Cthulhu Monster in H.P. Lovecraft’s Fiction

June 7, 2021 by Essay Writer

Cthulhu is a monstrous entity created by H.P. Lovecraft, his creation was first introduced in his short story, “The Call of Cthulhu”, published in American pulp magazine, Weird Tales in 1928. Considered a Great Old One of great power that lies in a slumber mimicking the characteristics of death deep beneath the Pacific Ocean, hidden away in the sunken city of R’lyeh. He remains an overwhelming presence in the eldrich dealings on our world. Cthulhu holds his standing within the pantheon of Lovecraftian entities as the most feared of all and has since been featured in countless culture references. Lovecraft explains his creation as an enormous being worshiped by mad cultists. The appearance of Cthulhu is described as resembling an octopus, a dragon and an over exaggerated human hulking monstrosity, often towering several stories tall. Its name was given to the Lovecraft-inspired universe where it and its fellow kin exist, the Cthulhu Mythos.

Although created by Lovecraft, the name Cthulhu comes from the word Chthonic, coming from the Classical Greek meaning of “subterranean”, as referred to by Lovecraft himself at the end of his 1923 tale The Rats in the Walls. Cthulhu in the “Mythos”, was born on the planet Vhoorl from two other Great Old Ones, Nug, and Yeb. At some point, he then traveled to the star system of Xoth, where he mated with Idh-Yaa, another Great Old One, and then later was worshiped by his own shape-shifting spawn. Idh-Yaa eventually gave birth to four more children: Gthanothoa, Ythogtha, Zoth-, and Cthylla. At this point, Cthulhu and his newly formed family traveled to Earth where he built the great city of R’lyeh, where it was eventually destroyed his very spawn, Ythogtha. This was the beginning of a great war among the Old Ones until nothing but dust remained and they all came to the conclusion that Earth was to be shared between there reigns.

Cthulhu remains dormant in his slumber deep within the sunken city of R’lyeh, waiting until the day the stars properly align and he can rise again. During the spring of 1925, “sensitive persons” dreamed deliriously of an eldritch city and of the strange words of Cthulhu’s language, fhtagn. These words come from a saying of the Cthulhu cultists during that time:

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” Roughly translated, this phrase means “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits to dream.” Indeed, the dreams of Cthulhu had touched the minds of these humans. (Price, Robert M.)

It was later discovered that the stars had come into alignment and Cthulhu had risen. However, fortune had not smiled at him and his cultists were unable to witness his awakening. Instead, he was defeated and banished again by a brave, though terrified, boat captain known as Swede. While Cthulhu survived and regenerated, he was unable to unleash further madness and both he and his city sunk beneath the ocean once again to await another opportunity to grasp the world. Would Cthulhu had risen, he would have most likely delivered madness and destruction and probably opened the way for the remaining Great Old Ones to emerge upon Earth. One’s greatest hope for survival would have been as a willing sacrifice, such is the lore from “The Call of Cthulhu.” Lovecraft’s mythos of monstrous evil beings is often termed the “Cthulhu Mythos” or “Cthulhu Cycle” to contrast with his “Dream cycle” stories. It includes many other such beings, some far more intimidating than Cthulhu himself.

In Lovecraft’s fiction, the numerous cults worshiping Cthulhu usually consist of primitive, or secluded groups of individuals who either believe that Cthulhu will bring forth an era of chaos and uninhibited violence or that he will wipe out all of mankind but will thoughtfully kill off the cult swiftly and almost painlessly. Either way, the return of Cthulhu for most people is thought of as a horrible event. As an additional note, over the recent years, there have been a few small “cults” that have actually formed in the modern day around the Cthulhu Mythos. Some of these cults combined Lovecraft’s works with other beliefs, such as Satanism, while others tend to accept that Cthulhu and his kin are fictional, but piggyback on the philosophy of what those fictional beings represent. There are also countless Lovecraft fan organizations that use the term Cult of Cthulhu to describe their social groups, though they are more about admiring the works of fiction than actually following a particular view on the world.

As it holds, Cthulhu as a written creation is less than a century old. It may seem odd that some people follow a religion based on something so relatively young and such a fictional character, but some cult followers say that their beliefs are heavily supported by the “Necronomicon” and other texts. Sadly for them, the Necronomicon is also one of Lovecraft’s works. Several anonymous authors have also written hoax editions of this book. One of these hoax editions often referred to as the Simon edition, says that Cthulhu comes from the Sumerian world Kutulu, giving these Cults of Cthulhu at least some legitimacy of history (Strickland, Jonathan.).

Among those who acknowledge the fact that the nature of the Cthulhu mythos is fictional, there are those who follow the philosophy lying behind the fiction. These individuals express their views that the alien creatures in Lovecraft’s stories are so incomprehensible in comparison, that humanity is beneath their radar. The Old Ones aren’t so much as they are ruthless, as they are just uncaring and disinterested. As human beings, we are viewed as insignificant, much like a flea upon a dog. To these people, the creatures represent cosmic and natural forces that have no minds of their own, yet can affect humanity even to the point of self-destruction. The Great Old Ones hold the worldview that mankind is not even worth considering, and that no matter what we attempt to do, there are forces beyond our control or understanding that could wipe out the human race at an instant without thought.

This brings me to my conclusion to what Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones represent in our fears and history. The mere thought of an entity that has traveled across the universe and now inhabits our world deep beneath the oceans of our planet, creates a panic among the masses. Although completely fictional from the mind of H.P. Lovecraft, the lore of Cthulhu provokes the mind to manifest theories and philosophies of what The Old Ones embody, the fear of the unknown. Cthulhu and it’s spawned are known to wreak havoc among the minds of those they encounter, so who is to say that we are all not already afflicted with the illusion that these entities are fictional, where indeed they are not.

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