Analysis is the process of breaking a subject down into its parts, usually with the goal of seeing how those parts fit together or improving our understanding of the subject as a whole. A good analysis does not divide its subject into random elements; instead, it uses a particular, carefully selected principle of analysis to determine which elements are relevant to purpose of the analysis.
In chapters 2 and 4 of Monsters, Andrew J. Hoffman presents a selection of texts examining the questions, “How do monsters reflect their times?” and “What is the power of the monster?” The articles in chapter 2 analyze how cultures around the world and throughout history have created monsters that reflect their obsessions, especially their fears. In a parallel fashion, the articles in chapter 4 analyze how monsters can reflect not just a culture’s fears, but also its desires.
In an academic essay of 3-4 pages, analyze a cinematic monster in terms of the cultural fears and desires it reflects. Be sure to provide your readers with an accurate understanding of the monster and a detailed breakdown of some of the specific cultural fears and desires represented by its portrayal in the film. Also, connect your analysis to similar points from several articles in Monsters to provide expert support for your analysis and demonstrate that the connections you describe are not just in your mind. Finally, be sure to distinguish between your ideas and those of other writers, to indicate any use of other writers’ language, and to document where such ideas or language comes from.
Q: Can my topic be a monster portrayed in a television series or a sequence of films?
A: Not for this essay. To keep this assignment from becoming too complex for the assigned length, focus your analysis on one feature-length film. If you choose a film that has sequels, prequels, or remakes, ignore those other portrayals and only analyze the monster as portrayed in that specific film.
Q: Can my topic be a monster from a film that contains multiple monsters?
A: Yes, but your essay needs to analyze only that one monster (or monster type). Choose a film in which a single monster (individual or swarm) plays a substantial role, not a film that depicts a wide variety of monsters for brief moments. For example, the undead hordes in a zombie movie can be easily analyzed as multiple examples of the same monster, but the aliens at MIB headquarters in Men in Black or the creatures at the Troll Market in Hellboy II: The Golden Army cannot.
Q: Horror movies freak me out. Can my topic be a monster from an action film, a comedy, or a cartoon?
A: Yes, as long the monster is portrayed as a monster and not as a person who happens to have a monstrous appearance. The monster doesn’t need to scare you, but it does need to scare the characters in the film, or you won’t be able to analyze it properly.