Cthulhu Who?

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.

I should have known from this opening statement that I would discover something I shouldn’t. H.P Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, speaks of the unveiling of an old tale. The opening remark basically says that it is a good thing to have an “unknown.” If all humans were capable of knowing all truths, then it is subjected to a whole life of fear. This great amount of knowledge, should be freeing the individual, yet the narrator believes it to be the opposite. To “know too much” makes one a threat. So, the less you know, the better.

In the story, Francis Wayland Thurston reads all of his great-uncle’s work and discovers a hidden secret: the secret of the Cthulhu, a creature that was part of the legend of The Great Old Ones.  The land of R’lyeh was buried deep in the ocean and was rediscovered by Gustaf Johansen and his crew after it appeared to them during a trip.

The story is told in a very interesting way. It is clear that the point of view is of Thurston’s, yet in the very beginning it is noted that these are excerpts from his papers. Also, we are aware that he too is reading the papers of Professor George Gammell Angell. This is an account of another account! I couldn’t help but think that this is how legends are usually told. It’s the traditional way of developing stories and passing them down from generation to generation.

There are three sections to The Call of Cthulhu. “The Horror in Clay,” “The Tale of Inspector Legrasse,” and The Madness from the Sea.” Each section is a new account linked to the story of Cthulhu. First, it starts off with Professor Angell’s theory about the Cthulhu, then the story about the Cult of Cthulhu and the rediscovery, then finally the consequences to unlocking this story. The reason why Lovecraft uses this format, is to show a kind of detective/mystery element to his horror story. We are often spooked when reading such writing, but Lovecraft approaches this genre differently. The investigative process and close analysis’ taps into an even scarier idea: that reading all these secrets makes you a suspect, or even the next victim. We are put into the situation and read as if we too must figure out how all the information is linked together. At the end, we are left with the same worry of Thruston. Will knowing the story of Cthulhu leave us with the same fate as his great-uncle and Henry Anthony Wilcox?

The roles of the poet, artist, dreamer, and scholar are very important to the story. They signify the weaving together of the real and supernatural. In essence, they are those who can see both sides to the story. These individuals kind of have the “third eye” so to speak, because they see the in-between of what’s real and what isn’t, and is able to bridge the gap of both worlds. As people who are taught not to take things at face-value and really analyze what the situation is, they serve as those with the answer to many questions. They are the bodies that are here in the physical world with glasses that project images from the unseen.

Lucy is an example in which the character goes into the “otherworldly.” It might not be the supernatural in the sense that it is another world, but it is definitely touching upon the world we can’t see within our own. Scarlett Johansson’s character is able to unlock her mind’s full potential and see the world in a different light. She, just like Thurston “knows too much” and is the target of various groups who seek to find her. In the movie we are able to see how knowing too much can affect the individual as well as the world we live in. The immense amount of knowledge is literally too much for her to handle.


2 thoughts on “Cthulhu Who?

  1. Hi Clarissa,
    Great post. I especially loved your analysis of the narrative technique. I found that I was struggling to figure out exactly what its purpose was, and your ideas made a lot of sense to me. You say that”I couldn’t help but think that this is how legends are usually told,” and I absolutely agree! Also, the idea that this narrative as a sort of investigative process that brings us closer and closer to being victim/suspect is something I didn’t consider, but I really love that idea. Do you think that, along with making us more and more of a suspect/victim, this style also contributes to making us more and more fearful as we get closer to the source of knowledge/information?


  2. Hey Clarissa,
    I have a dog, and as weird as it sounds I find myself envying him from time to time. He’s always chilling, without a single care in the world. He doesn’t know the things I know and he honestly seems blissfully content with just being a dog. Knowledge is power, and with great power comes great responsibility. I didn’t get a chance to catch Lucy when it was in the theaters but I do plan on watching it soon now that you’ve piqued my interest!

    Liked by 1 person

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