‘The Terror’ by Guy de MaupassantPosted: October 17, 2017
The Terror by Guy de Maupassant, 1883
The magic trick:
Jumping from humor to horror to sadness
“The Terror” evokes three key emotional feelings over the course of its small word count. It starts with comedy – our protagonist is marrying a woman he’s only just met. It moves quickly into horror – our protagonist is losing his mind, seeing ghosts. And it winds up with sadness – our protagonist is feeling completely alone. The feelings of loneliness and fear the story conjures by the end surprised me. Even as it twisted into a macabre plot, I didn’t expect such a powerful statement of what it feels like when one is staring down a potential lifetime of loneliness. And that’s quite a trick on Maupassant’s part.
Since that time I have been afraid of being alone at night. I feel that the spectre is there, close to me, around me; but it has not appeared to me again.
And supposing it did, what would it matter, since I do not believe in it, and know that it is nothing?
However, it still worries me, because I am constantly thinking of it. His right arm hanging down and his head inclined to the left like a man who was asleep–I don’t want to think about it!
Why, however, am I so persistently possessed with this idea? His feet were close to the fire!
He haunts me; it is very stupid, but who and what is he? I know that he does not exist except in my cowardly imagination, in my fears, and in my agony. There–enough of that!
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.