According to Stacey L. Hahn, in the plot motif of the knight errant and the royal maiden, “the maidens initiate the adventures and the knights must undergo a series of tests to attain them.”1 Gareth Edward’s Monsters (2010) follows this plot motif. Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is the knight errant, while Sam Wynden (Whitney Able) is the royal maiden.
Andrew is the knight errant in search of adventure. However, instead of slaying dragons with a sword, he photographs alien creatures. Although he does not want to at first, he agrees to an adventure: escorting Sam, the boss’s daughter, to the coast so she can return home.
Sam is the royal maiden. The daughter of a rich man who owns a national magazine, she has fled to San Jose, possibly to re-consider her wedding engagement. Sam is not only a royal maiden, but also a damsel in emotional and physical distress. Her injury “initiates” the adventure that she will share with Andrew.
As knight errant, Andrew must undergo a series of tests to win the heart of the maiden. At first, he is an incompetent knight, losing their passports, and Sam comes to his rescue, selling her engagement ring. Although Andrew fails in his first test, he is given another chance to prove himself. When the armed guards are killed by one of the creatures, he must guide Sam to safety without any weapons to protect them.
The journey changes Andrew: from selfish photographer to selfless knight. He is gallant and kind, e.g., replacing Sam’s bandages, kissing her hand, and standing guard while she sleeps. Sam looks to her knight for guidance, asking him, “Are you sure about this?” and she follows his lead when he tells her, “Let’s get back on the boat.” When a creature attacks the armed guards, Sam cries in terror and fear, but Andrew holds her and comforts her.
The romance between Andrew and Sam reinforces traditional male-female gender roles. As a damsel in distress, Sam needs a man to guide and protect her. Emotionally fragile and broken, she is attracted to Andrew because he is her opposite: emotionally stable and decisive. In the final scene, when their adventure is over, the royal maiden rewards her knight errant with a kiss.
- Stacey L. Hahn, “The Motif of the Errant Knight and the Royal Maiden in the Prose ‘Lancelot’,” Arthurian Interpretations 3, no. 1 (Fall 1988): 11, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27868646