Monsters in literature reflect common fears

Casja Baldini, a senior lecturer in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' English Department at Arizona State University, has been looking at the popularity of horror in books and films. She suggests that the monsters found there often reflect society's common fears. 

Ms Baldini noted vampire media has been a huge hit in recent years, thanks largely to the success of the Twilight series, with zombies also being a favoured topic.

She stated: "I would argue that monsters in literature, in general, are almost always indicative of things we fear in a sort of collective sense."

Paul Cook, a Principal Lecturer in the English Department, noted science fiction in the 1950s not only reflected the culture of the time, but also criticised it.

Mr Cook explained some monsters depicted in fiction act as a manifestation of the worst parts of humans, or a person's trait that has gone out of control.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Kate Sparks comments:

"Just as mental ill health is often an extreme of everyday behaviours, so imagined monsters can reflect the fears in individuals.

"On a cultural scale, as the article discusses, vampires and zombies are particularly popular at present. Vampires represent much evil and fear, but, as seen in the Twilight series for example, goodness can also been found amongst such 'monsters', with vampires who only consume artificial blood. So we have an underlying hope that goodness will win through.

"Zombies fit very much with the often fatalistic, the 'end is nigh' outlook seen in global warming and other environmental debates that are so prevalent in this media. Perhaps another reason why zombies are so popular too?"

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