Often things that are called monsters are not monsters at all, sometimes a lack of understanding is what drives people to label such things as monsters. Whether it be fear of the unknown or a lack of empathy, the word monster can be applied to most things. The unknown is a valid source of fear as it can be almost anything that one could possibly think of, so when sailors saw a giant squid off the side of their boat, their fear got the best of them. Thus, the Kraken was born, a creature of the deep that is of unparalleled size and mass, capable of dragging entire boats down to the cold dark depths with it. The creature was said to be large enough to snap entire ships in half with ease and devour unlucky crew members. The Kraken is a beast that has stood the test of time and has many different renditions of it becoming immortalized as an ever powerful being. This could also raise the question, what makes a good monster and what makes a bad one? While the Kraken is arguably one of the greatest monsters of the seas it is not generally something that inspires fear at the name of it. What it is more likely to happen is a piquing of curiosity as what is the Kraken and an interest to learn more about it rather than being afraid. So, for that reason, the Kraken is no more than a B rank monster at best for its lack of ability to inspire fear to those that hear the name. While not necessarily holding the same terror it once had, it still is a monster of great capability and worthy of respect.

Monsters are what we make them, whether they are twenty feet tall and can level buildings in seconds or our neighbor’s kids that are always in the street. Monsters can be anything and anyone. Perspective is what makes monsters and there are arguably certain criteria that all good monsters have. Monsters are things that can strike fear into the hearts of men with just the mere sight of it, so a good trait of one would be the size. According to J.R Lowell’s “Ode to France” the Kraken would often be mistaken for an island (Alder). Even the smallest islands are not actually small, one can only imagine the sheer magnitude of the beast when islands are being used as measuring units. With its large size, one can assume that strength would follow along with it, by using its monstrous size tentacles that were powerful enough to sink ships, it would do so and devour any of the unlucky crew members (Alder). Should the sailors be able to somehow fend off the tentacles it would then, “Start swimming in circles around the ship, creating a fierce maelstrom to drag the vessel down” (Salvador). Meeting another requirement of what makes a good monster, the ability to indiscriminately and ruthlessly kill as it pleases. Killing with a good cause can sometimes be explainable and perhaps even justified but when senseless murder is involved, that is when the assailant begins to cross the line into what is called a monster. Lastly, what makes a good monster is the possibility of the beast being real. “Giant squid are among the largest invertebrates known, but a consensus on their maximum size is lacking” (Paxton). As most of the ocean remains largely unexplored the possibility of squids growing to obscene lengths is entirely possible. Scientists can approximate the general size of squid by looking at the beaks of squid and when squid’s suckers leave scars on whales, they are able to gauge the size of them (Paxton). Even with today’s science those approximations can still be off leaving the possibility of even larger squids existing, most being out of our reach it is hard to determine what the total maximum length of these creatures really is. The Kraken is also shown in different movies but remains nothing more than a B rank monster.

The Kraken is frequently represented in movies and books but the way it is shown is rarely the same. Sometimes the only similarities of the monster are in name since the appearance of it can change so much. For example, one of the main monsters in Clash of the Titans (2010) is the Kraken and this iteration of the monster is a grand one. Towering well over the city and is shown to be in a more humanoid form rather than a giant squid like other versions of the beast. According to Cohen’s monster theory one, “The Monster’s Body is a Cultural Body” and represents a certain cultural moment — of a time, feeling, or place. This can be applied because when looking at the culture of the ancient Greeks it consists of an assortment of Gods and a multitude of monsters that are equal in grandeur. Therefore, an equally grand version would be necessary to fit with the rest of the culture of the time. Monster theory number two can also be applied because at the end of the movie the Kraken turns to stone after being defeated by Perseus, but even though it dies at the end of the story, the monster returns in plenty of other movies. This iteration of the beast is something that comes out of nightmares and defiantly qualifies as a monster.

