Heroes are not immune to a plague of sorrow and betrayal, for heroes can still become monsters as a result of exposure to such things. Michael Corleone is a fictional antihero in films The Godfather and The Godfather Part II Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The films are based on the novel by Mario Puzo, The Godfather. The films follow the lives of the fictional Corleone family. The Corleone family is a mafia family that dwells in New York City in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Michael was born into the mafia family, but for many years stayed out of the “family business”. Michael went to an Ivy League school and fought in World War II from which he returned a war hero. Michael intended to stay out of the Family business and out of the criminal empire. Michael did manage to stay out until an attempted assassination on his father, and as a result, Michael had to kill to save his father. After Michael killed the people who wished to kill his father Michael fled to Italy. It is Italy when Michael begins his transition from a hero to a monster. Why did Michael Corleone become a monster?

While in Italy Michael thought he was in paradise, for he had found a woman that he was in love with and he lived a simple life with no interference from his mafia family. Michaels peace and tranquility in Italy was shattered when he heard the word that his older brother Sonny was violently slain like an animal. This event was the start of Michaels descent to darkness, for he had a loved one taken away from him at the hands of another mafia family. The death of his brother was sudden and unexpected in fact, his death left a lasting impact on the entire family. Sonny’s death was extremely violent, and in Rachel Hibberd, Lisa Elwood, and Tara Galovksi’s journal article Risk and Protective Factors for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Prolonged Grief, and Depression in Survivors of the Violent Death of a Loved One, it is stated that “Compared to natural death, violent death is more likely to leave surviving parents, who may carry an additional burden of rage, stigma, and self-blame in contending with the loss” (Hibberd et al. 428). This states that those who are left alive after the violent death of a loved one are plagued by sadness and grief, and Michael is no exception. The violent death of Sonny left Michael with survivors’ guilt, for while his brother was murdered in the United States Michael was in Italy living a stress-free life. Michael hadn’t thought that his family was as vulnerable as it truly was. After the death of his brother Michael attempted to flee Italy with his new spouse, however before they could leave a bomb was planted in the car with the intention to kill Michael, however, when the bomb detonated it only killed Michaels wife. Michael’s sense of helplessness is solidified, and his character has been shattered, for now, seeks to combat such atrocities with equally atrocious actions. Once Michael’s father died and Michael became the head of the house he proved to be even more ruthless and brutal than his father because of the lost loved ones. Shortly after Michaels father died Michael had every other mob boss assassinated in one day. Michael had all the other bosses killed as a preventive protection for his own family, for this is a measure that Michael would not have taken before the loss of his brother and spouse. Michael started his transition to a monster the loss of his spouse and brother were the catalysts to create the monster that is to be Don Michael Corleone.

Being betrayed by one’s own kin is truly a reason to be upset, and Michael must deal with his brother betraying him to reap benefits that the enemy had promised. Michaels brother Fredo traded information about Michael to an emery mob boss of Michael. Michael disowns his brother, Fredo, for Michael feels as if there is nobody that he can trust now, not even members of the family. The loss of a child is hard to cope with for any parent, however, the death of Michael Corleone’s unborn child was a crushing blow to his human soul. Michaels wife Kay had murdered the unborn child. The betrayal that Michael was met with by his wife was enough to destroy what human was left inside of his body. Michael had not only lost a child, for he had also lost the trust of his wife. Michaels wife murdered the unborn child because she did not want to bring another son into this world whose father is Michael Corleone because she had realized that Michael was becoming a monster. Michaels encounters with betrayal proved to be costly for his mental health, as it his declining sanity can be supported with Bridget Klest, Andreea Tamaian, and Christina Mutschle’s academic journal article, Betrayal Trauma, Health Care Relationships, and Health in Patients with a Chronic Neurovascular Condition. The article states that “Victims of high-betrayal trauma report poorer physical and mental health than victims of lower betrayal trauma” (Klest et al. 20). Michaels sanity is in a questionable state, for he feels as if everyone is against him and he lives in a constant state of paranoia. The pain that Michael feels results in him never allowing his ex-wife to see his two children. Separating a mother from her children is evil and such an action is a precursor for other cold-hearted decisions that Michael Corleone makes. The betrayal that Michael faced had left him a hollow shell of a human only to be filled with the evils of vengeance.

