Compare Essay Example: Medieval and Modern Werewolf

Published: 2022-07-14
Compare Essay Example: Medieval and Modern Werewolf
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Comparative literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 845 words
8 min read

Fantasy writing has always been a source of inspiration for literature. It is a type of writing that move a reader from the world of reality to fantasy. While reading fantasy or gothic literature, the reader is attracted to something obscene, unusual, scary and unknown. Simply, it is a strange feeling to describe. As an example of fantasy personalities, one of the most famous legends is the werewolf (half wolf and half man creature). Fantasy histories such as Bisclavret and The Werewolf of Paris grow out of human fears because the feeling that those legends provoke awakens interest in many writers.

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"Although the characters range from horrifying beasts to friendly companions there is a general continuity among the creatures - they are all strong, powerful, and anamorphous. Traditionally they are also associated with a lunar cycle and only change during a full moon. Also, most werewolf legends agree upon the idea that the condition is passed through the bite" (Werewolves).

Under their cover, the stories cause a horrifying illustration that makes readers, especially children to tremble with fear.

Bisclavret and The Werewolf of Paris are fascinating texts about werewolves. Marie de France originally wrote Bisclavret in the twelfth century, and it is the story of the werewolf of Brittany who was captured in lupine form through the disloyalty of his wife. (Lord 6). This history is different from other werewolf stories of the same time. Bisclavret illustrates werewolves as noble and heroic characters while other texts illustrated them as diabolic and dangerous creatures (Small 87).

Bisclavret is a type of story that shows the reality in medieval times when women had no power over their husbands. Nowadays it is acceptable to ask about the whereabouts of one's husband, but Bisclavret's wife did not have the same power in medieval time. There are different interpretations of the story by different people because the story brings to the forefront the oppressive social context of the medieval era. It surely has a social and historical context and comparing with other medieval literature of the twelfth century submits a consistent picture of a male-dominated social structure.

In contrast, The Werewolf of Paris is a different story because it is a horror novel in Nineteenth-century France. The story is somewhat unusual because it is neither a fantasy nor a puzzle; it could be documentary at best. It is a realistic historical novel with a werewolf as the principal character. The story talks about Bertrand Caillet, the werewolf, throughout the turbulent events of the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune of 1870 (Endore 42). Caillet is an American narrator who is working on his doctoral research in Paris and discovers a manuscript in the hands of some waste-pickers, which he describes as "The Galliez report" (Endore 29) While reading it, he noticed the words 'lunapar' and 'wolf' that caught his attention (Dirda). Galliez's memoir begins when Josephine, a young country girl of fourteen years old, comes to live with the narrator's aunt. This young girl attracts the attention of the local priest, Father Pitamont renown for his wolfish savagery. During a thunderstorm, the priest rapes the girl. After this horrific event, something inside her changes and she becomes promiscuous.

This history has a repeated effect on readers addressing ethical questions and even speculating about Galliez's memoir. The narrator in this story uses the werewolf narrative to represent and comment on the fervent political climate of France in the 19th century. He says cynically on the confusions and mistakes of the collective and capitalist system (Endore 19). The difference between both tales Bisclavret and The Werewolf of Paris is the time in which both were written; that is a significant fact because people in the medieval and modern eras thought about and experienced life very differently. In the medieval tale, the wolf is an ordinary creature, savage with human memory and habits. The creature has specific characteristics, for example; he converts in a particular way from man to a werewolf especially when somebody makes him feel angry (Endore 32).

Most of the time the traitor in the werewolf story is a woman. The woman is in most cases the wife or the mother of the heroic character. In contrast, in the modern tales, werewolves are not only mythical monsters but also friends, mentors, and they do not destroy people (Reynolds 43). They provide a humanitarian aspect that makes the reader sympathize. The image of the werewolves has changed over the years, and they are no longer seen as strange creatures because contemporary writers make them look as positive and friendly individuals.

Works Cited

Endore, Guy. "The Werewolf of Paris. 1933." London: Sphere (1974).

Lord, M. Bisclavret (The Werewolf).Alt Hist Press. (2014).

Michael Dirda. "Lupine savagery in 'The Werewolf of Paris'." The Washington Post, August 8, 2012. Retrieved on 9 August 2018 from

Reynolds, Emily. "Screams, Vampires, Werewolves, and Autographs: An Exploration of the Twilight Phenomenon."(2009).

Small, Susan. "The Medieval Werewolf Model of Reading Skin." Reading Skin in Medieval Literature and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2013. 81-97.

Werewolves. "Werewolves in Literature." Werewolves. August 23, 2009. Retrieved on 9 August from

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