Selected Stories of H.P. Lovecraft Summary

Selected Stories of H.P. Lovecraft Summary

The short story 'The Outsider' begins with a quotation by Keats that roughly depicts a Baron and their nightmares. The opening paragraph expresses the woes of one who remembers their childhood in a sad and lonely light, thinking of bad memories amongst dark and gloomy surroundings. The speaker then reveals this unfotunate childhood story to be relevant to them, and reflects that they harness these memories in their mind when it looks to wander towards, 'the other.'

The subject describes their childhood home, noting that they are unaware of their birth-place. The place where they lived is grand and looming, but not homely, being depressingly dark and covered by the dense shadow of the surrounding trees that enclose it. Even the one interesting tower that stretches above the hidden castle is unreachable and impossible to scale. Unsure of the length of time they lived here and expressing a lack of company that made any impression for them to remember. As a child they were alone in their own mind, and remember a human that nursed them of ragged and aged proportions. The skeletons within the deeper grounds never disconcerted this child, but they felt more real to them than images in books, that were not relevant nor relatable to them.

These books were a source of information and self-education for the child, as no one apparently taught them or gave them the skills they needed to speak. Being unaware of their own appearance, the child only feels their own youth through a lack of consistent and detailed memories. Imagining the world far from the castle whilst lying in the grass and contemplating the things discovered in the books read. They tried to escape from the darkness of the dense land surrounding the castle, but as they moved further away, the darkness and uncertainty instilled so much fear they returned to the castle. The desire for the light outside the bubble of darkness enveloping the castle grew stronger until the child resolves to climb the tower, considering seeing the sky and dying as better than never seeing it at all.

The child ascends the staircase until it ceases, using footholds in the sides of the tower to climb further. The darkness of night seems to have approached them, and they think the should soon like to grab a window or opening of some sort with which to get their bearings. Suddenly, their hand grasps a solid ledge, which the endeavour to open. Once successfully moving the obstacle with their head, the light was still absent. discovering that their climb is now over, they rest on the platform that seems to be the floor of an observation point. Unfortunately the heavy trap-door through which they entered shuts behind them and they note they will need to try and open it again when the time comes to leave.

Now thought to be at the pinnacle of the tower, the child searches for a window through which to see the night sky and all that it entails. However, there are no windows and an donly strange, rectangular boxes on shelves. The subject wonders what secrets could be hiding here, so far from the world they have been present in down below. They find a door, but it will not open. Eventually their strength is boosted so that they can open the door. Through a window on the other side of the door, the child is filled with excitement and wonder at the sight of the moon shining on some stairs. They have never set eyes on the moon in reality before. Running up the stairs to the grated window, they trip due to a momentary laps of light which is caused by a cloud covering the moon. When they reach the grating, it is able to be opened, but the child figures this too dangerous due to the possibility of falling from the tower. At this moment, the moon reappears.

In a turn of events, the view form the window, revelling in the moonlight, is one of flat ground presenting a chapel. Almost in a daze, the speaker opens the window and stands at the mouth of two pathways that follow two different directions.The determination to see light remains solidly the soul purpose for the speaker and whether this vision was a force of the supernatural or being mentally insane, they do not care, as seeing the light is worth any price to be paid. Knowing not where they are, there is a strange sense of familiarity, as if the child remembers being there before. Following the landscape, they reach a castle that is familiar yet also not. Parts of the fort had been re-established, whilst the moat was filled and some towers were destroyed. There is light protruding from some of the windows and voices can be heard, whilst sime faces appear of a vague familiarity, and others ressemble nothing and nobody known. Having not spoken themselves, the subject finds it difficult to understand what is said.

As the young person enters through the window, a chaotic situation unfolds, as the people scream and umble to exit the room, creating a nightmre for the speaker. They quickly perceive that what has terrified these people may be nearby and tries to find and move from it. The subject notices something from the corner of their eye and describes a monster standing there of awful proportions. They try to stumble away and then reach out to touch this creature. Fleeing from the scene the speaker realises they cannot open the trap door again, but is fine with this, as they did not like the castle in darkness anyway. When the reach out they seem to remember and piece together parts of their history.

The speaker then dances in the moon with other ghouls and uncommon creatures. They conclude that no light is suitable for them except that of the moon. They reveal that when they reached out and touched the terrifying being, they in fact felt 'polished glass,' a mirror depicting themselves.

