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Gods and Monsters

Bram’s characters in “Gods and Monsters” are intended to be understood as complete human beings. As such, their characters offer many ambiguities and contradictions: each of the characters is both passive and aggressive, for example, with James Whale passive regarding his inability to change the past or even “atone” for the past — adrift in painful nostalgia and frustrated ambitions — while Clayton Boone is “drifting” without any specific calling or aspiration, passive allowing his life to pass him by, but he is aggressive in his desire that his life be different from that of his dysfunctional family.

By allowing the characters to display contradictions, Bram creates more believable characters and this adds to the plausibility of the entire novel which enriches the reader’s experience. 2) Unlike Whale, Clayton Boone is an invented character and not based on an actual person. What function does Boone play in the novel? Boone is both a “son” figure to the “father” figure of James Whale in the novel, but he is also identified with the “monster” in Whale’s Frankenstein movies.

His character is meant to symbolize the eternal alienation of youth from the world as it is as opposed to as what it could or should be. The term “monster” and the idea of monsters is used ironically in the novel as it is is ironically in Whale’s actual films. 3) On more than one occasion in the novel, Bram uses the image of a mirror to suggest that James Whale and Clayton Boone are more alike than they might first appear. In what ways do these characters resemble one another?

The characters are alike in that they are each men who face frustrated or uncertain ambitions, frustrated or uncertain sexuality, frustrated or uncertain pasts, and a frustrated or uncertain future. Each of the characters is fiercely independent, yet each of them craves the intimacy of friendship and romantic love. Their mutual regard for both grim realities of life and the humor of life also make them similar. 4) Among other things, Gods and Monsters is a novel about the psychology of homophobia. What exactly does it reveal about this subject?

The message about homophobia revealed in the novel is that: we fear what we don’t understand. We make monsters of that which is seemingly alien or different to us, but in reality we are all made of the same stuff. It is important to realize that the idea of sex and death are applied equally to homosexuals and heterosexuals in the novel as they are applied in actual life because it helps to universalize each of the dispositions: gay and straight and show that the cosmetic differences do not actually touch the underlying emotional life-experiences when it comes to terms of friendship, love, intimacy… or loss and regret.

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