Monday, February 15, 2010

Dragons Anyone?

Dragons.  When someone thinks about that word, that species people immediately think of fantasy.  Dragons seem to be one of the hugest things that fantasy books have in common.  Let's take a few of the most prominent fantasy books popular today and in the past.  JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings which we all know in love, uses dragons relatively small amounts of times, but when he did use dragons, such as in The Hobbit they play a major role.  So we can check that one off as a yes, they do have dragons.
Next, the Inheritance series, one of the biggest secular fantasy series out there right now, uses dragons.  The entire idea is crafted around dragons.  So, obviously we can check this one off as a yes, they do have dragons.
Now, let's move to one from the Christian YA Fantasy genre.  For this example I'll use a series that is probably the most obvious of all these... Dragons in Our Midst series.  This series is about the sons and daughters of dragons that were turned into humans and regular humans.  So as the title suggests, this series passes off as a yes, they do have dragons.
There are many more examples, but that would take a while.  So, now to the point of this post  Why are dragons such a huge player in fantasy genres?  Is it because the readers just absolutely love dragons?  I think that's part of the reason, but I don't think that alone is the reason.  Could it be that dragons are the fantasy genre?  As in, they brought it up, they were the reason people liked it.  Well, no.  Going on the basis that mythology, in a way, was the original fantasy theory/thingy (which is another whole post worth of discussion) than dragons did play a big role in bringing up fantasy, since a lot of the myths were based of dragons and serpents and stuff(you can tell I'm not well read in my Greek mythology).  But while they were a major role in bringing it up, dragons did not bring up the fantasy genre.
So, while they're many other things that could be the reason, I think that it is much deeper, Biblical even.  Why Biblical I'm sure you're wondering.  Well, it's hard to say I think, especially since this theory is just came to me.  But if you look back at Scripture, satan was many times portrayed as a dragon.  And while I'm not sure this directly influences our view of dragons and while they're major in fantasy, it does cause some speculation, which is what I'm doing.  I think that since the original 'bad guy' was portrayed as a dragon, us authors, trying to be like the original Author, like to make dragons simply because they have a natural evil feel to them.
Now, where that idea is just completely obliterated is because many authors such as Paolini and Bryan Davis portray their dragons as very good species, in a way, the hero of the story.  But I think this theory still deserves more thought.  I'm going to think on that and possibly do another post later on about that theory.


Chris said...

I think mankind has always been fascinated with dragons. It's a mythology that belongs to every major civilization, and, strangely enough, those mythologies have grown up by themselves with no influence by other cultures. Dragons are mysterious, fascinating creatures.

I actually think they once existed. They were dinosaurs, though, and ended when the other dinos did. There's biblical evidence to back me up, but I'm sure you've already seen that passage in Job.

Satan was portrayed as several beasts, but just because he was doesn't mean those beasts were inherently evil. Most predominantly in the Bible, Satan is shown as a lion. However, this doesn't make lions evil, because things like The Lion of Judah exist.

Good post. :)

Seth said...

Actually, I haven't read that passage in Job, but I've heard of it. I also think that dragons existed in the past, but I'm a little skeptical about it.

Barie-ah Hue-en-la said...

I recall that passage in Job . . . sorta ;)

I have always found it rather odd how frequantly dragons appear in Christian books. Though I do hate the idea of talking dragons . . urgh. It's just so . . . cheesy. Dragons are cool but if you give them speech, that's taking it too far. lol.

Anonymous said...

I think that dragons are a large part of the genre for the fascination of beast now seen now. Same with a mortwraith, or with a hobit. They are things we long to see/experience once we taste of the coolness factor. Personally I don't agree with drawing the line with Satan being the dragon, I could more swallow him being the serpent. But it is not a point to belabor. And interesting idea my friend.


Nathan R. Petrie said...

Yeah I was going to say everything Chris said. ::stamps foot:: He always beats me to it :P

I too think they existed. They're fascinating, and since Fantasy is all a bunch of "what if" stories, we write of the things that make us wonder the most.

The bible passage was Job 41. Read through it. It's not your typical dragon though.

Barie, what's cheesy about it? It's like giving anything else speech. Except dragons are typically portrayed as intelligent creatures. You're not a huge fantasy fan are you? LOL

Also with the Satan=Dragon thing. There is a lot of biblical talk of that. In Isaiah something or another, the other time the Leviathan is mentioned, it talks about how God will, in the end times, slay the serpent that is in the sea. Fantasy, dragonic at least, was boycotted by the church for the longest while 'cause of dragons. I actually had a teacher come up to me last year, when I was re-reading Raising Dragons, and asked me:

"As strong as your Christian Beliefs your parents know you are reading this?"

I was kinda confused. "This is Christian fantasy."

The teacher was shocked, taken aback really. "with DRAGONS."

::shrugs:: That's some randomness for ya

Scott Appleton said...

I've been seeing so much about this that I did a post about it on my blog.

I'd like to add that the Bible specifically mentions a winged, flying, fire-breathing serpent....and is that hard to believe? God created many creatures that have been killed off by man. And consider the Bombadier Beetle IT BREATHS FIRE and is still alive today! We serve an amazing God. Let's not underestimate him.

Anonymous said...

My theory is that the dragon was the serpent BEFORE the curse. After Satan inhabited it and tempted Eve, God cursed the beast more crafty than any other, condemning it to crawl on its belly. No legs. No wings.

It's total speculation, but as others have noted, there are descriptions or references to a creature that fits the accepted idea of what a dragon was. Except the sea part. But then there are lots of stories about sea serpents. Why couldn't those be related to dragons?

So fun to speculate.


Wayne Leeke said...

"As for symbolism: evil may take the shape of many things, becuase many things are able to cause evil. One could say man is evil becuase the devil can take the shape of man. However, GOD can take the shape of man as well. Evil acts through the shape of what ever suites its purpose. Goodness acts through what ever shape that can defeat evil. "

That is what I think about Dragons being evil.