H.P. Lovecraft

The Call Of Cthulhu

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  • Features a 3-act summary and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a professional writer with an MFA in Creative Writing
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The Call Of Cthulhu Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 20-page guide for “The Call Of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft includes a detailed 3-act summary and analysis, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 5 important quotes, and key themes like The Danger of Knowledge and Madness.


  • Author: H.P. Lovecraft
  • Publication date: February 1928
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Category: Horror
  • Format: Short story
  • Setting: Early 20th-century United States
  • Protagonist: Francis Wayland Thurston
  • Antagonist: Cthulhu, the Cthulhu cultists
  • POV: First person
  • Main themes: The danger of pursuing knowledge, mankind’s insignificance in the universe, race and “civilization”

While organizing the papers belonging to his late great-uncle Professor George Angell, Francis Wayland Thurston discovers that the old man had been investigating a worldwide religious conspiracy that he called the CTHULHU CULT. Thurston reconstructs his great-uncle’s investigation and confirms the existence of a worldwide cult, dating back to ancient prehistory. The cult’s beliefs reach even further back in time, referring to vast deathless beings that arrived on Earth from the stars eons before the advent of mankind. These beings—led by a tentacle-headed monster named Cthulhu—wait in a sunken city, neither dead nor alive, for their worshippers to release them. However, Thurston is unable to continue his investigation until quite by chance he comes across a newspaper clipping reporting mysterious events off the coast of New Zealand. The clipping leads Thurston to a first-person account, written by a sailor named Gustaf Johansen, of an encounter with the Cthulhu cult and the monstrous figure of Cthulhu itself.

Although Lovecraft considered the story “rather middling,” it is one of his most reprinted works and the most often adapted of his stories, having been the basis for a silent film, a radio play, and several comic books. The story has also been enormously influential. It stands at the center of the “Cthulhu Mythos,” a fictional mythology concerning the “Great Old Ones” who inhabited Earth long before the dawn of humanity, which recurs in much of Lovecraft’s writing and has also been taken up by other horror writers, notably August Derleth. As well as those authors who have drawn directly on the Cthulhu Mythos, there are many others who have been inspired by Lovecraft’s vision of a universe terrifyingly indifferent to humans. Horror writers like Stephen King, fantasy authors including Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, and film directors from Guillermo del Toro to John Carpenter have all drawn on Lovecraft’s fiction in their own work.

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Act I