Every day monsters; an analysis of the definition of monsters and marvels in the middle ages, based on the book "Monsters and Marvels" by ambroise pare

Essay by limabeanCollege, Undergraduate May 2004

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Every Day Monsters


In the fifteen hundreds, "monsters" were as real as today's politicians and celebrities, and public discourse about them helped contribute to their mythical status in the social realm. No one doubted their existence, their presence created spectacles in any public place, and those who were lucky enough to see these subhuman creatures were quick to confirm that they were, in fact, "real". Perhaps we must determine how one categorized or defined a monster in the Middle Ages, as to make them such a common phenomenon whereas in the twenty-first century, many people think the closest they have come to a real monster is the movie theatre. Ambroise Parè's book Monsters and Marvels, originally published in 1573, defines Monsters as the following: "Monsters are things that appear outside the course of Nature..." and Marvels: "Marvels are things which happen that are completely against Nature..."         (Parè, 3). These broad definitions in contemporary times can be nothing more than physical disabilities or birth defects found in common men.

Granted, there were creatures accounted for that we cannot justify today, but many of the monsters detailed by Parè are not within the realm of what we consider a monster in present times, and those which we do are considered only in fictional terms.

        Parè sites thirteen causes for the existence of monsters. Among them, only five are unrelated to the monster's natural early development. The majority, being attributed to the monster's mother, can be categorized in the following ways: In the act of conception, factors such as "too great a quantity of seed", "too little a quantity [of seed]", "rotten or corrupt seed", or "mixture or mingling of seed"; in the development of the child in the womb, a problem during the pregnancy of the monster's mother, such as "the...