Fear In Lovecraft 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).
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One of those is suicide as a flight from reality, one is “shadow boxing”, the imagined defeat of the problem, and another one is the imagination of a companion that listens and seems to help, but disappears in the face of the real problem. But the execution or even just the consideration of those give a confused and distorted look on reality. One can grow detached of one´s own self, even the real world and the purpose of fear as a tool of survival is defeated because one wouldn´t feel the need or the impulse to try to fight the danger/run to a safer place and survive (Overstreet,…show more content…
“Fear of the unknown”

Lovecraft´s most used “type of fear” in his works is the “fear of the unknown” which he defined in his essay “supernatural horror in literature” from the year 1927.
In Lovecraft´s eyes, the sense of horror in literature is mostly due to the fear of the unknown which can be traced back to the oldest known works in human history: “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” (Lovecraft, 1927). 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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