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H.P Lovecraft's "He": An Analysis

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Mackenzie is an avid writer who enjoys fan culture and the interesting topics surrounding classic literature and the analyzation of books.

Cover of He by H.P Lovecraft

Cover of He by H.P Lovecraft

Summary of "He"

Our narrator, a poet, moves to New York City from his home: London. He greatly regrets the move and is uncomfortable with the history (or lack therefore of) in the city deciding only to travel out of his living place at night. Because of this, he forms a few poems. One night he stumbles across a man dressed from the 18th century while wandering around Greenwich Village. The man offers to show our narrator around and show him the secrets of the town.

The man dressed in 18th-century clothing brings the narrator to his home. He begins to tell him a story of a squire who pleaded with Native Americans to tell him their secrets such as their rituals with space and time. When the Native Americans told the squire of their secrets the man killed the natives so that he would be the only one with their knowledge.

We come back to where the man is telling the narrator the story. The man begins to show the narrator visions of the future and the past so horrific the narrator begins to shout and scream. The screams wake the souls of the Native American's who are ready to get revenge on the man telling the story who turns out to be the same quire from the story.

Background

Like most of Lovecraft's stories He takes a lot of inspiration and feelings from Lovecraft. At the time of the story, he had most away from Rhode Island and into New York City. His feeling about the city is put into the opening of the story, stemming from his racist beliefs of immigrants and odd strangers that didn't look like him.

My coming to New York had been a mistake; for whereas I had looked for poignant wonder and inspiration in the teeming labyrinths of ancient streets that twist endlessly from forgotten courts and squares and waterfronts to courts and squares and waterfronts equally forgotten, and in the Cyclopean modern towers and pinnacles that rise blackly Babylonian under waning moons, I had found instead only a sense of horror and oppression which threatened to master, paralyze, and annihilate me.

He specifically was written after an all-night tour of New York City. The next morning Lovecraft went to Elisabeth, New Jersey by ferry where he bought a composition book and wrote the story in a park. The streets, mansions, and houses mentioned in He are all inspired by real streets and houses that Lovecraft learned about in his short time living in New York City.

Narrator AKA Another Lovecraft Self-Insert

Like most H.P Lovecraft stories this narrator remains unnamed, realistic, and shows a lot of similarities with Lovecraft himself.

This isn't the first time that Lovecraft has written himself into one of his stories. His racist beliefs, thoughts on New York City, and the way the narrator seems to be a writer and a poet.

This story is one of many Lovecraft stories that can be categorized as a "vent piece" he's trying to get his thoughts out quickly through the way he knows how: horror.

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