Rachelle P on The Beetle

Before I had a chance to read The Beetle, I remember Dr. Martin telling us in class to imagine the terror the story displayed within its time period. Within our own time period, the horror that The Beetle depicts has been recycled and reused throughout plots within movies, books, poems, and TV-shows. In The Beetle, we are faced with a truly horrifying depiction of a supernatural force that consumes one’s ability to be in control that transcends time and displays the fears within our own consciousness.

For me, I did not have to separate myself from main stream media to be persuaded by The Beetle; Marsh was able to do that to me all on his own. Besides being the type of person that is in constant need of control, I have an irrational fear of spiders. Finding one in my room, not even the size of a dime, results in an episode of screaming and ends in tears until the spider is flushed down the drain. In the scene where Robert Holt is first encountered by the beetle, he describes the ominous creature as a “spider of the nightmares; a monstrous conception of some dreadful vision” (51). The scene follows an exhausting recount of it climbing up Holt’s body, inch by inch, in which he describes not only being paralyzed by fear, but “had not a muscle at my command” (51). Besides Marsh implanting the image of a giant spider crawling up your motionless body “with hideous slowness” (52), he then depicts a kiss between the creature and Holt. Not only does this scene mark the moment of where all fears are excessively tantalized with for the reader, but a moment where Holt’s character reaches his a level of horror that made him mad (52). Holt then states he pushes the creature off, squishes it and tries to get away. For Holt’s character, this is the last real moment he finds himself in any form of control, but upon reflection of the reader, we understand it to be very far from the case. The Beetle has taken hold without Holt’s realization at this point. He is no longer autonomous, but hardly realizes it, as “the man in the bed” (52) is a less threatening character as he orders him around. Once Holt is ordered to break into Paul Lessingham’s house, he is faced with the perplexed reality of his state of being. He states “my condition was one of dual personality,-while physically I was bound, mentally to a considerable extent, I was free” (69).  Marsh accurately depicts a state of inexpressible horror for the human agent. One that is mentally present, but physically completely stripped of autonomy; Holt can think for himself, but not be able to physically carry put those actions. A terrorizing conscious state that haunts the pages of The Beetle, holding fear to be something past jump scares and gore, but pure mental trepidation.

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