Sunday, April 13, 2014

Assignment 24: Response to Dorothea Lasky

My Monster, My Self - Eleanor Davis

Dorothea Lasky

This is a world where there are monsters
There are monsters everywhere, racoons and skunks
There are possums outside, there are monsters in my bed.
There is one monster. He is my little one.
I talk to my little monster.
I give my little monster some bacon but that does not satisfy him.
I tell him, ssh ssh, don’t growl little monster!
And he growls, oh boy does he growl!
And he wants something from me,
He wants my soul.
And finally giving in, I give him my gleaming soul
And as he eats my gleaming soul, I am one with him
And stare out his eyepits and I see nothing but white
And then I see nothing but fog and the white I had seen before was nothing but fog
And there is nothing but fog out the eyes of monsters.

On the “Browse Poems” section of the Poetry Foundation website, there was a list of “poems about ghosts and the supernatural”.  It led me to find Monsters by Dorothea Lasky, which first appeared in Poetry Not Written for Children that Children Might Nevertheless Enjoy by Lemony Snicket, a favorite author of mine.  I loved the simple childlike language of this poem, for it contrasted the dark seriousness of the subject matter.

The poem started with characters that are hardly “monsters”, such as raccoons, skunks, and possums.  I suspected the narrator was a very young child, for to her, animals might appear as monsters.  Then the poem took a rather haunting turn with the line “There is one monster.  He is my little one.”  The possessiveness of this line suggests that either the monster is under the narrator’s control, or the narrator is under the monster’s control.  We soon learn that it is unfortunately the latter.

I relate Lasky’s “little monster” to the Jungian shadow or “devil” conscious.  Everyone has a dark side – an inner pet that demands attention.  I love the line “I give my little monster some bacon but that does not satisfy him.”  The narrator feeds her monster food from a small animal, which circles back to the poem’s beginning.  One might interpret this as the speaker feeding off the dark monsters of others.  But I think the fact that bacon is so greasy, heavy and juicy, it shows how truly hungry the little monster is. 

I studied the Jungian shadow in a psychology course here at Ringling.  The shadow is a dark side that we choose to hide or ignore because of its negative associations.  We hence cover our true selves with a mask and hide who we are – our thoughts, truths, opinions – until we’re ready to explode.  I equate Lasky’s “little monster” with the Jungian shadow.

The end of Monsters is even more disturbing, for the narrator transforms completely into the monster. Her vision becomes that of the darkness that was living inside of her.  As I stated previously, the childlike language of Lasky’s work is so effective because it shows that even the calmest and most innocent people can have bad sides.  The line “shh, shh, don’t growl little monster” makes one visualize a child attempting to tame or comfort an animal.  But even this calm and caring character transforms into a monster herself in the end. 

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