An Inherent Human Flaw

For the past two-hundred thousand years, mankind has roamed the Earth doing their best to impose their power over other species. They believe themselves to be invincible to inferiority. As seen in, “The Horror at Martin’s Beach”, by H. P. Lovecraft and Sonia H. Greene, the captain and his sailors decide to kill a being of life for the simple reason of profit. The 4th paragraph reads, “On May 17 the crew…killed, after a battle of nearly forty hours, a marine monster whose size and aspect produced the greatest possible stir in scientific circles and caused certain Boston naturalists to take every precaution for its taxidermic preservation.” Although this is great for our advancements in the knowledge of marine life, are we pushing our boundaries as humans of what is justifiable?

The majority of mankind acts on their own agenda. It is extremely symbolic that the captain sailed out into the ocean, the monsters home, and killed it, then, when he returned to land he was given money. This theme of antagonizing other species comes at what cost? At what point is the money we receive from hunting, deforestation, etc., not worth the cost of another organisms life? I believe the day of August 8, 1922 is symbolic of how humans will have to face their repercussions for their ambitions and destructiveness. It proves no human is immortal or untouchable to the cycle of life and eventually it will catch up to us.

3 thoughts on “An Inherent Human Flaw

  1. I agree that a theme of this short story is power. You supporting quotation provides good evidence for your points about power and how far humans will go to achieve it. I agree with your question “Are we pushing our boundaries as humans of what is justifiable?” I think the short story forces the reader to question their own morals. Humans are very selfish as you state and the short story provides context for that. “The struggling participants, as well as the spectators, were by this time consumed with curiosity as to the nature of the force in the sea. The idea of a drowning man had long been dismissed; and hints of whales, submarines, monsters, and demons now passed freely around. Where humanity had first led the rescuers, wonder kept them at their task; and they hauled with a grim determination to uncover the mystery.” Lovecraft reveals that the men in the story that ran to help, were no longer hoping to save a human, they wanted to be the first people to see whatever creature or force was going against them. These men wanted to discover the mystery first, because that would put them ahead of others, maybe even give them some sort of power. I think it is our American society that pushes people into a competition to survive and be the most powerful. Some people, animals, and natural resources are exploited in this process as you state in your post.
    Lovecraft wrote, “Capt. Orne, with typical Yankee shrewdness, obtained a vessel large enough to hold the object in its hull, and arranged for the exhibition of his prize. With judicious carpentry he prepared what amounted to an excellent marine museum, and, sailing south to the wealthy resort district of Martin’s Beach, anchored at the hotel wharf and reaped a harvest of admission fees.” Captain Orne is described as “Typical Yankee Shrewdness” meaning American cleverness and insight. His western knowledge was used to conduct this display of the sea animal he captured and the power he holds over this animal he killed. Although you described money as a “simple reason” I think money is a very important and complex part of power. Capt. Orne to goes to the “wealthy resort” in order to make the most money. I think that not only does this story suggest that humans are not immortal and are susceptible to the cycle of life as you wrote, but I think that it criticizes humans sick cravings for power and money.

  2. I agree with you. It is crazy to think about how many animals humans have killed to either have them hang up on walls or exchange for money. Killing animals has become some sort of hobby or sport where people think it is justified to kill a living specie. In, “The Horror at Martin’s Beach”, by H. P. Lovecraft and Sonia H. Greene, the captain says he “arranged for the exhibition of his prize” (Lovecraft and Greene). He is referring to the creature he killed as his prize to show off. Us as humans have granted ourselves the ability to kill other species just because we are smarter and more advanced than other species. Furthermore, we kill more animals then we necessarily need. When a lion is hungry it kills enough gazelles to satisfy its hunger. It does not kill more than what it needs. Moreover, if the roles were reversed where a group of animals captured a human, people would not think twice in taking down that group of animals. I also like your point about how this is symbolic to how humans will have to face the repercussions that they caused from killing this creature. By the time humans as whole make a change it may be to late.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with you final declaration that no person can escape the wrath of death no matter how hard he or she tries. Death is unfortunately an inevitable part of life, although that would appear to be an oxymoron, in this regard, however, I don’t believe it is. It is a fascinating, albeit, heavy topic, but a question best addressed another day. Additionally, I concur with your rhetorical question with regards to ‘how much’ man can ‘get away with,’ or as you put it, “antagonizing” before nature reciprocates in kind. By this I mean, how much can people alter nature or the ocean, by way of climate change, overfishing, and pollution before it revolts in some way? In our current world, a way in which the ocean may ‘revolt’ is by a dramatic increase in the frequency and power of storms (hurricanes/tsunamis). Accordingly, H.P. Lovecrafts and Sonia H. Greene’s, “The Horror at Martin’s Beach” has a riveting line evidencing the ‘revolt’ or anger of the ocean after the killing of the “monster.” The line reads as follows: “There now burst from the infuriate sky such a mad cataclysm of satanic sound that even the former crash seemed dwarfed.” I believe this line serves two primary purposes; one literal, the other symbolic. The literal translation of the line serves to show the remarkable power and sound of the storm. The symbolic meaning, which I think may have more significance shows the ocean (nature) revolting against something done by man that was not natural (killing of a monster). It shows that if people are to actively “play with” nature, there is a distinct possibility nature will revolt and reciprocate with severe damages against human society, which may take place in a variety of forms. To conclude, I think you made an excellent point about where the limit on “antagonizing” the ocean is before it catches up with us and creates extensive damage to society (storms, flooding, drought, lack of fish in certain parts of the world, etc)…