Seminar: Literary Theory Applied to H.P. Lovecraft-Notably “the Beast in the Cave”

6805 words 28 pages
Buena VistA university | A Theoretical Analysis of H.P. Lovecraft’s “Beast in the Cave” | Senior Seminar | | Cory J. Dahlstrom | 7/28/2012 |

H.P. Lovecraft has been called “one of the best, worst authors of our century.” In the following paper, I will explore his earliest work, “The Beast in the Cave,” a story written when he was around fifteen years old. I will explore its meanings and context through the lenses of reader response, deconstructionism, new historicism, and psychoanalytic analysis. Through these lenses of literary theory I hope to derive further meaning and understanding of this favored story as well as dismiss some criticism that has been leveled against H.P. Lovecraft. Each
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Often suffering from night terrors and frequent illnesses, many of them psychological, his attendance at school was sporadic, but his interest in learning was fueled by independent reading. At about the age of eight he discovered chemistry and astronomy and not long after sought ways of combining his interest in science with his love of writing.
In 1904 Lovecraft’s grandfather died, and the subsequent mismanagement of his estate forced Howard and his mother to move out into less opulent housing, which crushed his anachronistic pretention of Victorian prestige. In 1908, prior to attaining his high school diploma, he suffered a nervous breakdown and quit school. This decision and his consequent failure to enter Brown University later became great shame to Lovecraft in later years, in spite of being a formidable autodidact.
Again in 1919, his life was changed when his mother, her mental and physical condition deteriorating, was admitted to Butler Hospital, whence, like her husband, would not emerge. Her battered mental state is yet another testament to untreated syphilis in both elder Lovecraft. She later died from a gall bladder operation in May 1921.
In his adulthood, Lovecraft had taken to reading the early “pulp” magazines of the day, and began writing opinion pieces. A pulp magazine founded in 1923, Weird Tales, provided Lovecraft a means of professional writing after the publisher had accepted several of his