The enormous spider, as well as the unnaturally large cobra that sprung upon another young wizard in the classroom exercise, highlights the definition of the word "monster" and how yesterday's Hen-of-the-Woods fits with it. When looking at what makes something monstrous, the object seen violates our sense of proportion cultivated through personal experiences and/or social expectations.
|Gulliver Exhibited to the Brobdingnag Farmer by Richard Redgrave. Thanks to Wikipedia.|
|Comic book cover by Lilian Chesney. Thanks to Wikipedia.|
Of course, physical appearance plays only one part of a traveler's disorientation when encountering a new environment and its people. Behavior, speech, clothing, eating preferences, hygiene -- these are some of the other factors that contribute to the confusion and lack of reference points that can cause a traveler to sense as though he or she has landed in a land filled with monsters. I wonder if that mushroom felt the same when he or she arrived in Florence.