Werewolves in Literature

by , Monday July 20, 2015
Werewolves in Literature

@ireumeun.chloe shares her knowledge on werewolves in literature


We all know what they look like – their original form of a human meet wolf hybrid, walking on two legs, large snapping jaws, all traces of humanity apparently gone. Every two weeks, transforming into a beast triggered by the full moon. 

The concept of werewolves originates in a lot of 18th century literature as well as Greek Mythology. Popular classics on werewolves include ‘The Werewolf of Paris’ and ‘The Wolf Leader’. These all portray a werewolf on two legs, fur sprouting from the skin, not quite a human, not quite a wolf. 

Werewolves were never as popular as the frequently associated creature, the vampire. Then, in 2005, Stephanie Meyer penned and released the novel ‘Twilight’ – one of the most popular movies to feature a werewolf to date. What made Meyer’s wolves different from the classics, was that these werewolves didn’t transform and stop half way into some uncontrolled monster – they transformed completely. They weren’t werewolves, they were shape-shifters. However, the popularity surrounding the series transformed werewolves nevertheless and werewolves began to make a comeback in modern literature – under the name of werewolf despite looking eerily similar to those portrayed in twilight as ‘shape-shifters’. 

What attracts readers and writers to these modern werewolves would vary person to person, but generally modern werewolves are more in sync with their human mind as a wolf. They don’t lose control, they don’t transform on a full moon. Also, modern werewolves have an added advantage – Mates. Not all modern portrayals of werewolves use this, but it’s seen in one form or another in a lot of novels. A mate, much like in the wild, is someone you’re with for life. You love them no matter what, protect them with your life, and keep forever by your side. The addition of mates in werewolf literature further alienates the classic portrayal of a vicious and feral beast incapable of love. 

Werewolves in modern literature began to lose their loner status, they were no longer outcasts of society – they live in families called ‘packs’. Added in with their ‘mate’ situation, modern werewolves look nothing like how the classics portrayed them. This transformation is similar to that in vampire literature – look at Dracula and compare him to the characters in The Vampire Diaries. 

The closest portrayal of classic werewolves in modern media is with the TV series ‘Teen Wolf’ – however that’s based on the movie of the same name from the 80’s when the modern image of a werewolf wasn’t around. In Harry Potter, Professor Lupin was portrayed as a classic werewolf as well. 

There’s still a lot of heated debate surrounding classic werewolves Vs modern werewolves. I for one prefer the modern werewolves – they seem more versatile and adaptable to modern day stories, and it’s also more popular with readers who prefer the romance and dynamics of a modern werewolf lifestyle. Everyone’s bound to have an opinion, so what’s yours? Classic werewolf, or modern werewolf?

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