02 November 2013


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 75

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the werewolf? Not lately, I'm sure, so it may be a bit of a surprise to anyone who started reading this blog after 2010. But it remains my favourite monster--which, as Bob has recently reminded me, means warning, from the Latin "monstrare."

The warning in the movie Bad Moon (See my Thirteen Things!) was easy enough to figure out. What about the warning in this meeting's scheduled radio play? 

Was anyone else surprised when the story ended? Not because of the expected twist, but because there seemed to be no twist at all? Or rather, no ending? I actually checked alternative uploads, just in case there had been some mistake, but the play really does stop where it stops. =S

It's awkward because of the expectations that the beginning sets up for us. Hermann is so convinced that the curse will keep following him that he convinces us of it, too. So it seems to fall to the kind couple who have taken him in to persuade him (and us) that he can finally be at peace . . . or at least it would if they had had a chance to do it. His terrified father, though dead by the time the whole story is told, gets to have the last word--and given how well his first plan to run away went for his family, we are naturally skeptical that the same strategy will work a second time.

After listening to this, I became curious about the source material and went looking for it. And as I suspected, The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Frederick Marryat does offer more closure in its ending. It also shows just how far people are willing to run from their pasts: by the time Hungarian-born Hermann tells the story, he is in Malaysia and headed for India. (Of course, all this begs the question of whether running in space is an effective way of escaping something in time.) 

Another difference between Marryat's story and this Weird Circle version is the father's treatment of Hermann's little sister Marcella. In the original, he makes her the target of all residual anger toward her unfaithful mother. And he's generally more hardhearted than he is portrayed in the play--a match, not a foil, to the "wicked stepmother" he brings into his home. The Monster Land blog has an interesting analysis of Christine/Christina in the post Female Sexuality and the Werewolf in "The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains"--but Monster Scholar doesn't touch on the character of Marcella. Perhaps we can extrapolate and say that inasmuch as little girls will grow into their sexuality, they are potential monsters.

Now, I never would have done an interpretation like this on my own, but I seem to be in the minority. For even The Weird Circle addresses this element, if only to neutralise it, in what happens to be my favourite line from the script: "You are kind and good . . . and yet you are a woman!" ROFLMAO!

What are your thoughts on The Werewolf?

1) Do you believe that the sins of the parents fall on the heads of the children? If so, what can be done to break the chain?
2) What would you say the white wolf warns us against?

Our next play will be "Three Skeleton Key" from Escape. There are several versions, but the one everyone seems to remember is the second that stars Horror heavyweight Vincent Price. (Yes, "that" and not "which": for Mr. Price apparently reprised the role more than once!) As much as I'd love to be contrarian and suggest that we listen to another actor, I admit that it will be easier on everyone to go with the popular pick. Download the 17 March 1950 broadcast from the Escape and Suspense! blog or the Internet Archive, or listen to it on Podbay, Relic Radio or YouTube.

And have a blessed All Souls' Day while you're at it! =)


love the girls said...

This play is an interesting twist on the alway cruel stepmother because of the addition of the overtly attractive wife eating the children. Women make good monsters because they have a depth to their cruelty that men don't possess.

And unlike the princess Snow White, the peasant children can't talk their way out of their fate begging for mercy because they're up against a woman and not a man.

Enbrethiliel said...


I have long thought of the witch in Hansel and Gretel as a kind of shadow side of the stepmother. Which makes the children's harrowing adventure in the woods a symbolic representation of their relationship with their father's new wife. And it almost ends with cannibalism as well!

If faerie tales expose a depth of cruelty in women, what do they expose in men?

love the girls said...

Miss E. writes : "If faerie tales expose a depth of cruelty in women, what do they expose in men"

They expose in men vacillation, and blindness. A weakness of purpose to do one's duty to one's own flesh and blood.

The opposite vice of the natural virtues are exposed in story showing the evil that results.

Women are by nature maternal, but yet the only step mother I knew of growing up married into a family of 6 children in my neighborhood bringing her one son with her.

The one son was spoiled rotten while the father, a very successful MD let his own children be treated like dirt.

Even as a child it was more than obvious what was occurring and why.

love the girls said...

I should add, the mother died of a lingering illness, and the step mother was in the house in less than a month after the funeral.

Paul Stilwell said...

I remember my aunt-in-name telling me about how she and her husband had her husband's brother and his wife live in their home for a while until they were able to find another place to live. She told me how the two husbands got along roaringly, but the two wives...er, very quickly the proverbial s@*# hit the fan.

It doesn't have much to do with this post or your comments or LTG's comments - until one thinks of how the former wife still "lives on" so to speak in her children.

Enbrethiliel said...


LTG -- A friend at work was just telling me about her own horrible stepmother. The woman mistreated her new husband's seven children and elevated her own daughter to the status of princess. And worthy of her faerie tale counterparts, she once served her stepchildren cabbage soup for Christmas dinner. (For context: the father was close to being a millionaire, so it wasn't as if they didn't have enough in the pantry.)

Stilwell -- It's always interesting to see how parents live on in their children. =)

Brandon said...

The ending definitely is abrupt; you would expect it at least to come back to Hermann, but it doesn't.

I think I would play contrarian on this one, and take the white wolf to have less to say about women and more to say about Krantz, who clearly has destructively bad taste in women. (I notice that the radio version while hinting at the story, does not explicitly say that he killed his first wife, only 'his noble lord'.) Pursuing surface appearances, he then ends up horrified when the true nature rises to the surface, and tries to destroy it and run away from it; but since the real problem is himself, he can't.

Enbrethiliel said...


Krantz is definitely culpable as well! He basically sells his soul to malignant spirits for sex. It's no surprise that he dies of brain fever in the end, indicating that his problem was always within him and not imposed from without.