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

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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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But without a doubt, this story, though simplistic in its plot and scare factor, has potential thought value that can be critiqued and analyzed. Perhaps, my own background of cave spelunking seated a more powerful attachment to this particular story, but before I explore the reader response theories of “The Beast in the Cave,” let me give you some background about the author taken from the brief biography by Joshi, renowned as the foremost historian of Lovecraft.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890 to Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft and Winfield Scott Lovecraft in Providence, Rhode Island. Winfield Lovecraft was a traveling salesman for Gorham & Co., Silversmiths. During one of his business trips, Winfield suffered from what has been described as a psychiatric fit in a Chicago hotel room and was later committed to Butler Hospital and was reported to be paralyzed and comatose during his last five years of life from evidence that Winfield died of paresis, a form of neurosyphilis.
Howard Lovecraft’s upbringing then befell his widowed mother, two aunts, and his grandfather, an industrialist and heir of prominent lineage. Lovecraft, who had troubles in school, received must of education from the form of old books he had access to in his grandfather’s lavish Victorian home. Growing up, his earliest enthusiasm was for the Arabian Nights that he adapted the pseudonym of “Abdul Alhazred,” who authored the mythical book of the dead, the

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