The short story 'The Horror at Martin's Beach' begins by stating that no two accounts of the events are the same, even though many people saw what happened. The police reports have gaps in their recounting of the events too. The reason for the lack of clarity is suggested to be perhaps the unexpected and completely absurd nature of this 'horror,' the paralysing effect of what was seen or the fact that the Inn involved tried to cover up what happened after an article was published by a man named Prof. Alton. It was entitled, '"Are Hypnotic Powers Confined to Recognized Humanity?"'

In the face of such problems, the speaker is determined to put together a 'version,' that makes sense, as they themselves witnessed the event and want to expose the nature of this horror. Personally, they cannot view the sea in the same way anymore. The events of the 8th of August, 1922 are then relayed by the speaker as if being written in a newspaper. There was much hype in the area of Martin's beach, due to a long-lasting fight between a fishing ship called Alma from Gloucester. The fighting was against a monster from the sea, which caused great fascination amongst the contemporary scientists. They were partiularly keen that the fighting would not destroy the presentation of the beast after deth through taxidermic.

A description of the beast is given: it measures around fifty feet long and is a rounded shape like a cylinder. It resembles a fish with gills, yet differs in its adaptations, for example, it has legs and feet, the latter of which consist of six toes. These replace fins, which caused a lot of 'speculation,' to arise. The unusual and fascinating size of this creature is almost equalled by the wonderment surrounding its one eye, the unbelievable mouth and the scales on its 'hide.' The experts in natural science point out their theory that this beast is only a young one, hatched for less time than a week, which creates more interest in the public eye.

The captain of the ship Alma, Capt. Orne, picked a massive ship that could hold the beast in its hull. He organised for their victory to be exhibited by building a wooden, 'marine museum,' that brought in a steady income from visitors when stationed at Martin's Beach. It is concurred that the fish-like creature is an important scientific discovery and a sight that out-marvels any other marine creature. The scientists note that the development and adaptation of it is far superior to that of any other fish.

On 20th July, yet more amazement was drawn by the disappearance of the ship and the beast it housed. It took with it the guard watching through the bad weather, and Captain Orne with scientific investigation on his side and a fleet of fishing boats searches for the missing spectacle. He returns to the Wavecrest Inn by August 7th, and the very next day 'the horror came.'

There were a lot of people who witnessed it, including Captain Orne, people gathering at the Inn who made their way to the beach, people walking and bathers. The scene is darkening and night is on its way. No one knows the exact timing of the event, but use the moon to distiguish the rough hour. The moon also has significance in being possibly linked to what happens. A ripple emerges that is different from any other and breaks up before reaching the shore. Then a shrill 'cry of death,' rings out.

The lifeguards responded first, although they did not recognise the cry as similar to anything they had heard before. A rope and inflatable rescue aid are thrown into the sea and the crowd wait to see the rescue, however, when they try to pull the 'life-preserver' back, they cannot, as whatever is on the other end is pulling the other way to them. The lifeguards are dragged into the sea. One grabs the rope and calls to those on the shore, including Capt. Orne, to help them, but there is no positive outcome. All try to figure out what is at the other end of the rope. Now it is clear there is not a person who is drowning, the need to save a human life subsides and is replaced by curiosity.

The Captain proposes it must be a whale and calls for a crew and a ship to go and kill the creature, however he secretly thinks it could be a larger creature like the one he captured before. As it makes sense for the Captain to go on such a search ship, people volunteer to take is place at the rope, but the Captin and all others holding on to it realise they cannot let go and are stuck to it. The moral standing and views about whether to get stuck in and help are questioned by each person, including the speaker who admits her decision. Those holding the rope succumb to the fact they are stuck and the water rises and rises around them as they pull against the rope.

It is silent. No one helps or shouts words to encourage those affected. The spectators remove themselves from the tide's reach, those pulling the rope are consumed more and more by the sea and the weather becomes violent and thunder rolls. At this point the spectators return to the inn, where news of events had already instilled fear in those residing there. The speaker thinks some words tethered by fear were spoken, but they are not completely sure. Some go to their rooms in fear, others continue to watch the disappearing heads bobbing on the surfcae of the water. The speaker contemplates the thoughts that possibly run through these heads.

The narratore sees a single-eyed being on the horizon. Fire rains down from the heavens and a terrifying 'din,' is heard that is thought to be the expression of agony by those drowning. The storm ends and all is peaceful and quiet. The heads are gone, the sea is still apart from some rippling movement from a whirlpool illuminated by the moon, from which the cry was initially heard. The speaker hears a subtle laugh as they survey the still sea.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.