Quarter 3 Independent Reader

The Theme of Being Trapped or Powerless in Horror Stories

The Theme of Becoming Trapped

This is a very common theme in the horror genre. It has been used for ages, as feeling powerless, or being trapped and unable to escape a situation is a common fear for many people, and is a very realistic fear to have. Not only is it common in literature, it is often used in movies, television, video games, etc. However, while it is common, it does not change the fact that this theme is something most people will fear, and is a very effective central theme used to cause fear.

The Jaunt - Stephen King

The Jaunt is a horror short story, written by Stephen King. In this story, human teleportation to other planets has become a reality. Doing so is referred to as "Jaunting". The narrator describes the process, where the person being Jaunted is placed under general anesthesia. This is because during history, whenever someone is jaunted while conscious, they come out absolutely insane and with serious mental and physical health issues, one man saying the phrase "It's eternity in there" before quickly dying. This relates to the theme of being trapped because in the story, the narrator's son, holds his breath while being administered the anesthesia, to try to experience the Jaunt while concious, and see for himself what happens. The son comes out insane, screaming "It's longer than you think dad! Longer than you think!".


This relates to the overall theme of being trapped, but in this case it is focused around the idea of being trapped alone, in nothingness, for millions of billions of years - eternity even.

Autopsy Room Four - Stephen King

Autopsy Room Four is a story told through the eyes of a man who wakes up, paralyzed unable to do anything except think, lying in a room awaiting an autopsy.


This relates to the theme of being trapped, because in this story, the narrator is conscious, but unable to move or tell anyone he is alive as he slowly awaits been cut open alive. This is another type of being trapped, because while he is still alive, surrounded by people, he is unable to communicate in any way that he can still feel pain, and probably wouldn't appreciate being cut up.

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream - Harlan Ellison

This story takes place after the destruction of humanity, where there is a supercomputer with borderline god-like powers, keeps four humans trapped in an eternal hell, where he constantly tortures and mutilates the survivors. Eventually, one of the remaining human survivors manages to kill his companions, saving them from the torture. As punishment, the computer turns the last remaining survivor into an amorphous blob, to ensure that he can not harm or kill himself or anyone else. The computer then tortures the survivor for eternity.


This ties in with the other themes of becoming trapped, relating to both Autopsy Room Four's and The Jaunt's forms of being trapped. Like in Autopsy Room Four, both characters are unable to do anything, awaiting torture, while the son in The Jaunt and the survivor are both trapped for eternity. Personally, this is the most horrific form of the theme of being trapped, being trapped for eternity, unable to do anything, awaiting endless torture.

Works Cited

Works Cited

Depression. Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/ images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSo6nYhVrwdx6ZnQeqTo_OhSMu6LVL47xnPRzRZ1wQdKyYmPhWA2g>. "Glass Trapped." Escape Room Hub. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://escaperoomhub.com/ wp-content/uploads/2015/07/glass-trapped.jpg>. "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream." Bloody Disgusting. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://cdn.bloody-disgusting.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/IHNMAIMS.jpg>. "Lifeless Body." Shutterstock. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2016. <http://il2.picdn.net/shutterstock/ videos/3432407/thumb/11.jpg>.