The earliest known written story-- The Epic of Gilgamesh
This story tells of how the kingdom of Uruk has fallen under the terrible shadow of a great and mysterious evil. The source of the threat is traced to a monstrous figure, Humbaba, who lives half across the world, at the heart of a remote forest.
The hero, Gilgamesh, goes to the armorers who equip him with special weapons, a great bow and a mighty axe. He sets out on a long, hazardous journey to Humbaba's distant lair, where he finally comes face to face with the monster. They enjoy a series of taunting exchanges, then embark on a titanic struggle.
Against such supernatural powers, it seems Gilgamesh cannot possibly win. But finally, by a superhuman feat, he manages to kill his monstrous opponent. The shadowy threat has been lifted. Gilgamesh has saved his kingdom and can return home triumphant.
OVERCOMING THE MONSTER
The essence of 'Overcoming the Monster' story is simple. Both we and the hero are made aware of the existence of some superhuman embodiment of evil power. This monster make take human form (e.g., a giant or a witch); the form of an animal (a wolf, a dragon, a shark); or a combination of both (the Minotaur, the Sphinx).
It is always deadly, threatening destruction to those who cross its path or fall into its clutches. Often it is threatening an entire community or kingdom, even mankind and the world in general. But the monster often also has in its clutches some great prize, a priceless treasure or a beautiful 'Princess'.
A Few Examples
King Kong, Count Dracula, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Bean Stalk, Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Beowulf, St. George, Frankenstein, The War of the Worlds.
The story is likely to run through five stages:
1. Anticipation Stage and "Call"-we usually become aware of the monster as if from a great distance, then gradually learn of its fearsome powers, and how it casts its threatening shadow over some community, country, kingdom or mankind. The hero then gets a "Call" to confront it.
2. Dream Stage-As the hero makes preparation for the battle to come (e.g., as he travels towards the monster), things seem to go well.
3. Frustration Stage-At last we come face to face with the monster. The hero seems tiny and alone against such a supernaturally stone opponent. He may slip into the monster's power.
4. Nightmare Stage-The final ordeal begins, a nightmare battle in which all the odds are loaded on the monster's side. But at the climax of the story, just when all seems lost, comes the 'reversal'.
5. The Thrilling Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster-In the nick of time, the monster is miraculously dealt a fatal blow. The dark power is overthrown. The community which had fallen under its shadow is liberated. The hero emerges in his full stature to enjoy the prize he has won from the monster's grasp: a great treasure, union with the 'Princess'; succession to some kind of 'kingdom.'