Fear and Loathing in Genève At some point in their life everyone has had a monster. It was the embodiment of everything we feared as children, some faceless entity that lived beneath our beds and waited ever patiently for our tiny feet to drop into grabbing distance. At some point we were all afraid of the dark, but as we grew older we learned that this fear was irrational. We learned that monsters, or the monsters we imagined, didn’t exist. Knowledge overcame fear, and therein lays my answer to the question. What is a monster? It is a universal fear, something that can strike terror into the heart of anybody on the planet, and the only universal fear that exists for mankind is the fear of the unknown. Monsters are born out of ignorance; we fear what we do not know. Through evolutionary development the human race has picked up “Panphobia” or “a constant fear of an unknown cause.” I could try to describe this phobia better, but I believe that Steven King, the anointed Emperor of fear himself, hits it right on the head, “Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations. They’re antithetical to the poetry of fear. In a horror story, the victim keeps asking why. But there can be no explanation, and there shouldn’t be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest, and it’s what we’ll remember in the end”. “Nightmares exist outside of logic”. Right off the bat King recognizes the basic universal phobia of all mankind. However King goes on to say “there is little fun to be had in explanations, they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear” meaning that to apply reason, logic, motive, what-have-you, to your monster is to remove the shadow of fear from it. So, if we can ever understand a monster, then is ceases being a monster. The question now is: What is a monster, if it is not a monster? I believe an example is in order. In the novel Frankenstein a child is killed. This act is described as monstrous, as it has no motive, or logic to it. It is a senseless murder, thus the townspeople are frightened and angered into quick justice, sentencing and killing an innocent woman. Frankenstein knows the identity of the true killer and seeks him out, but when the monster and the man meet, the monster explains all it desired was understanding, and the murder was an accident. Up until this point the monster had been simply that, a monster, but this sympathetic mission gives the monster humanity. The reader understands the monster now and, although he still committed the murder of a child, the reader seeks to feel sympathetic towards the creature, as does Frankenstein. What happens to a monster when it is not a monster? It becomes evil, maybe an evil that we can understand and sympathize with, but an evil still. Here is another example that doesn’t take place within 18th century literature. A man kills a husband and father of three; monstrous, no? However, later it is discovered that the killer did this with the motive to steal the man’s money and use it to feed his own kids, who need food and clothing of their own. The murderer is still guilty of the crime, but now we can sympathize with him. The act is no longer monstrous, only evil. So why does Mary Shelley give the monster a human side? If the purpose of a monster is to frighten and to torment, then why does she take away the one basic trait that makes things monstrous?