Does anyone have any examples -- either that you've come up with yourself, or that you've seen portrayed in a book or movie -- of situations where a monster in fantasy is symbolic of something philosophical or psychological? Both the monster itself, and the way that the characters kill/defeat it. I'm working on a novel that's primarily sci-fi, but the section/sequence I'm working on now is more like fantasy in terms of the freedom I have to create whatever kinds of creatures I want. I'm in a part where my characters are on a brief journey through a forest and a river, and I have maybe 2-3 chapters to explore the types of creatures and encounters they will have there. I want my creatures/monsters to be more than just random creepy stuff that I create - I want them to have meaning too, both in terms of what they are and how the characters handle them. I don't mean trope monsters like zombies and vampires and werewolves, but monsters that are unique to the story they're in. The examples that currently come to my mind are: --The Babadook: both what the monster represents, and the psychological symbolism of how they deal with it at the end (I don't want to give spoilers for anyone) --the Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth (representative of the fascist villain, Captain Vidal) -- The frog in Pan's Labyrinth is representative of the destructive power of corruption -- All of the fear-trials in Divergent are symbolic of facing your own inner fears (i.e. a situation where you have to break out of a glass cage represents having to break down the internal barriers of fear that you limit yourself with) I'm looking for things that could be found in either a forest/river situation - monsters that are "organic" as opposed to something robotic/mechanical or spiritual/"demon-like." Would love to bounce and discuss more ideas!