Marcher may appear so eccentric and unrealistic in his obsession that his fate could seem irrelevant and unconvincing. However, many critics and ordinary readers have found that his tragedy only dramatizes, with heightened effect, a common longing for an exalting experience that will redeem an otherwise humdrum existence, although most individuals will not endure anything like Marcher's final revelation at May's graveside.
The story has been read as a confession or parable about James' own life. He never married and possibly never experienced a consummated sexual relationship. Although he did enjoy a thorough experience of aesthetic creativity, it is possible that he still regretted what he called the "essential loneliness" of his life. This biographical relevance adds another level of meaning to "The Beast in the Jungle."