Monster In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's Monster Culture

1335 Words 6 Pages
Monsters are not merely fictional creatures that hide in closets, or under beds waiting to pounce on their unsuspecting victims. One could say that human beings have the capability to become monsters. After all, it is the average individual who creates a culture of fear by perpetuating stigmas like: hate and prejudice. It seems as if fear derives solely from the environment in which the monster dwells, which in essence is everyday life. However, people do not just transform into monsters for the fun of it; their transformation is intentional, and that intention is often suppressed by a hidden agenda to manipulate other individuals, or the culture itself. In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s essay, “Monster Culture,” he explains the qualities of monsters …show more content…
Society deems what is and isn 't acceptable, and also limits what individuals can and cannot do. An awful habit that society has is creating small boxes, and shoving people into them. If one dares to venture out of the tiny box that they have been placed in, and decides to do something that is not perceived as normal the end result is that they face ridicule, and often times these individuals are likened to monsters. Labeling someone as a monster is a scare tactic since most individuals do not enjoy being ostracized; they will do everything in their power not to overstep their boundaries, and to remain average, like everyone else. In Cohen’s 6th thesis, he alludes to the fear of monsters as being a desire. Cohen states,“The monster is continually linked to forbidden practices in order to normalize and to enforce”(Choen 25). The practices that Cohen is referring to are those that society deems unacceptable, or peculiar, and by engaging oneself in such practices one then becomes a monster. Moreover, the narrator’s actions within Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” were deemed both unlawful and a forbidden because he ended someone’s life without probable cause. “It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none passion, there was none. I loved the old man.”(Poe 1). According to Cohen’s theory of a monster, he …show more content…
As previously stated, society defines culture, and within the culture there are certain deeds, and ideologies that are deemed as acceptable. Monsters are a representation of everything that the culture does not perceive as valuable. Cohen states,”the monster of prohibition exists to demarcate the bonds that hold together that system of relations, we call culture, to call horrid attention to the borders that cannot -must not -be crossed”. It is clear that in order to be accepted you must stay within the parameters of what society deems as possible. Cohen would agree that monsters have the ability to push people back into the borders of a culture. However, this is untrue for the narrator because he does not border the lines of what is possible simply because he is mentally unstable. “I felt the extent of my own powers-of my sagacity.”(Poe 1). The narrator does not encourage others not to be insane because he does not border what is possible. He goes as far as to boast he has powers from his “sagacity” which is truly his insanity that is fueling him. The narrator is never able to guard any boarders because it is impossible for him to escape his own insanity. The border of mental illness is not something that the narrator challenges since he is stuck in his own world. This world is made of a false reality that is swallowed by

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