H. P. Lovecraft's Symbols of Indifference: A Combined Critical ApproachŠtefan Hadalin
, 2021, master's thesis
Abstract: H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) is an author who has in the decades since his death survived in the minds of millions of readers, mostly due to the power of his works of weird fiction and the resulting emergence of what he dubbed Cosmic Horror, conveyed through the symbolism and philosophy found in his Cthulhu Mythos. His antiquated style of writing that has since inspired many is at the same time a treasure trove of symbols, which have been interpreted and re-interpreted many times, but mostly as a whole aspect of his writing, with individual symbols not given the attention they deserve. The concepts and themes they convey are largely intertwined in a pattern of meanings and partial overlaps, making them hard to be differentiated fully from one another. However, outside of that, the meanings of the symbols can be established relatively clearly, with some of the main thematic connections between theme and meaning of an individual symbol standing out clearly above other thematic connections.
Since the interpretation of the meaning of a symbol is partially based on the approach used, a combined approach that examines the symbols from the points of view of classic Lovecraftian scholars like S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, C.G. Jung’s theories of archetypes and the unconscious, Campbell’s monomyth, and a dose of reader-response style criticism is possible, with the intention of determining the effect of different critical approaches on the meaning of symbols and the thematic connections that are in this process established between both groups. The connections that are established are as interconnected as the themes themselves, but a differentiation between stronger and weaker connections, determining the main thematic connection to the symbol’s meaning is possible. “The Call of Cthulhu” is as the first great story of Lovecraft’s later writing period a useful text, that can be reduced to symbols, a number of which can be used for the purposes of determining the nature of the aforementioned connections.
Lovecraft’s symbols considered as individual elements with a variety of aspects and the interplay between themes and meaning is then another way to study the meanings of the texts as a whole, through the lens of associated meanings determined through differing approaches. The main themes of knowledge and cosmic indifference always shine through, but the meanings of the symbols are built in various ways through various approaches, still arriving at roughly the same thematic connections, which can through the study of this process lead to a different appreciation for the masterful manipulation of stylistic, symbolic and atmospheric elements Lovecraft’s tales represent.
Keywords: H.P. Lovecraft, Call of Cthulhu, Symbols, Reader-Response, Combined Approach
Published in DKUM: 09.08.2021; Views: 4708; Downloads: 83
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