The Role Of Fear In Lovecraft's Short Stories

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1. Fear
1.1. What is fear?

To understand how Lovecraft´s short stories have their characters react as they do in the face of danger and how they can induce fear in the reader in certain cases one has to understand at first what fear is and why it appears.
Fear is an instinctive emotion of all animals, yet it differs in its appearance and consequences in animals and humans (Overstreet, 16). Most animals only sense fear when in real danger and mostly react with the appropriate instinct of fight and flight. To see that one can simply look at a deer. The moment it senses something dangerous, something out of the ordinary, it flees to a safer place without giving it a second thought. In animals, fear is just a tool of survival (Overstreet, 17). But fear in humans is far more complex because we don´t always perceive fear as it is. It can disguise itself as courage (e.g. fighting against a bear), ambition (e.g. striving for a goal to escape a current situation), prejudice (e.g. hating minorities due to lack of information), illness (e.g. headache before a big event) etc. which leads to us either not doing things we want to do
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This fear is and will always be present in all stories of the human race simply due to our psyche. In literature, we can express those feelings towards the unknown easily and think about their consequences relatively freely. And these thoughts developed into their own genre of literature that, like any other genre, developed over time, from the prose of the antiquity to the Nordic myths to Edgar Allan Poe´s short stories (Lovecraft, 1927) and to today with authors like Stephen King or Neil Gaiman representing the current development of horror
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