Writing Prompt #14: Monsters, Myths, and Legends
Monsters, myths, and legends have been around as long as humanity. I could go do a bunch of research and give you links, but I'm not going to do that today. Instead, I'm going to pose a question.
Why are monsters, myths, and legends so popular?
Most of us have cut our teeth on fairy tales and bedtime stories. Perhaps that is where the love of things that go bump in the night originates.
After reading all of Grimm's fairy tales, I realized they are not necessarily children's stories. They can get pretty scary, fantastic, and even violent.
But we love Grimm's stories so much they made a T.V. show!
I remember I was 9 years old when my mother started reading Edgar Allen Poe at bedtime. The Tell Tale Heart scared me. Mostly when my mom would narrate the heart beat. Thump thump. Thump thump. I also really didn't like the old man's blind eye.
If you haven't read it, please do!
Even though I was terrified by the staring blind eye, I wanted my mom to read it to me every night. I also enjoyed tales of Max und Moritz who were two very human boys but we're also very cruel. They pulled "pranks" on various villagers, killing and maiming as a result. Starting with choking, hanging, and killing 4 chickens.
They go through town wreaking havoc, injuring and maiming, stealing and causing loss of livelihood before ultimate being ground up with the village corn only to be eaten by ducks.
Why was I so fascinated with this kind of story? Why, when I was in 5th grade and we started learning about the Greek myths did I suddenly start paying attention?
Beowulf is still one of my favorite poems. It's a terryfying tale of a monster terrorizing the king and the countryside.
So why are monsters, myths, and legends so fascinating?
In my case I believe it was because of the real life cruelty I experienced even at such a young age. The scary stories were only scary while the story was being told. As soon as the book closed, the fear could be put back on the shelf, too.
I was bullied a lot as a kid. And when I would tell, the bullies would say they were only joking. They were only "pranking" like Max and Moritz. How I wished my bullies would end up being ground into tiny bits and eaten by ducks.
As I learned more about the Greek and Roman myths and legends, I also realized all the bible stories I read as a kid for into these same categories. I found not only an escape into fantasy where tiny David could slay giant Goliath, where Medusa could turn people to stone with a single look, where Kraken and mermaid (sirens) were pitted against every day people. Where Gods turned themselves into swans to have sex with women. Where a giant whale can swallow a dude whole and that dude could just go on living inside the whale (also, Pinocchio).
While I was reading all of these adventures I felt confident I could defeat my personal monsters. I've had quite a few. People who were supposed to be kind and caring, who were supposed to be trusted turned into monsters. The kinds of monsters who are verbally and physically cruel. Who abuse sexually. Who allow the abuse to continue because no matter how many times I spoke up, I was disbelieved or dismissed.
Is it any wonder Narnia was as real to me back then as my milk goats are today? Is it any wonder I read J.R.R. Tolkien's entire Lord of the Ring series before I was 13? I would've happily had snakes for hair if it meant I could turn people to stone. I would've happily caught the Ring Wraiths of it meant I could be a hero and prove my strength.
Those are my reasons. At least the reasons I can think of at the moment.
As a means of escape into a story.
As an example of overcoming and vanquishing my monsters.
As something I could take out and put away. I could close the book.
As the possibility I could walk through a wardrobe or turn into a dragon or throw the ring into the lava.
In the world of monsters, myths, and legends I could pretend to be everything I wasn't in real life. Most of all I could pretend I was powerful. I could pretend to be the hero. I could pretend I wasn't bad.
If you would like to participate in this writing prompt please follow these simple steps:
Write anything about monsters, myths, and legends
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Tag me, @JonicaBradley
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A few notes.
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