Reliability and Perspective

Perspective is the way an individual views things. The authors, Lovecraft and Greene, very literally provide us with the speaker’s perspective of the events that supposedly transpired on August 8, 1922 at Martin’s Beach. The description given to us recounts exactly what the individual remembers happening and what he saw throughout the course of the night. Regardless of the content of the story, what I found to be most compelling was how the speaker himself shows how even he is unsure of what really happened that night. Ultimately, the question being asked is how is reliability affected by different perspectives.


While we, as readers, have no reason to doubt the author, he certainly provides us with reasons to do just that: “no two accounts agree” (The Horror at Martin’s Beach Paragraph 1). Within the first two lines of the article, the author has already pointed out to us the unreliability of any recounts of that night. As he goes on to describe to us what he saw, he never fails to remind us no one really knew what was actually transpiring that night. The reason that I find this so interesting is that in general with any form of literature including books, articles, and even news stories, readers tend to trust the author completely. However, learning to question the author often enables us to understand more. Therefore, while we could accept this account as the best possible summary of what happened, even the speaker knows that what he is saying is not entirely reliable: “Certainly there was no lack of witnesses, confused though their stories be with fear and doubt of what they saw” (The Horror at Martin’s Beach 10). The author once again admits to us and reminds us that there is a large possibility for confusion and misconception in his recount and everyone else’s of that night. One thing that the speaker makes clear to us is his own perspective and specifically skepticism of water after his experience. The speaker clearly sees the water as threat and this is simply as a result of his own experiences with it. Had that night been different it is safe to assume that his feelings towards the ocean would be different as well. Ultimately, the fact that perspective is specific to individuals should remind us to always question the reliability of any content that we read and how it is specific to the speaker.


8 thoughts on “Reliability and Perspective

  1. I agree with the points made in this response. I liked how you took the skepticism of H.P Lovecraft, and used that to show the connection with reliability and perspective. I think it is important to point out that Lovecraft says, “Despite the large number of witnesses, no two accounts agree; and the testimony taken by local authorities contains the most amazing discrepancies” (Lovecraft). As you said, this shows that Lovecraft is well aware that this tale could be met with skepticism from readers. Additionally, Lovecraft is able to use this story to show his own personal opinion about water, and the immense dangers that it can pose. I think it is interesting that you pointed out what the readers may be thinking while reading this. Also, I think Lovecraft’s language throughout the piece conveys different possible themes that can be interpreted in the readers. Clearly, as you stated, Lovecraft carefully chooses certain ideas that promote his narrative that water must be treated with respect, or else it can result in tragedy, as shown in The Horror at Martin’s Beach. Lovecraft wants readers to be weary of the dangers that water can pose, which is why he uses language such as “fright” and “panic” when describing the state of those on Martin’s Beach. I also agree with the statement you made about readers believing everything that they read. Especially in today’s climate, I think it is important for readers to recognize when certain facts or stories all together may be made up. By listening to a variety of sources, a reader can make their own, well-informed opinion about something that happened. In conclusion, I think that Lovecraft successfully raises the worries about the dangers of water to readers.

  2. Julia, I get from your passage that it is a great point to quest for the factors that affect reliability, but I might not quite agree with what your answer provides to answer the question. As the question raised, ‘how is reliability affected by different perspectives’, the answer would be better if it explains what the different perspectives are, and there might be some missing of examples in the article’s answer. The passage describes the horror scene happened at Martin’s Beach from many different people’s views, like Capt. Orne and his scientific team, the spectators on the beach, as well as the naturalists. As it said in Paragraph 5 of The Horror at Martin’s Beach, ‘The object was some fifty feet in length’, the naturalists described the marine infant monster while trying to be accurate, which indicates that they held a firm perspective since they were curious about the object, and they did their measurement. However, as one of your sentences expressed that ‘the speaker is unsure of what really happened that night’ (at almost the end of your first paragraph), for the speaker to describe the same object, he uses adverbs to describe the size of the object like ‘radically differed’, ‘obviously’, ‘perhaps’ and ‘startling vast’ to show both the ambiguous recognition of the infant object and his uncertainty. At here, the reliability of the description to the infant monster is challenged.

    Also as you explained, ‘Had that night been different it is safe to assume that his feelings towards the ocean would be different as well’, for the next paragraphs in the passage, the author describes the horror event happened at the beach, using the direct observation from people who involved in the rescue and the staring from the other spectators. From the perspective of Capt. Orne and his team, they experienced the horrifying event directly. So, it is natural that because of their involvement, there holds an objective description of the event. But when it comes to the author and the spectators on the beach, the scenes might be boasted or fictional, especially the author who used literal language to describe the event, ‘speechless horror ensued’, since the panic was conveyed through them while they were bystanders of the event. The contradictory descriptions cast doubt on the reliability of what actually happened on August 8th, 1922.

    In conclusion, I am much impressed that you point out a special and spectacular aspect of the event related with water, and I should see if my thinking works to extend your answer to the question.

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