?

Log in

 

The Werewolf - Gothic Witchcraft

About The Werewolf

Previous Entry The Werewolf Apr. 28th, 2004 @ 11:32 am Next Entry
The Werewolf

Image: In a more human form, the classic Jekyll/Hyde appearance, or a bipedal blend of human and wolf forms with teeth bared.

Power: Transformation, changes, cycles

Symbology: the Wild Man/Wild Woman, uncontrolled passion paired with virginal purity

Examples:

The Phantom Ship by Frederick Marryat
The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (While not strictly a werewolf story as the main character doesn't shift over into a more wolflike form, he does find himself overcome by the inner bestial nature that is identical to the werewolf.)

Comments:

Werewolves, in gothic literature, represents the divided nature of man striving to contain the wild beast and civilize him. They are often depicted as ferocious, hairy, unkempt, dripping with blood, or devouring men and represent the periodic eruption of man's more instinctual nature from its confines. There are several ways in which lycanthropy can initially be triggered: punishment from the Gods, through the use of skins or furs (human or wolf) made into belts or wrapped around the person, or through means of witchcraft. In Victorian terms, the werewolf is fighting its divided nature and the conflict between denial of the self on the path of virtue and engaging in pleasure and vice with little thought to the consequences.
Current Mood: awake
Leave a comment
[User Picture Icon]
From:corielena
Date:April 28th, 2004 04:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
hmmm...i can certainly see the wild man/woman symbology, as well as uncontrolled passion. the phrase virginal purity, though, leaves me at a loss. i suspect we're coming from different angles on that one--virginal purity, even in human form, is not a concept i'm familiar with associating with lycnathropes of any flavor (hopefully humorous interjection: i used to have a book on werewolves when i was a kid. it listed several incidents that had been reported of purported and confessed werewolves. one was an Indian {from India} man who claimed to shapeshift into a hippopotamus and ravage his neighbor's garden. it was not held to be a trustworthy report....). at any rate, could you perhaps explain the phrase to me, or perhaps point me to specific examples of werewolf as uncontrolled passion/virginal purity?
as i recall, among certain Victorian medical practioners, sometimes they would attempt to disprove a person's belief that they were a werewolf by removing the person's skin, thus proving that there was no fur on the inside. it seems to be they did this because, in a few cases, the "werewolf" claimed that the fur was not visible because it grew on the inside of their skin.
as i see the concept of lycanthropy, it symbolizes change. specifically, the desire for a sudden and violent change. the Victorian era was publically a rather repressed one (although what went on privately is another story....). i can easily see many a person viewing themselves as trapped by societal stricture wanting an excuse to break free of their chains in such a manner.
and lastly, another method of making oneself into a werewolf was said to be to drink water or dew from the pawprint of a wolf. there was also an ointment, which contains several rather horrible ingredients, and i'm not speaking of the herbs that went into its making.
[User Picture Icon]
From:blackthornglade
Date:April 28th, 2004 04:47 pm (UTC)
(Link)
hmmm...i can certainly see the wild man/woman symbology, as well as uncontrolled passion. the phrase virginal purity, though, leaves me at a loss. i suspect we're coming from different angles on that one--virginal purity, even in human form, is not a concept i'm familiar with associating with lycnathropes of any flavor

A goodly part of this comes from the concept of Jekyll/Hyde and the concepts of virtues and vices. In the Victorian period, the ideals surrounding the perfect man/woman were pushed out to an extreme. In this case, virtue takes on, in women, maintaining the demeanor of a chaste young woman. Even Jekyll, before he started developing his experiments, bordered on the pure side of virtue. It represents the "human" side between those periods where the wolf comes out and engages in vice.

In most of the treatments that I've been reading over on werewolves in the victorian period, it's this dual nature housed in one body and the eternal battle that's important, not the lycanthropy per se.

at any rate, could you perhaps explain the phrase to me, or perhaps point me to specific examples of werewolf as uncontrolled passion/virginal purity?

The closest I can come is Jekyll/Hyde. It's what most of the references I've seen are refering to.

