For this final paper, I plan on writing about the hybrid nature of the werewolf in Marie de France’s Bisclavret. I’ll be using some the critical resources from my annotated bibliography (all of which deal with ‘animal studies’ in some way) to explore my subject in detail. I am interested in the question: who (what?) is the real monster in this story? If it is an important distinction to make, then how does that affect our interpretation of the werewolf’s actions?
Furthermore, it seems that he is happier in his “werewolf” form than in his human form; what does this suggest about our tendency to value humans over animals/beasts/monsters regardless of the individual worth of the animal or human in question? Animals that retain some semblance of humanity are looked upon with less derision precisely because they are more human and less “beastly.” The hybrid nature of the werewolf is such that it is considered an abomination to nature—it is neither a human nor a monster (occupying some “freakish” in-between state) and anything less than fully human is inevitably, even willfully, misunderstood by humans.
I particularly like the ideas surrounding Jeffrey Cohen’s “monster theory.” He talks about the simultaneous materiality/immateriality of monsters (in this case, werewolves) and, how, as humans, that is a frightening prospect because they defy categorization, in a very physical sense of the word. I will probably also utilize Charlotte Otten’s article in which she discusses the physical state versus mental state of being a werewolf, i.e. there are degrees of “beastliness.” Should one who transforms into the state of a beast (although maintaining human thoughts and judgments) still be considered a beast?
These are just some of the ideas I am considering, but I haven’t nailed down an exact argument yet. As far as a title, I have no idea, but I was thinking that “The Hybrid Nature of Werewolves” will work for now.