- In “The Thing on the Doorstep,” the domineering woman who, at the age of twenty-three, marries the thirty-eight-year-old Edward Derby. Derby’s father does not approve of her because of the crowd to which she belongs, but he is unable to prevent their marriage. Asenath—whose family comes from Innsmouth—exchanges personalities with Derby, at first only intermittently. Derby kills her to thwart her attempt to effect a permanent exchange, but her will is so strong that she still manages to accomplish the exchange even after her death. But the personality that overtakes Derby is actually not Asenath at all, but her father Ephraim, who as his own death was approaching overtook his own weak-willed daughter’s body.There are very few female characters in HPL’s fiction. None is as fully developed as Asenath, but even she is revealed to be no woman at all, but actually her father Ephraim. Derby’s resistance to Asenath’s strong will may evoke his own feelings to some of the dominating females in his own life, most notably his mother and his wife. The names Asenath and Ephraim are perhaps meant to parody a passage in Genesis, where Asenath is the wife of Joseph (41:45) and gives birth to Ephraim (46:20); HPL reverses the genealogy and makes Ephraim the father of Asenath.
An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. S.T. Joshi, David E. Schultz.
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