... in a few cases, the "werewolf" claimed that the fur was not visible because it grew on the inside of their skin.

I think the main difference in what we're talking about lies in the fact that I'm looking most at literary sources, rather than people claiming to be werewolves and the medical practitioners at the time. Those lead down two very different paths, I think.

and lastly, another method of making oneself into a werewolf was said to be to drink water or dew from the pawprint of a wolf. there was also an ointment, which contains several rather horrible ingredients, and i'm not speaking of the herbs that went into its making.

*heh* I've run across several recipes, though I can't remember what time period they're theoretically from. And they seem rather foul, yes.

[User Picture Icon]
From:wickedwit
Date:April 30th, 2004 09:45 am (UTC)
(Link)
There's something to think about! I'm beginning to wonder if the Pre-Raphaelite obsession with maenads is coming from a similar angle... animalistic madness taking over (temporarily) the average person.
[User Picture Icon]
From:blackthornglade
Date:April 30th, 2004 09:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
I've run into a fair number of articles on Raphelite and pre-raphealite while running through the searches I'm doing. I would be willing to bet that it's something very similar, yes. I'm finding that there are a somewhat limited number of themes coming up in this particular time period and the ones just before and after. The concepts of good/evil, vice/virtue, corruption of the innocent, and the classic issues regarding men/women, sexuality, homosexuality, and appropriate behavior.

this period was, to a degree, a focus on extremes. There wasn't a whole lot of middle ground, and I'm beginning to think that art, whether written or otherwise, was the best outlet *for* that ambivalence and the issues that were created. There certainly wsn't a lot of outlet in their lives, due to having to live up to the standards and ideals of the time.
[User Picture Icon]
From:wickedwit
Date:May 3rd, 2004 07:45 am (UTC)

Nearly nothing. ;)

(Link)
While I've found nearly no Victorian-era art that deals with werewolves, per se, there are several of maenads and bacchantes. ;)


The Drunk Bacchante (La Bacchante Eviree) by Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel


The Bacchante by Prosper d'Epinay



A Dancing Bacchante at Harvest Time by Lawrence Alma-Tadema



The Bacchante by Jean Leon Gerome (this one's my favorite!)



The Bacchante by William Bouguereau

[User Picture Icon]
From:blackthornglade
Date:May 3rd, 2004 07:51 am (UTC)

Re: Nearly nothing. ;)

(Link)
*pouts* I can't get any of the pages to load.
[User Picture Icon]
From:wickedwit
Date:May 3rd, 2004 11:26 am (UTC)

Re: Nearly nothing. ;)

(Link)
Is there a way to edit my comment? Apparently they don't allow remote linking. (I linked directly to the bigger/high res graphics). If I can edit, I'll go through and put in the html files. If not, I'll re-comment.
[User Picture Icon]
From:blackthornglade
Date:May 3rd, 2004 11:28 am (UTC)

Re: Nearly nothing. ;)

(Link)
I'm not seeing a way to easily edit them. I can edit the original post, but I think the comments are as is. Would you mind recommenting?

Thanks!

[User Picture Icon]
From:wickedwit
Date:May 3rd, 2004 12:15 pm (UTC)

Nearly Nothing: Retry

(Link)
I'm going to try this again. ;) Unfortunately, some of these link to a list of paintings by the artist you'll have to scroll through for the right title.

A priestess of Bacchus by John William Godward

At the Gate of the Temple (aka The Priestess of Bacchus, Guardian) by John William Godward

Bacchante Enviree (The Drunk Bacchante) by Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel

Bacchante by Prosper d'Epinay

A Harvest Festival (aka A Dancing Bacchante at Harvest Time) by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

The Bacchante by Jean-Léon Gérôme (this one's my favorite)

Bacchante by WIlliam Bouguereau

[User Picture Icon]
From:blackthornglade
Date:May 3rd, 2004 01:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Nearly Nothing: Retry

(Link)
Thank you! :)
(Leave a comment)
Top of Page Powered by LiveJournal.com