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Fear In Stephen Crane's The Blue Hotel

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H.P. Lovecraft, a renowned author in the genre of horror fiction once spoke on the subject of fear and remarked, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” In his short story The Blue Hotel, Stephen Crane tells the story of a nervous Swede who visits the American west for the first time, which he assumes to be a dangerous place. The Swede’s paranoia, the constraints of society’s rules, and the lack of interference from the other characters culminate together and lead to the murder of the Swede. In The Blue Hotel, Stephen Crane asserts that the inherent fear in all humans is the cause of violence, and portrays his beliefs using characterization.
In The Blue Hotel, Stephen Crane uses the character of the Swede to demonstrate how fear manifests and escalates in human behavior. In the Swede’s first moments in The Blue Hotel, the Swede, possibly intimidated by rumors and novels about the west, is understandably scared in an unknown environment. When his character is introduced, the Swede is described as “shaky and quick-eyed” (Crane 27) The Swede goes on to make paranoid comments that reveal his fears. “I suppose I am going to be killed before I can leave this house! I suppose I am going to be killed before I can leave this
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Throughout The Blue Hotel, not a single character other than the Easterner attempts to break up the rising tensions among the group. Instead, the other characters chose either to sit back and watch the story unfold or even instigate conflict themselves. For example, Scully, instead of trying to calm the Swede down, tells the Swede to fight Johnny. After the fight begins, the cowboy gets caught up in the excitement yells “Hit him, Johnnie! Hit him! Kill him! Kill him!” (Crane 39) According to Crane, one who allows wrongs to occur is just as guilty as the one who committed
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