Caught In The Widow's Web Gordon Grice Analysis

Words: 1007
Pages: 5

Using a seemingly irrelevant subject to introduce an astute idea is a technique that is commonly used in the literary community. Published in Harper’s Magazine in February of 1996, the analytical essay, “Caught in the Widow’s Web” by author Gordon Grice does just this by examining the existence and evolutionary process of the black widow spider. As Harper’s Magazine mainly focuses on subjects such as culture and the arts, readers were most likely enraptured by what Grice had to say. Grice’s analysis delves into why man fears the widow, and states that its characteristics symbolize things that humans associate with what Grice refers to as “archetypal terrors.” However, Grice merely utilizes the fear-inducing oddities of the black widow as a …show more content…
One recurrent literary device shown throughout the essay is the simile. He uses this device in his descriptive writing to give the reader a more accurate image of what he is saying, as well as to give his writing a more haunting tone. An example of a simile in Grice’s writing is when he describes the widow’s ravenous eating habits. He tells the reader, “I have seen [black widows] eat scarab beetles heavy as pecans…” In this example, Grice’s comparison of a scarab beetle to a pecan shows the substantial amount of food that a black widow spider can and will consume with relentless ambition. A second example of this is Grice’s writing is when he describes his mother destroying a widow’s web and says that, “as it tore, it sounded like the crackling of paper in a fire.” This gives the reader an accurate description of what he heard, making the audience feel as if they were there to experience what he is describing. Another literary device that Grice shows is symbolism. This is most clearly displayed when he describes humans’ innate fear of the widow. “We project our archetypal terrors onto the widow. It is black; it avoids the light; it is a voracious carnivore. Its red markings suggest blood...the widow becomes an emblem for a man’s fear of extending himself into the blood and darkness of a woman…” In this selection of text, Grice shows symbolism by clearly explaining to the reader what each aspect of the black widow represents negatively in the human psyche. He explains the connections between characteristics of the black widow and the instinctive fearful response that human nature requires we give these characteristics. The darkness of both where the widow resides and the color of the arachnid could symbolize the unknown, which provokes uneasiness. The red hourglass shape on its abdomen could represent blood, which many people find frightening or grotesque simply because of what it