In storytelling, monsters are used to express the fears and worries of humans. They allow us to discover our values by questioning our morals through imagination and illusion. In both Donnie Darko and Pan’s Labyrinth illustrating real-life monsters Captain Videl and Jim Cunningham enhances our fear of monsters. These villains symbolize the vulnerability we feel as we identify ourselves with the victims of the attack. We can relate each example of monsters to an evolution of our fears throughout our lives. The fear we have of monsters stems from the idea that our moral imaginations shape the danger inside these beastly beings.
As children, our vulnerability came from our fears of losing security. The monsters hiding under our beds taunted us with the threat that we’d be eaten and would never see our parents or that our most valued possession would be taken from us. This juvenile fear is illustrated in Pan’s Labyrinth through Captain Videl. He encompasses the threats we felt as children by being controlling and dominating, as he manipulates Pan and she loses her innocence. As we mature and the limits of our moral boundaries widen, the term “monster” evolves into something more complex.
As we enter into adolescence, and later into adulthood, our fears become something less to do with security and more to do with a threat to our happiness. Our moral imagination evokes fears of defeat and failure, a fear that we formulate in ourselves. As we grow older, we also fear the world and others that we cannot control. In Donnie Darko, Jim Cunningham, embodies our fears of a predator. He is the real-life monster we fear everyday with his complex, dark and twisted secrets. Ultimately, both Donnie Darko and Pan’s Labyrinth effectively embody our illusions of fear from childhood to adulthood.