English: Reading: Short Horror: H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Tomb”

The tutor shares some thoughts about Lovecraft’s short story “The Tomb.”

“The Tomb” is classic Lovecraft. First, it centres on an abandoned location connected with former greatness. Second, its narrator develops a connection to the supernatural world. Finally, the narrator’s exposure to that other world consumes him, so he cannot return to normal life.

In my experience, Lovecraft focuses on setting more than character development, which I appreciate. I read more for setting than any other facet of a story. In “The Tomb”, the narrator is irresistibly attracted to a wooded area, once part of the estate of a great family that returned to Europe after a tragedy. There the narrator finds the tomb.

Spending time around the tomb, the narrator has a supernatural experience whence he learns how he can enter it. The narrator’s experiences in the tomb cause him to prefer it to the everyday world. He comes to feel he belongs therein.

Eventually, the narrator casts his fate with the perished occupants of the tomb. He rejects normal life, seeking to be “reunited” with them. He suggests he may be a reincarnation of one of them who, mysteriously, never wound up in the tomb.

Three focuses I’ve noticed of Lovecraft’s stories:

  1. The supernatural world is much bigger than our own and surrounds us.
  2. The supernatural world can be entered surprisingly easily, either purposefully or by accident.
  3. Once a person enters the supernatural world, they may not be able to return.


Padgett, JoAnn, et al (editors). Classic Tales of Horror. San Diego: Canterbury
  Classics, 2015.

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