H English 10, Period 5
2010 September 26
The Cats of Ulthar: Morality on Spotlight
Fear is a very powerful thing, sometimes so powerful that it prevents some from doing what is right. Sometimes it takes karma to act against wrongdoings. In H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Cats of Ulthar”, a short story about a young Egyptian boy who curses and kills the his cat’s murderers for revenge, the idea of consequence is discussed in thorough detail, as well as the idea that fear can hinder positive action against crime and misdeeds. Lovecraft argues that fear should not stop someone from doing the right thing, and that one can only get away with evil for so long without consequence, and uses dark mood, irony, and foreshadowing to show this.
Through the use of dark mood and foreshadowing, Lovecraft proves that people should not be afraid to do the right thing. A dark mood is created around the old couple when “a cat was missed, and sounds heard after dark, the loser would lament impotently”. (1) They are too fearful to confront them. This makes villagers seems foolish and would rather accept what has happened than prevent it from happening again. Lovecraft implements dark mood a second time when “little Atal… [sees] all the cats of Ulthar...in a circle around the cottage…as if in performance,” (2) as if performing some kind of odd ritual. This is followed by “and though they feared [the old couple], they preferred not to chide the old cotter”. (2) This is yet another proof that the villagers let their fears get in the way of doing what is right, and as a result of this inaction, pitiful Menes loses his beloved pet kitten. Another point supporting this is made through foreshadowing, when it is stated that, after the disappearance of all the cats in the village, “every cat was back at his accustomed hearth”. (2) This foreshadows the death of the old