The blood fetish The blood fetish is a short story, which is written by Morley Roberts in 1908. The gothic genre was quite popular around the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and they were known for including horrific and supernatural elements. Gothic novels often takes place in creepy environments, as old castles, dark forests and abandoned houses. It is clear to see how The blood fetish fits into this genre, as it deals with superstition, living severed hands, mystery and gloomy environment.
The setting in the start is in Africa, where Simcox Smith and Winslow had setup a camp, where Simcox Smith was laying sick. The start is also characteristic for a gothic story, which this is, as we are introduced to “creeping shadows”, “dark trees” and all this creates this gloomy setting already from the start. Later on, the story takes place in England at Haylings house, Simcox Smith’s rival. This place is also quite creepy, as it is filled with skulls and Jars containing body parts. This setting fits quite well with the time the story is written, the gothic genre was popular around this time.
The narrator in the story is an all-knowing third person, as we follow the story through several persons, and we step into their mind. In the story we follow three characters, Simcox Smith, Winslow and Hayling. Simcox Smith is an anthropologist, but with a fascination for the supernatural, and he is very determined to convince others that the supernatural exists, especially Hayling. Then we have Winslow, who is a doctor and a friend of Simcox, Winslow helps him out with his sickness and demands.
He does not really believe in the supernatural, and he tries to talk some sense into Simcox when he talks about the package to Hayling, but mostly because he thinks of it as a bit silly, since he does not believe in it. At last we have Hayling who also is an nthropologist, but opposite Simcox, Haylings does not believe in the supernatural, actually he is so much against it that he write articles where he “massacre” other anthropologists, for having a more superstitious point of view on the matter. This is also how Hayling look at Simcox, and they are actually some kind of rivals.
It is first at the end of the story that Hayling changes, this is seen after he has received the hand, and it begins to crawl out at night. Because the two women in his house experiences weird things around the hand, and they grow somewhat suspicious on the hand as it ommits more crimes, but I think their common sense tells them not to believe it. Hayling on the other hand Just blames Kate for meddling, even though both a dead mouse and cat are found near the hand, this shows he clearly does not suspect the hand.
It is first when he cannot find it that he gets suspicious, but it was first next day when he read the paper about the hand that he really understood what happened. It is clear to see that Hayling have changed his mind about the superstitious, as he destroys the article that he had written about Simcox Smith, where he would assacre him, but as Hayling is proved wrong he chooses to respect Simcox. The hand was send too Hayling from Simcox Smith, to convince him that the superstitious exists, but it is like the hand is somehow “attached” to Hayling, as it reacts to his actions.
The first time it acts, is some time after Hayling began to write the article to discard the hand, even after Sacconis strong advise to it. The last time is right after his night out, to get credit for his article against Robins-Gunter. Perhaps he had also noticed it since he destroyed the article against Simcox, as he may have feared for what came next if he published it. The title does not have much to do with the story itself, as a fetish for something is that you like something uncommon, in this case blood.
There is not any blood in the story, so I think the title are aimed towards the hand, and it describes its thirst for blood/taking lives. The message in the text are reflected in Morley Roberts view on the superstitious. The message is not about that, the supernatural is real, but Just that you should not be too skeptical about. Because towards the story, you are always reminded about Hayling’s denial toward the superstitious, only to discover in the end, that something supernatural might have ccurred.
Compared to Dracula, I think that there is a big difference and this can perhaps have something to do with that The blood fetish is a short story. I think that Dracula is much more horrific and detailed, which makes the experience much more vivid. The blood fetish does not really have so much horror in it, since Morley Robert had to put more detail into proof a point. Since Dracula is a novel that is much longer, there are put much more work in enchanting the reader and tell an as fantastic story as possible, where The blood fetish rather gives you something to think about.