Power in the hands of the few


In A Study in Emerald, written by Neil Gaiman, the use of heavy allusion to Lovecraft’s “The Call of the Cthulhu” along with Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet helps to create a new dynamic toward the familiarity.

The Great Old Ones are a symbol of power and authority. In the fictional world of A Study in Emerald, the Old Ones hold all of the authoritative positions in Europe. The arrival of the Old Ones centuries before the story took place created a world of “peace and prosperity (435)” out of “a world of barbarism and darkness (431)”. However, their arrival was initially met with resistance, which turns the moon into a crimson color that could represents the bloodshed which had occurred. Once they have seized power, the Old Ones maintain their position for hundreds of years. Written in 2003, A Study in Emerald could represents Gailman’s effort to call out for the awareness of what was going on around the world at the time. The year 2003 marks the beginning of the Iraq War as well as the continuation of the ongoing War in Afghanistan. The Old Ones in the story is a possible metaphor for the leaders of the Western World. The story also mention of a group of Restorationists who wishes to restore the balance before the time of the Old Ones. Rache, being one of the Restorationists, have seen the effect of what these Old Ones can do. Their treatment to some humans is “like a man sucking the flesh from a ripe peach, leaving nothing behind but the skin and the pit (435).” Analogous to what was happening at the time, the Restorationists could be compare to terrorists who wish to stop the leaders of the west from invading their beloved land, with some intention of taking the natural resources. In conclusion, the Old Ones, much like the leaders of the Western World, have in their hands great responsibilities. The decision of what they do with that responsibility shall determine the fate of the human race.

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2 comments

  1. While an interpretation for terrorism and the Iraq War is an interesting interpretation from the Great Old Ones, many political interpretations could be made from this text. For example, in 2003, North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, left the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By leaving the treaty, North Korea signaled to the world that it had intentions of acquiring a nuclear weapon. This weapon’s effect could be considered “like a man sucking the flesh from a ripe peach, leaving nothing behind but the skin and the pit” (435). Additionally, the Communist leadership could be considered to have created a world of “peace and prosperity” from “a world of barbarism and darkness” (435, 431) after the Korean War had concluded. However, Western observers must be wary of labeling this prosperity, relative to our own wealth. Additionally, the crimson moon could be a reference to the birth of Communism, as Communism is represented by a strong forceful color, which was meant to unite the world against the ruling capital class.

  2. I think that your analysis of The Old Ones as representing Western world leaders and the Restorationists as terrorists has merit. It is definitely a good modern interpretation of the story. However, I think that the story is open to a wide variety of political interpretations. I think that the story could have potential Communism vs. Democracy undertones. Gaiman grew up during the Cold War, and could have been influenced by it. So there may be an undertone of anti-Communism to the story. The “sucking the flesh from a ripe peach…” quote could portray communism as a drain on society, and that it sucks away all freedom and individual initiative. Or, the story could be a representation of the American colonials fighting for freedom in the Revolutionary War. The Restorationists could be the colonials and the Old Ones could be the ruling British monarchs. All in all, there are lots of historical and political interpretations from the relationship between the Old Ones and the Restorationists in “A Study in Emerald.”

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