QCQ-09 English 420, Victorian Monsters

QCQ-09 English 420, Victorian Monsters


“…For you are my slave,—at my beck and call,—my familiar spirit, to do with as I will,—you know this, —eh?”

‘I did know it, and the knowledge of my impotence was terrible. I felt that if I could only get away from him; only release myself from the bonds with which he had bound me about; only remove myself from the horrible glamour of his near neighborhood; only get one or two square meals and have an opportunity of recovering from the enervating stress of mental and bodily fatigue;—I felt that then I might be something like his match, and that a second time, he would endeavor in vain to bring me within the compass of his magic. But, as it was, I was conscious that I was helpless, and the consciousness was agony.’ (62, 63)


The Beetle begins with narration by Robert Holt, a man down on his luck, currently homeless and jobless and on the verge of starvation. It is in this weakened state that he falls prey to the humanoid being with supernatural powers. This supernatural being enslaves Holt in a scheme of vengeance against Paul Lessingham, an esteemed politician.

It is notable that Lessingham is described, by a competitor, Mr. Atherton, as has having a “reputation…of being a man of iron nerve” who Atherton suspects is actually “one of those individualities which, confronted by certain eventualities, collapse…”(108)


Susceptibility while in a weakened state is what interests me in the above quote. It seems all too often the most powerless are the most exploited. And I am also interested in the possibility of the link the author may be making between susceptibility and internal powerlessness. Here, in Lessingham, is there that duality of which we spoke of in class, between who one appears to be and who one is given a profound situation?

Marsh, Richard, and Julian Wolfreys. Broadview Editions: The Beetle, Broadview Press, Peterborough, Ont., 2004, pp. 62,63,108.

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