The action that solidified Michaels place as a Monster is the murder of his brother Fredo. Fredo had betrayed Michael and as a result, Michael told his assassin for hire that Fredo was not to be touched while their mother was still alive. Upon the death of Michael and Fredo’s mother, Fredo was assassinated. Even though Michael had told Fredo that he had forgiven him, Michael still had Fredo assassinated. Michael had become the man that he despised as a young man, he became a vicious killer in charge of a criminal family. Michaels transition to a monster can be supported by Jeffrey Cohens, Monster culture (seven theses). Cohen uses seven theses to describe how monsters are made and why monsters are monsters. Cohen’s thesis titled “Thesis VI: Fear of the Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire” describes the situation that Michael has landed in. The thesis states that while humans may be afraid of a monster, such a monster has characteristics that a human would willingly like to acquire, for example, superhuman strength and speed in the case of Vampires. In Michaels case, he wishes to protect his family, but to do so he must become the monster that he did not want to become. This monster is a murderous mafia boss, and his desire to protect himself and what family he has left leaves him with no choice but to become the monster that he never wanted to become. But he murdered his own brother with that power so the initial desire to protect his family was violated and instead Michael used his new power for vengeance.

Michael Corleone became a monster because he had been plagued with betrayal and loss, and as a result, he sought to prevent such things by becoming the monster he never wanted to be by embracing the violent capabilities that a mafia family has. The loss of his wife and brother, while Michael was in Italy, was the start of the evolution that Michaels soul would undergo. Following the pain and sorrow from lost loved ones, Michael had been betrayed by people that he loved and trusted, which added to his unhealthy mindset of distrust. The final step to becoming the monster that he didn’t want to be as a young man was embracing his desire for vengeance and murdering his brother. Michael was a hero who became a monster by his choice, although it was influenced by the misfortunes that plagued his life.



Annotated Bibliography

Hibberd, Rachel, et al. “Risk and Protective Factors for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Prolonged Grief, and Depression in Survivors of the Violent Death of a Loved One.” Journal of Loss & Trauma, vol. 15, no. 5, Sep/Oct2010, pp. 426-447. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15325024.2010.507660.

The article is a medical evaluation of the effects of grief on the human mind following the violent death of a loved one. A violent death is explained to be a sudden and horrible death of a loved one. Often, not from natural causes. I use this information to explain why Michael is so greatly affected by the deaths of his brother and wife. The Information is reliable for medical researchers published it. In addition, the information was gathered from the Crafton Hills database.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster culture (seven theses).” Gothic horror: A guide for students and readers (2007): 198-217.

A document handed out in class that elaborates how the monsters that we make are made and why. The document goes into depth on monster theory by explaining seven theses that are relevant to the existence and creation of monsters. The document also defines what makes a monster a monster. The document is used in my evaluation as a measure of how monstrous the Xenomorph is. The source is reliable because it is used as source material for a college level English class.

Klest, Bridget, et al. “Betrayal Trauma, Health Care Relationships, and Health in Patients with a Chronic Neurovascular Condition.” Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, vol. 26, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 18-33. EBSCOhost,     doi:10.1080/10926771.2015.1107175.

The article details the effects of traumatic situations on the human psyche. Specifically, I gathered information about the trauma that results from betrayal. The information gathered shows why Michael Corleone was so greatly affected by the Betrayal that he had faced with his wife and Brother Fredo. The information was gathered from an academic database and is peer-reviewed and scholarly.


Links to images Used



Michael Corleone’s “Nice Ivy League” Charcoal Suit