Throughout Folklore worldwide there is a great diversity of monsters, but one seems to link them all: the Boogeyman. His stories have been passed down for generations, mainly to keep children from disobeying their parents. The boogeyman is a feared monster by all generations, but is it so feared or prominent in today’s new age, new technological era? The boogeyman is the oldest monster in our history. It has no specific appearance, and conceptions vary drastically by household and culture, but is commonly depicted as a monster that punishes children for misbehavior.
Nowadays we are afraid of Pennywise or Sinister, admire vampires, zombies and witches. But did you know that all of these monsters are the representation of boogeyman? Of course, they’ve changed their shapes, some special characteristics were added, but all of them are used to represent fear of unknown, unconscious mind, the consequences of disobeying, cultural differences. In mythology and folklore we could see boogeyman appearing in different places and in variety of shapes.
Josepha Sherman in his book examines the monsters from different cultures, each of them comes in variety of shapes and but still have same cultural meanings. Sherman states: The specific folklore character called Baba Yaga was a bony, seemingly ancient woman with iron teeth and an abnormally long nose. She also was called Baba Yaga Bony Legs, because of her thinness and endless hunger, often for human flesh. Baba Yaga lived in a hut deep within the dense forest. However, Baba Yaga seemed to admire the bold and did not harm the pure of heart.(Sherman 47)So, this character stands as a warning against exploration of its uncertain demenses and at the same time it punishes evil minds and saves pure hearts. There’s another monster that Sherman tells us about: baku, or dream eaters. There does not seem to be any hard and fast rule about a baku’s appearance. Whatever their appearance might be, from the weird to the almost comical, all baku play the same role: They help people by eating the evil spirits that cause nightmares. (Sherman 49). These creatures help to fight evil souls, as does Baba Yaga, and as does the boogeyman punish bad children. Moreover, even mythical creatures such as dragons and mummys are also having something in common with boogeyman. Chris McNab analyzes the most well-known monsters and gives us their characteristics. Despite being found in different locations and stories, they still had common characteristics: no particular shape, stood as a warning, fearing people of unknown, and finally, they punished people who disobeyed or misbehaved. (McNab 17-20). Overall, in mythology and folklore of different countries we see monsters of various shapes, but all of them still have common features with boogeyman, which leads us to thing about the boogeyman being served as a template for other monsters. But does boogeyman still have his hand on the world of horror nowadays?In Stephen King’s short story The Boogeyman Lester Billings, the father of three children is talking to a therapist. His first two children have mysteriously died, but both of them had cried boogeyman right before their death. After Lester had his third son, one night the son screamed and Lester saw that the boogeyman was killing his son, but instead of helping he ran away and when he returned his son was already dead. When Lester leaves the therapy session, he sees that the therapist is actually the boogeyman. To my mind, the ending brings the reader to an idea that suppressed anxieties and frustrations create these hidden boogeymen that are able to scare ourselves as well as others. Perhaps the doctor simply wears the mask of the boogeyman in the end, as a representative of Lester’s personal internal conflict: The boogeymanThe boogeyman killed them all. Just came out of the closet and killed them.(King 2). The boogeyman lives in our subconscious mind, it lives in children’s minds, in their fantasy. This creature represents many things: anger, fear and paranoia. This story shows readers that adults also get scared and believe that there is something in the closet, under the bed or down in the basement: it is fear of the unknown and the superstitions. But what if I say that the boogeyman actually existed? In the early 1900s, large number of unfortunate children found that out after meeting Albert Fish. Harold Schechter in his book The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers writes: He looked like a meek and innocuous man, little and benevolent. Friendly and polite. If you wanted someone to entrust your children to, he would be the one you would choose. (Schechter 9). This speaks volumes to the manipulative and psychotic manner of this killer. He could get away with his crimes because of his twisted mind. To my mind, Stephen King’s Lester Billings and Albert Fish have something in common: they both have hidden dark side of their personality, which they couldn’t manage to control. These examples not only show that old stories about boogeyman still may be applied in today’s society, but also that boogeyman is not just a monster that exists in your closet or under bed, it’s real, and may be hiding deep down in your mind.