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|This article details one of the creatures of the Monster High franchise and does so in relation to the real-world context of that creature. There is a likelihood that this article contains material not suited for young people.|
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Simulacra are all manner of artificial beings imaginable. They are a popular appearance in a wide spectrum of fiction, being as common to fantasy and science fiction as they are to the horror genre.
This article has the following simulacrum types split off into their own articles:
The word "simulacrum" is Latin in origin, and means "image" or "likeness". It may be recognizable as the inspiration of the English words "similar" and "simulate". "Simulacrum" has been in use in several European languages since the late sixteenth century to refer to anything that is a depiction or mimicry of another thing. For example, (non-manipulated) photos are simulacra by definition because they always are a depiction of something else, but the likes of paintings and statues can be an original design and thus they aren't necessarily simulacra.
Though the philosophical considerations of what role a copy plays in reality predate the sixteenth century, when the word "simulacrum" came into use in Europe, it was a neutral word. This had changed by the nineteenth century, when the word "simulacrum" was associated with fakeness and inferiority.
It is unknown when "simulacrum" was first applied to any artificial being, but one would assume it to have done so not too long after the term's introduction. Interestingly, around the time "simulacrum" obtained its negative connotations, a shift in role occurred for artificial beings. Whereas prior to the nineteenth century simulacra were either willing servants or loyal spouses, starting the nineteenth century stories about simulacra who are unhappy with their lower lot in life and oftentimes strive to become "human" appeared at an increasing frequency.
An alternative term for artificial beings is androids, though the latter word is more often thought to apply only to mechanical simulacra. Also, "android" is Ancient Greek and translates to "likeness of a man", meaning it fails as a word to describe those simulacra who are female, non-humanoid, or both.
Simulacra in reality
An important theme in religion and (ancient) people's worldview are the stories of how everything and in particular humans came to be. While these stories are fiction, they had and have a profound effect on the way humans looked and look at themselves.
Most religions feature one or more primary gods who either have always been or at one point came forth from some pre-existence chaos. These gods, in turn, created everything else. A common theme in these creation myths is that the gods created humans from non-living material, often mud, clay, or wood. As such, humans of many cultures viewed themselves as inherently artificial beings to the gods, who were inherently natural beings. This idea also played a large role in human acceptance that the gods were their superiors and should be obeyed and appeased to. Depending on the details of the religion, the idea of artificiality was also used to explain and justify hierarchy among humans, such as that the upper class, (wo)men, or relevant race/nationality consisted of humans made from better materials, formed with greater care, or created first.
Also depending on the religion was the tolerance for humans taking the role as creators of other creatures. For instance, the golems of Jewish mythology were not always appreciated, and the homunculi were largely seen by the Islamic and Christian religions as a product of magic and therefor of evil.
Simulacra in fiction
Though the idea of simulacra as characters didn't take flight until the nineteenth century, artificial beings are many centuries older. Since they also are a rather varied bunch, a prudent start to detailing their role in fiction is to collect which ones there are in the first place. The below list attempts to give as accurate an overview by year as possible, which is severely limited by the fact that some stories are clearly way older than the year in which they were first written down.
Also something to keep in mind, the list only concerns itself with the actual simulacra. For instance, there are many living dolls in fairy tales, but most are enchanted humans or the form through which a deity or fairy interacts with their protege. Those aren't simulacra, so not considered in the list.
- Ushabtis (ca. 1900 BCE) - Mass-produced Ancient Egyptian burial statues that were thought to become animated to do afterlife work for the deceased.
- Automata (ca. 800 BCE) - Autonomous metal statues created by the Ancient Greek god Hephaistos to perform a variety of tasks.
- Terracotta Army (3rd century BCE) - A huge army of terracotta made to protect and serve Qin Shi Huang, China's first emperor, after his death.
- Galatea (prior to 8 CE) - An ivory statue created by Pygmalion and brought to life by the gods to be his wife.
- Homunculi (prior to 50 CE) - Miniature humanoid servants that could be created in a variety of ways and from a variety of materials.
- Golems (prior to 2nd century) - Servant clay statues made by the Jewish rabbis in mimicry of God's creation of humans.
- Simigdáli/Pintosmalto (prior to 1634) - A multi-material statue created by a high class girl and brought to life by God to be her husband.
- Monsters of Frankenstein (1818) - Creatures made from body parts of deceased people to advance scientific understanding of life.
- Thumbelina (1835) - A miniature girl who was made by a witch and given as daughter to a childless woman. Thumbelina later earns wings and becomes a fairy.
- Living scarecrows (1852) - Early living scarecrows were kind-hearted servants. They've since become mostly villains who work together as well as alone.
- Living dolls (prior to 1855) - Early living dolls were loyal servants if treated well. They've since become mostly single operating villains.
- Gingerbread Man (1875) - A gingerbread man who tried to avoid being eaten, but grew too confident.
- Snowflake (prior to 1882) - A living snow girl made as a childless couple's daughter. Snowflake does not survive next spring.
- Pinocchio (1883) - A living puppet made from a sapient block of wood. Pinocchio later becomes a human boy.
- Mechanical robot (1907) - Living machines usually cast in stories that bring up the question how much autonomy is required to be considered "human".
- Robots R.U.R.-type (1920) - Synthetic organic creatures made to serve mankind. They eventually rebel and inherit Earth from the humans.
- Neutrino-based life (1961) - Creatures made from the memories of humans, but with independent thought.
- Living grotesques/gargoyles (1971) - Stone statues brought to life to function as guardians.
- Living holograms (1985) - Creatures of light usually generated by computer, which hosts the personalities.
Simulacra in Monster High
The Monster High simulacra are Frankie Stein, her parents, Watzit, Hoodude Voodoo, gingerbread boy, Robecca Steam, and Captain Penny. It is likely, though not confirmed that the De Nile servants are simulacra, and the same goes for the Tiki. How Rochelle Goyle, and Rockseena came into being is unknown and thus their status as simulacra is uncertain. However, it can be assumed that living gargoyles are simply present, rather than being directly brought to life.
Though uncertain if it can be classified as a gargoyle one of the gargoyle statues was brought to life by Abbey in "Fright On!".
- A lot of backgrounders could be simulacra, representing a wide range of additional simulacrum types. Volume 1 introduced two robot boys and a scarecrow boy, and Volume 2 a girl who possibly is a living ice or glass sculpture and a boy who possibly is a living statue.
- The cast of Ever After High comprises mainly simulacra.