Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Monster as Hero--What's the Allure?

Beauty and the Beast. Cupid and Psyche. The Donkey Prince. What do these myths/fairy tales have in common?

A time-tested romantic archetype—the monster whose humanity must be restored through love.

The fairy tale Beast has made himself a monster. He’s committed acts so inhumane, he’s cursed with an exterior as ugly as his heart. Cupid, the Roman god of love, falls in love with the human Psyche, but like all ‘rock stars’ he’s afraid she’ll love him only because of who he is, his incredible beauty, and not for himself. He pretends to be a horrible monster and keeps her literally in the dark to see if he can win her love by his actions. The Donkey Prince is cursed at birth with a donkey’s body due to his parents’ actions. Determined to be accepted, he learns to play beautiful music, wear fine clothes, and behave with princely manners, but nothing will hide his donkey features.

They’re monsters, regardless of the reason, because that’s how they show themselves to the world.

How do they deal with it? The Beast withdraws, drowning in his misery and guilt. Cupid hides behind darkness and deceives his bride and her family. The Donkey Prince picks up his lute and seeks solace in his music.

What can save them? A woman courageous enough to withstand everything the monstrous exterior can throw at her because her compassionate heart detects the spark of humanity within.

With patience and prodding, Beauty digs the Beast out of selfish misery to selfless caring. Psyche pursues her man/god through all the trials his mother Venus throws at her to convince Cupid (and his mother) she fell in love with the beast long before she knew he was a god. The princess falls in love with the heart of the donkey who can make such beautiful music, and he sheds his animal skin.

Why do we love these monster-heroes?

Because each of us yearns to be seen for who we truly are rather than what we look like. We don’t want to be books judged by our covers. Look inside. Read our pages. Discover our stories. Every time one of these monster-heroes is redeemed and revealed, it’s an affirmation that love truly does see with the heart and not with society’s eyes.

Obviously, I’m fascinated with the monster-hero since I featured him in BLOODSTONE, but what about you? Who’s your favorite monster-hero? Why?

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