The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft Summary and Characters of The Story

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What is the summary of the story The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft? Information about the characters and the summary of The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft.

The Dunwich Horror

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The Dunwich Horror

“The Dunwich Horror” is a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft in 1928. The story is set in the fictional town of Dunwich, Massachusetts and centers around the occult practices of a degenerate and inbred family known as the Whateleys. The story describes the efforts of several characters to stop the Whateleys from summoning a powerful and terrifying creature known as “the Dunwich Horror.” The story is notable for its use of cosmic horror and its depiction of the degeneration of a rural New England community. Themes include the dangers of forbidden knowledge and the insignificance of humanity in the face of the vast, uncaring universe.

Summary

The story is set in the fictional town of Dunwich, Massachusetts, which is described as being a remote and isolated area of the state. The town is said to be located in the hills, and is known for its strange and unsettling atmosphere. The story centers around the occult practices of a degenerate and inbred family known as the Whateleys. The patriarch of the family is a man named Old Whateley, who is described as being extremely unfriendly and reclusive. His two sons, Wilbur and Lavinia, are both described as being abnormal and monstrous in appearance.

The story begins when Wilbur Whateley, the elder of the two sons, visits the library at Miskatonic University in Arkham to borrow a rare book on witchcraft. The librarian, a man named Warren, becomes suspicious of Wilbur and begins to investigate the Whateley family. He discovers that Old Whateley is rumored to have made a deal with the devil, and that Wilbur and Lavinia are the result of that deal. Warren also learns that the Whateleys have been practicing dark rituals and have been attempting to summon a powerful and terrifying creature known as “the Dunwich Horror.”

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Warren learns that the Whateleys have been sacrificing animals to the creature in an effort to bring it fully into the physical world. They believe that the creature is the offspring of the “Old Ones,” an ancient race of beings that existed before the dawn of humanity. The Whateleys are attempting to use the creature to bring about the return of the Old Ones and the destruction of humanity.

As the story progresses, the creature begins to manifest more fully in the physical world, causing strange and terrifying events to occur in Dunwich. Local farmer, Elmer Frye, is driven insane by the creature, and it kills several other people. Eventually, Warren, along with a group of other scholars and occultists, set out to stop the Whateleys and the creature. They succeed in destroying the creature, but not before it causes widespread destruction and death in the town.

The story ends with the implication that the Old Ones will one day return, and that humanity is powerless to stop them. It also suggests that the events in Dunwich were only a small part of a larger cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil. Themes in the story include the dangers of forbidden knowledge, the insignificance of humanity in the face of the vast, uncaring universe, and the destructive power of unchecked ambition and greed.

One thing that stands out in this story is the use of cosmic horror, a genre that Lovecraft is known for. He presents the idea that the world is not only vast and mysterious, but also uncaring and indifferent to the fate of humanity. The story also uses the concept of forbidden knowledge, with the Whateleys seeking to gain power through forbidden rituals, yet ultimately leading to their own destruction. Through the story, Lovecraft creates a sense of dread and unease that lingers long after the story is finished, leaving a deep impression on the readers.

Characters

Here is a list of the main characters in “The Dunwich Horror” and a brief summary of their role in the story:

  • Wilbur Whateley: The elder of Old Whateley’s two sons, and the main antagonist of the story. Wilbur is described as being abnormal and monstrous in appearance. He is the one who visits the library at Miskatonic University to borrow the book on witchcraft and sets the events of the story in motion.
  • Lavinia Whateley: Wilbur’s sister and Old Whateley’s other child. Like Wilbur, Lavinia is described as being abnormal and monstrous in appearance. She plays a minor role in the story, but is important in that her existence confirms the Whateleys’ inbreeding, and the monstrous nature of the family.
  • Old Whateley: The patriarch of the Whateley family and the father of Wilbur and Lavinia. Old Whateley is described as being extremely unfriendly and reclusive. He is rumored to have made a deal with the devil, and is the one who has been leading the family’s dark rituals and attempts to summon the Dunwich Horror.
  • Warren: The librarian at Miskatonic University, who becomes suspicious of Wilbur and begins to investigate the Whateley family. Warren is the one who discovers the truth about the Whateleys and the Dunwich Horror, and leads the effort to stop them.
  • Elmer Frye: A local farmer who is driven insane by the Dunwich Horror and plays a minor role in the story.
  • The Dunwich Horror: The powerful and terrifying creature that the Whateleys are attempting to summon. It is said to be the offspring of the “Old Ones,” an ancient race of beings that existed before the dawn of humanity. The creature causes widespread destruction and death in the town before it’s finally destroyed.

These are the main characters of the story, but there are other minor characters like Dr. Armitage, Professor Rice, and several other scholars and occultists who joins Warren’s effort to stop the Whateleys and the Dunwich Horror.

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