger of Death. (Summers 65)
[Summers, of course, is a moron.] The reputationof wolves is notorious, even in the Bible: “Behold I sendyou as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16). Throughouta wide variety of cultures wolves are an enemy and viewed as evil[always cultures where wolves share our own lust for other animalswe feel we own all rights to].
Werewolves, or wolf-men, have been fabled anddreaded monsters in numerous cultures throughout the world forcenturies [the same ones as above, in which wolves themselvesare already demonized]. In many examples of werewolf literature,werewolves are created by a severe sickness.
You many recognize [werewolves] by these marks: they are pale, their vision feeble, their eyes dry, tongue verydry, and the flow of saliva stopped; but they are thirsty. (Summers39)
Werewolves were originally viewed as very sickpeople who no longer had control over themselves: werewolves werepeople acting without conscience. Many believe “that allhuman, indeed all animal, behaviour is aimed at obtaining a maximumof pleasure and a minimum of pain, or even asserts that the desirefor pleasure and the fear of pain are the main motives of allour actions” (Eisler 23). This is true for humans in thecase of severe sickness and loss of mind. The werewolf in literatureis the person who acts out in such a way, the way that a wolfwould act [if the denigrating stereotype of the wolf were true].
As the legend of the werewolf has evolved,the werewolf has become more wolf-like. This evolution has broughtthe idea of a physical metamorphosis from man into wolf. In originalliterature and stories, the metamorphosis from man to wolf happenedthrough a superficial application of costume, such as using agirdle or wearing a wolf skin (Summers 112). The horror in thisconcept is not the shape, or changing of shape, of the werewolf,but rather the uncontrollable behavior. The change is the greathorror when depicted in horror films. In current film, the metamorphosisis often the most horrific moment of the entire picture. Physiologicalchanges are actually observed occurring, including bone structure,skin texture, and emergence of fangs. Hair grows over the body,the nose protrudes, fangs enlarge, and pointy ears emerge fromthe head. The difference between the original werewolf and thewerewolf of current films is not the behavior, for it has beenrelatively constant. Rather, the difference is in the physicalmetamorphosis.
The characters and myths of werewolves havelong been present but to this day remain extremely vague. Noone knows exactly what the werewolf is and why it is so horrific. Perhaps this ambiguity is due to the fact that the werewolf doesnot have a solid textual incarnation, but rather occupies legendand lore. The werewolf has never had such clear description inthe way that Mary Shelley depicted the Frankenstein Monster andBram Stoker defined the vampire with Dracula. Werewolves simplyare creatures possessed by a demon, very sick, or who, throughsome physical way, accrue the virus that leads to the cursed transformation. [Wagner the Werewolf of the Victorian potboiler notwithstanding,]there is not just one definitive werewolf.
Despite efforts in film to create the horrorof metamorphism as the primary terror of the werewolf, the realhorror is in the mystery of the creature. When one’s intentionsor motivations are unknown, the results are feared. Dracula ishorrific due to his nature, but at least his intentions are known. But werewolves will act out in ways that please themselves atthe moment. This behavior and the lack of conscience are foreign[or at least disturbing] to all dignified humans, and thereforethe werewolf is alien, evil, and horrific.
Eisler, Robert. Man Into Wolf. NY:Philosophical Library, 1951.
Summers, Montague. The Werewolf. NewHyde Park, NY: University Books, 1966.