The legendary Kraken destroys a ship.

A Kraken is a mythical sea monster that originated in Icelandic and Norwegian folklore. It is believed that the Kraken is of monstrous proportions and can easily destroy ships and sailors. The Kraken lives at the bottom of the sea in Nordic waters and becomes disturbed by passing vessels. The giant squid is said to be the closest legitimate account that best represents the basis of this fictitious creature.

The Kraken has been displayed as a horrific, merciless creature in numerous fictional works.

Etymology Edit

The English word kraken is derived from the Norwegian word krake [1]. The word krake can, in modern German, refer to a giant octopus or the mythical sea monster itself [2]. Taken from the Norwegian root word, krake means morbid or lean animal [3].

Folk History Edit

The first mention of the Kraken was in the 13th century Icelandic saga entitled Örvar-Oddr. In this story, there are two monsters, the Hafgufa and the Lyngbakr, in which the Hafgufa represents a creature comparable to what is known as the modern day legend of the Kraken [4]. Shortly there after, a Norwegian piece of literature began to circulate, claiming to describe accurate details of the Kraken’s lifecycle and its eating habits. This was called the Konungs Skuggsja; it highly publicized the creature, allowing its legend to continue to grow.

According to these legends, the Kraken lives in the depths of the seas off the coast of Norway and is believed to cause whirlpools that trap sailors when it becomes disturbed [4].

Other scientific and biological works were published in the following hundred years, including the Systema Naturae [5]. These works were published and often perpetrated the legend. Because the Kraken is described with many of the same characteristics as the giant squid, such as living in deep waters and being rarely seen by humans, it is believed that the legend originated from a sighting of this creature [6].

In 1830, the first publication containing the poem "The Kraken" was released. The poem by Alfred Tennyson described a sea-dwelling creature that slept at the bottom of the ocean. It helped influenced other writers describe similar creatures in different texts [7]. For example, the giant squid in Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Jules Verne's creature in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea were both influenced by the previous descriptions of the monster.

Sightings Edit

Sailors have shared their personal experiences and sightings of the Kraken with each other for thousands years. These supposed sightings contributed to the popular legend of the Kraken. Since ancient times, there have been many descriptions of giant squid and suggestions that they have been mistaken for sea serpents and sea monks. One of the earlier recordings of a Kraken sighting occurred in 1680 when a Kraken became stuck in the rocks on the Norwegian shore. Then, from 1870-1880, numerous squid washed up on the shore of Newfoundland and within this decade it is believed that a minister and a young boy were attacked by a giant squid. Another incident occurred in 1875 when a sperm whale was spotted with a tentacle wrapped around it until it was pulled beneath the surface[8]. More recently, Edie Widder was able to capture footage of a giant squid swimming in the ocean in 2012[9].

List of Texts/Media Edit

The Kraken has appeared in many films and books since the 13th century when it was first introduced.

Notably, however, it was used multiple times in The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It first appears in the second movie of the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and later reappears in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End [10]. Within the films, the Kraken is depicted as an antagonist that is constantly attacking the ships of the pirates by stealthy wrapping its tentacles around the ship, crushing it in half, and then dragging it and all aboard the vessel underwater. The Kraken is shown as a ruthless creature that leaves few survivors, and those that do survive are often psychologically damaged [11].

George R.R. Martin’s saga A Song of Fire and Ice uses the depiction of a Kraken as the House of Gregjoy’s symbol. This element of the book was also carried over into the television adaption of the saga, Games of Thrones [12]. The picture mirrors aspects similar to that of a giant squid.

Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea also contains references to the monster [13]. In this text, the giant squid attacks the Nautilus that the characters are traveling on, killing a crew member [14]. Again, the Kraken is depicted in a negative light and as an enemy.

In both the 1981 and 2010 adaptations of Clash of the Titans, the Kraken is featured as the tool of destruction to punish the people of Argos. In the 1981 version, it is Poseidon who controls the Kraken as opposed to Hades in the 2010 adaptation. In both versions, however, it is Zeus that gives the order to "release the Kraken!"[15][16]

References Edit

  1. "Krake." The Free Dictionary. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  2. Terrell, Peter. Collins German-English Dictionary. 5th ed. Glasgow: HarperCollins, 2004. Print.
  3. "Bokmålsordboka." Bokmålsordboka. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Legendary Kraken." Ancient Origins. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  5. Linnaei, Carolin. Systema Naturae: Regnum Animale. London: Printed by Order of the Trustees, British Museum (Natural History), 1956. Print.
  6. Jardine, William. "The Kraken." The Naturalist's Library. Edinburgh: W.H. Lizars, 1839. 327-336. Print.
  7. ""The Kraken" (1830)." The Victorian Web. 11 Jan. 2005. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  8. History of Sightings. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
  9. The Kraken Is Real: Scientist Films First Footage Of A Giant Squid. NPR, 13 Jan. 2013. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
  10. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." IMDb. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  11. Murray, Rebecca. "Behind the Scenes of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" Movies." About Entertainment. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  12. "A Game of Thrones • A Song of Ice and Fire NWN2 Persistent World • Low Magic Role Play." House Greyjoy. 18 July 2008. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  13. Lampe, Christine. "Ello Beastie." The Book of Pirates. Gibbs Smith, 2010. 213-216. Print.
  14. Verne, Jules. "Read Annotated Extracts." 20,000 Leagues under the Seas. 2001. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
  15. Clash of the Titans. Dir. Travis Beacham. Warner Home Video, 2010. DVD.
  16. Clash of the Titans. Dir. Desmond Davis. MGM/UA, 1981. DVD.