Signs of the Self
The function of the monster as a sign (monstrare, to show) that warns against intellectual surquedry is an intellectual tradition reaching down from the third-century theologian Pseudo-Dionysius. Overly confident images of the self are shattered, often violently, by the monstrous negations that confront them. A discussion of two classic monsters, the doppelganger and the hermaphrodite, attempts to illustrate this by examining their appearance in three literary texts: Dostoyevsky’s The Double, Flannery O’Connor’s Temple of the Holy Ghost, and the Neil Jordan film The Crying Game.
Keywords: monsters; self-image; Pseudo-Dionysius; Dostoyevsky; Flannery O’Connor; Crying Game