Literature: The Thing On The Doorstep

"The Thing on the Doorstep" is a story by HP Lovecraft, published in 1937. The story starts with our narrator, Daniel Upton, explaining to the police why he's just shot and killed his best friend, Edward Derby.

Upton recounts his lifelong friendship with Derby, which took a turn for the sour when Derby married a creepy young Innsmouth woman named Asenath Waite. Asenath's father Ephraim dabbled in forbidden sorcery, and it looked like Asenath was following in her dad's footsteps, performing mysterious occult experiments that caused Derby to become more and more unhinged...

This short story provides examples of:

  • Big Bad: Asenath. Until we find out "Asenath" has really been Ephraim the whole time.
  • Body Horror: Derby's consciousness is permanently trapped in a rotting corpse. The real Asenath suffered the same fate off-screen.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Derby dies.
  • Grand Theft Me: Ephraim achieves this by switching bodies with Asenath and then with Derby.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Asenath is one of the Innsmouth fish-people, as evidenced by her bulgy eyes.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Derby and Upton.
  • How We Got Here: The whole story is Upton explaining why he shot his friend.
  • Immortality Immorality: The only way to become immortal is to swap bodies with someone.
  • Kill It with Fire: Derby suggests cremating his Ephraim-possessed corpse, since shooting Ephraim didn't do any good.
  • Momma's Boy: Derby's quite dependent on his parents, which makes him easy prey for Asenath.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Derby refers to Ephraim as a lich.
  • Split Personality: Derby seems to exhibit this after marrying Asenath. It turns out be because Ephraim is swapping bodies with him.

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