3 January 2013
The Genre of Horror: The Rats in the Walls
The Rats in the Walls by H.P. Lovecraft is a horror story that portrays the overall mindset of a man who is trying to restore Exham Priory and the reputation of his family and ancestors from centuries ago. Delapore is a wealthy man who wants to rebuild his family home, even against the several horrible stories told by local villagers and his friend Capt. Norrys. Once his restoration of the house is complete, he begins to notice some unusual things occurring inside the house. It starts with his cat that moved “from room to room, restless and disturbed, and sniffed constantly about the walls which formed part of the old Gothic structure” (Lovecraft 436). As time goes on, the reader can see that Delapore is hearing the same sounds the cats are hearing, but no one else hears them. Delapore’s unusual findings throughout the story pile together and lead to his complete insanity and mental breakdown.
Lovecraft puts this story in the early twentieth century, and adds historical moments into his horror story to put fear and tension into the reader. He brings the Civil War into the story when talking about Delapore’s grandfather:
During the war our fortunes were extinguished and our whole existence changed by the burning of Carfax, our home on the banks of the James. My grandfather, advanced in years, had perished in that incendiary outrage, and with him the envelope that bound us all to the past. (Lovecraft 432)
The envelope would have given Delapore the reasons why to stay away from Exham Priory and the evils associated with the house. But since it has been destroyed, he has no clue to how much danger he is putting himself in. Lovecraft also puts World War I into the story with the use of Delapore’s son, Alfred, who is stationed in England as an aviation officer. Alfred constantly writes to him about the “colourful and perhaps sinister...