The Beetle Analysis

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Lakshmi Mitra Roll no. 38 _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Richard Marsh’s horror novel The Beetle (published in 1897, the same year as Bram Stoker’s Dracula) has been credited as his most successful commercial work, though he also authored several other novels and short stories in the same genre. It tells the story of a fantastical shape-shifting creature (at times a gender-ambiguous human, and at other times, a beetle) who stalks a popular politician in Victorian society. The Beetle is very much a novel of its time. Marsh employs several different characters to tell his story, and the changing perspectives (it is told from the point of view of four different narrators)…show more content…
The Arab is also fascinated by white skin, asking Holt to undress and examining his skin, and wishing for skin as white as his, reflecting the prevalent attitude of white superiority. Paul Lessingham, when telling the story of his captivity in the ‘native quarter’ in Egypt, enslaved by the cult of Isis, seems to imply that he was simultaneously attracted to and repelled by the Woman of Songs (the head priestess and possibly also the Arab; it is never confirmed but heavily implied). In reality, rape was often used as an imperial weapon of war, and again, Marsh reverses this so the victim becomes the…show more content…
The tension is built very cleverly as the threat is slowly revealed to the reader, from a pair of glowing eyes in the room, to its slow examination of Holt, to the abhorrent creature lying on the bed that Holt finally sees as a grotesque version of a human being with the features of a woman. However, Marsh does not quite sustain this element of heightening the senses (and deriving horror from that), and thus the story becomes less fear-inducing with every quarter. The final quarter (narrated by detective Augustus Champnell) is perhaps the weakest, with a chase scene that seems to be far too repetitive, choppy and dull to build up any proper tension, and the supernatural element of the story is lost in the whirlwind of train stations and police officers. The climax of the novel seems to fall short of events preceding, as the Arab disappears, and there is no confrontation despite chapters and chapters of intended suspense. The cult of Isis is mentioned concretely only twice, once when Lessingham tells his story, and then later, at the end of the novel, where Champnell confirms that a temple containing the bodies of inhumane creatures was destroyed (presumably the same temple where Lessingham was held captive). Marsh does not mention the children of Isis much otherwise, which disbalances the story somewhat, since Lessingham discusses it for quite some

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