The opening lines of the story carry on the fundamental idea found in most of Lovecraft’s work; that the ignorance of what truly exists in alternate dimensions of reality is a fragile solace, for if humanity were to ever discover the sheer of terror at what beings and worlds exists parallel to ours, it would not have the mental and/or emotional fortitude to withstand the shock and would descend into an inescapable madness. This is a staple of Lovecraft’s work and is very unique in its take on horror. Where many authors would support the idea of, “show, don’t tell,” Lovecraft, instead, embraces the idea that the reader can potentially conjure up more horrific and terror inducing images based on small bits of information given through text, than the author could hope to do through the use of highly descriptive diction and story telling.
The story is structured in a framed narrative, with the primary narrator studying the notes written by his Granduncle. The notes go on to describe the experience of a Police Officer who had encountered a branch of the Cthulhu Cult. The narrator discovers more information from a newspaper clipping and then finally discovers the truth behind the clay statue from a manuscript of a sailor who had an encounter with Cthulhu himself. This style is quite reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, which is also written using various narrative frames such as diary entries and newspaper clippings.
The artist serves as a means of visually stimulating the curiosity and intrigue of both the narrator as well the reader. The dreamer adds to the mysticism and obscure atmosphere of the story, with its subtle plot and slow rising, yet effective, action and intensity. The scholar does the job of solidifying the idea that the peoples in question are a globally active cult that shares practices and rituals based on an ancient cult religious idea.
Aleister Crowley, who himself was greatly involved in the occult and black magic, wrote often of beings and realities that existed beyond/parallel to ours. Claiming to communicate and have personal relationships to ancient beings, such as the Egyptian Gods, Crowley spent a large part of his life immersed in an out worldly trance like state, especially when it came to his writings and/or artwork. While some may argue that this this might be a way in which some attempt to shroud personal doubt and insecurity in the guise of higher knowledge, there are others who believe that such ways of thinking and artistic expression offer a greater spiritual fulfillment than trying to quantify and rationalize the world and reality as we know it.