A more realistic version of the Kraken is shown in the movies Pirates of the Caribbean film series but remains as an ever-terrifying beast. Arguably this version is the better and scarier one because this version does not come from a time of the gods but of men. The Kraken in this version is not fully shown but its tentacles and mouth are displayed at the end of Dead Man’s Chest (2006) devouring Jack Sparrow and subsequently dragging the entire ship down to the depths. In another part of the movie, it is shown with its tentacles snapping a whole ship in half at one point with ease, devouring the crew. How the first monster theory by Cohen is applied is by once again looking at the culture of the time set in the movie. Pirates are the rulers of the sea doing as they please occasionally fighting with British Navy using ships, cannons and swords. So, in this version, the Kraken need not be a giant monstrous being, but a squid octopus mix with grotesquely large tentacles that ensnare the crew members, snapping ships in half, and creating massive maelstroms. Another one of Cohen’s theories that can be applied is theory number two because although the Kraken is killed in the movie it still lives on to make another appearance in other books and movies and will continue to do so till its name fades from existence. This movies iteration of the monster shows a more real version of the monster and only makes it worse when the possibility of this creature existing and lurking in the remainder of our unexplored ocean remains.

            In conclusion, the monster known as the Kraken was perhaps once a very real terror to early Nordic sailors, but in todays day and age most will hardly bat an eye at the mention of its name. As shown in the movie Clash of the Titans (2010) the monster lives up to its name destroying everything in its path and while entertaining, it is hardly scary and fails to follow the lore of the beast. The depiction of the Kraken in the film series Pirate of The Caribbean is the better of the two and follows the legend of what the monster can do. While it does meet certain criteria of what makes a monster, it lacks the ability to create fear like many other monsters are capable of doing. Yes, it is capable of mass destruction and killing of the innocent, yes it is one of the undisputed ruler of the seas, yes it can cause massive storms. Although, for all that power and potential it lacks the notoriety of its monster brethren. For these reasons, while still grand stature, the Kraken can only be ranked as a B rank monster at best.

Annotated Bibliography

Alder, Emily. “Kraken.” The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Ashgate Publishing, 1st edition, 2014. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/ashgtmonster/kraken/0?institutionId=5312. Accessed 18 Jul. 2019.

            This article summarizes what the Kraken or sea monster is and all the times it is brought up in book or movies. The likelihood of a real Kraken existing is high as a large part of the ocean remains vastly unexplored. As a secondary source this article is filled with references and quotes from books and movies making it a strong source. Also, being one a source from credo the credibility of this source is very high as well.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture (Seven Theses).”. Gothic Horror: A Guide for Students and readers (2007):198-217.

            This excerpt of pages from Monster Culture argues that all monsters can be found or are created from seven theses. The theses are well laid out and provide a number of examples and strong quotes that are going to be very useful when applying to my specific monster. I plan to apply these theories to the monster that I am researching to get a better understanding and evaluation of it. The source is one that can be considered to have high credibility as it is something that is used to teach college students critical thinking.

Leterrier, Louis, director. Clash of the Titans. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2010.

            This movie is a retelling of a movie that had previously come out in the year 1981 and was redone in the year 2010. The story’s setting is in ancient Greek times and involves gods and other mythical creatures. Perseus sets out to save Andromeda from the kraken by killing medusa as well as the kraken in order to save her. I plan to use this movie as a reference to how there are many different iterations of the kraken and in this movie the version of it is grand.

Paxton, C. G. M. “Unleashing the Kraken: On the Maximum Length in Giant Squid ( Architeuthis Sp.).” Journal of Zoology, vol. 300, no. 2, Oct. 2016, pp. 82–88. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/jzo.12347.

            This article talks about the different types of marine life and their sizes and at the same time argues the possibility of the kraken existing. Explaining how scientists are able to determine how large squid are by beak size or even the scars left on whales. This article can be very useful when explaining some of the fears that early sailors had when seeing a very large squid in the waters. The credibility of this source is strong as well because it is an academic journal.

Verbinski, Gore, director. Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Mans Chest. Walt Disney, 2006.

            Pirates of the Caribbean has shown the kraken in at least two of their movies and being a more modern movie shows it well. The kraken is shown to be a devourer of ships essentially snapping them in half and dragging it down to the depths. In this movie the kraken is shown to be a pet of sorts belonging to Davey Jones and does his bidding. I plan to use it as a comparison between the two movies to show the differences as well as similarities.

Work Cited

Salvador, Rodrigo Brincalepe. “The Real-Life Origins of the Legendary Kraken.” The Conversation, Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy,17 Aug. 2018, theconversation.com/the-real-life-origins-of-the-legendary-kraken-52058