Okay, so you know how in most things, the second the werewolf turns, they’re this crazy slavering “I WANT TO EAT EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD” monster? And some of them are even very, very, very, alarmingly, shockingly… well… stupid?
Stupid as in unintelligent, as in they have lost all sense of higher thought and even good mental coordination (like, say, even as much as a normal animal has?), to the point of barreling around and easily allowing someone to– okay, we’re changing topics here back to my pet peeves, let’s stay on course.
So, anyway, in legend, guess what? You got it – they aren’t like that. Werewolves are smart. In virtually every single situation, werewolves retain their human intelligence when transformed. That is part of the curse and part of what makes them so terrifying.
Do they get mad sometimes, fly into rages (i.e., berserkers)? Yeah. Does that make them stupid? No.
Even in the legends wherein someone loses control, they are still intelligent, and beyond the intelligence of an animal.So let’s stop having pop culture werewolves swallow live grenades for absolutely no reason other than being a blithering moron, shall we?
In fact, pretty frequently, being a werewolf was meant as a test of one’s humanity. The person had urges, but enough intelligence and control and enough self to be able to control those violent urges if they had the will, like the werewolves of Arcadia. Again – did this make them stupid? No.
And of course, plenty of them actually maintain full and constant control (no struggle at all) in werewolf form, too.
There are a good helping of legends wherein a werewolf maintains perfect control over themselves even in werewolf form. Take the lai “Bisclavret” by Marie de France, one of my favorite (probably my all-time favorite) werewolf stories. The werewolf Bisclavret is such a chivalrous knight that he behaves as a well-mannered gentleman even when in the form of a wolf. And many other medieval legends and tales include werewolves that retain full control, such as the story of Guillaume de Palerme.
Some of these werewolves can also speak while in werewolf form. The story of the werewolves of Ossory is just one example. True, that’s much rarer than them being unable to speak, but it’s worth a mention.
(As a final note, I’m totally guilty of writing the big, angry, emotionally driven werewolves [including the kind that just want to eat everything and everyone]. I’m not knocking those. I love them! But even if they’re driven by uninhibited emotions and primal desires/urges and violence, that doesn’t make them unintelligent.)