ENG 120 CC Surrounded by Monsters People in Society & Monster Culture Essay

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Surrounded By Monsters

People in society are in fear of the monsters that the people created. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen wrote an amazon selection called “Monster Culture.” Jeffrey Cohen produced seven theses affirm that monsters represented the humans in culture and race. The different monsters represent the dark and evil things that exist in society and reveal the appearance to how those situations and issues look. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, is a English Professor at George Washington University. He studied creative and classical writing and he earned a PHD in English. He has been a English instructor since 1994 at George Washington University. I agree with Jeffrey Jerome Cohen about the theses that compare and relate to the role that monsters serve in society concerning culture and race. The monsters are centered around the issues in society with the different creators, race, gender, sexuality, and more. Jeffrey Cohen wanted to expand our view of knowledge and emphasize that knowledge goes deeper than what we see and experience. He proposes the seven theses to help us understand the different cultures through the monsters who created them. These monsters in the seven theses represent the diversity and the evils that occur between cultures, races, demographics, beliefs and more. This article will cover two theses, Cohen’s Thesis 1 and Cohen’s Thesis 4 and provide examples through real life occurrences to how the theses prove Cohen’s analysis through his breakdown of each theses.

Cohen’s Thesis 1 affirms that “the monster’s body is a cultural body” (Cohen, 1996). This explains that the monster’s body represents the different cultures in society and the creators. The monster’s body is the body of the cultures. The monster’s body represents the society as a whole and the different cultures within the society. The body shows the fears, desires, anxiety and the fantasies. This is the metaphor of what society is afraid of and we can see the darkness in society represented through the image of the monster. Monster’s should be recognized for more than a figment and creation in our imaginations. We need to see monsters are created from our fears. The monster represents domination, its aggressiveness towards competition, gender inequality and power. These components give the monster life. The image describes the monster’s culture as evil, dark, powerful, imbalanced, strong in strength and aggressive. Cohen’s Thesis 1 explains that the monster as a whole is the image of the culture in that society. No matter the type of monster you are, it will always have the reflection of what is going on in society and what they are feeling about what is going on. (Cohen, 1996). “The fear response is the initial fear after you become aware or knowledgeable of the counter hegemony, which is followed by the temporary rejection of that knowledge. This is a process to take up a potentially terrifying idea as long as necessary monsters are born through society and all that society represents. Cohen’s Theory 1 explains how society created the monsters that exist in the world today. (Cohen, 1996).

Cohen’s Thesis 4 affirms that “the monster dwells at the gates of difference.” This explains the alienation of the different kinds of monsters that are among us. The different kinds of monsters in the community are represented as the “other” and the “outsiders” from what the normal view of what is culturally, politically, racially, economically, and sexually considered the common or norm in that society. (Cohen, 1996). People who are different from the majority around them are frowned up for example racism with black people, homosexual people, transgender people, foreign/ alien people and people of certain religious cultures who physically signify their religious or belief. This thesis examines the difference in the culturals by the bible, different countries like France, where the crusades transformed the Muslims into demonic creatures allowing the annexation of the East by the West. Political figures have been turned and labeled demonic based on their actions and their beliefs. Sexual violations and gender transgressions were frowned upon. The difference in race and the color of your skin, primarily dark skin was not acceptable among the Ethiopians terrifying other people and being called sinful. This thesis claims the monsters have independent identifications and the monsters are seeking their creators for construction. Culturally, the monsters and the people considered creatures stand out to people because they may speak another language, have an accent, speak a different language style like “ebonics or slang”, communication is different and their demographics of how they live. Those components are viewed as Frankenstein to many people in society because Frankenstein looked scary, wore ragged dirty clothes and could not speak correctly. He has to learn the whole concept of language but he learns to adjust to his lifestyle the way it was with a little or a lot.

The monsters embodied are lonely and they have to be independent because no one will help them find their way or help them to be accepted by society. But Frankenstien was dependent on nothing and knew nothing. He has no life, no family and this is a cultural abnormality and this alone makes you stand out as a monster. Society has this interpretation of how people should live, how they should act, they should have friends and family and do the things that the majority of people in society view as normal. (Cohen, 1996). The monster is different by the skin color, Frankenstein had an abnormal skin color. This monster is in close connection to what suggests that black people or african american people are different creatures because of their dark skin color. Frankenstein was aware that he was different and he recognized that people were afraid of him. Cohen stated that “a monster is a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned.” (Cohen, 1996). This thesis proves that monsters and creatures are judged and frowned upon based on what we people see and believe about them according to their life science. Cohen affirms that monsters are different by their looks and they will always stand at the gate of indifference for that very reason.

The racial metaphor of Frankenstein symbolized a Black Frankenstein; it reveals the many racial issues in the United States. An important racial resonance was in 1831 , after the Nat Turner Rebellion that occurred in Virginia, in which the slaves revolted and killed over dozens of white people. Later the Virginia legislation met to discuss the legislation and one of the legislators invoked the image of the Frankenstein story used to defend slavery. They attempting to reject abbolishing slavery because the black people posed a threat to society and they were already considered animals. The legislature in Virginia argued that the slaves did not need to be freed. He speculated as he compared the black slaves to Frankenstein’s monsters who will revolt against their masters and kill them. The metaphor of the Frankenstein monster is still tragically relevant. It is unfortunately relevant among the authority figures and the citizens in the societies. People are violent, they are disobeying laws and breaking rules by creating their own moral reason for justification of their wrong. According to Elizabeth Young a professor and chair of English affirm that, there has been systematic violence against black men that has been visible in the past years and very relevant as of today. Many white people view black men to be monsters and that could be from instant judgement and racism or experience in actions that the black man may have done wrong things and caused the stereotype. I remember a notable case I would like to use as an example is in the case of Michael Brown, he is a young black man under 19 years of age was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. Darren Wilson was the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. He stated that Michael Brown was a “demon.” This is an example that suggests that black is considered monstrosity and when people see black people or black men they are frightening like monsters who predict that you must attack and take down.


We are surrounded by monsters and it almost sounds like the creator is a monster for creating a monster. Monsters represent the means of enforcing what we perceive instead of letting go of judgement and moving past that negative feeling you have of someone. Cohen stated that as a vehicle of prohibition, the monster always arises to enforce the laws of evil decrees against interracial mingling. (Cohen, 1996). Monsters allow people to see how bad society is in life and it shows that if you do not adhere to their cultural standards you are indeed a monster. We see an increase in violence, murders, police brutality and inequality in many areas. The heinousness will increase if people do not change how they treat and view other people. People need to be careful with inventions and their creations. Cohen shows in his theses that using the monsters show what happens when people deviate against society.


Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

Created manuscript called “Monster’s Culture.”

Affirm that monsters represent the body and culture of the human race.

II. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen Theses 1 & 4 Covered

Thesis 1 – The Monster’s body is the body of culture.

Thesis 4 – The Monster dwells at the gates of Difference.

III. Black Frankenstein

Nat Turner Rebellion

Slavery and slaves being compared to Franskenstein monsters.

IV. Black Frankenstein

Killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, called a “demon”

V. Conclusion

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