The first-person narrator, whose alias is Dr. Duke, and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo, another "alias," are the two protagonists of the book. Although it is through Duke's eyes that the horrors unfold, he and Gonzo are almost identical in their misanthropic attitudes and fears.
The drug-induced madness, the attacks of free-floating paranoia and disorientation, and the self-destructive drinking of the characters are all summed up in Thompson's title, which has become a code phrase in his later writing. He uses it in the title of his collection of campaign reports and in various magazine articles. Fear and loathing is the only response, the narrator makes clear, to the insanity within his own drug- addled mind and without, in the world of mad greed. The term marks a black dimension where personal demonology intersects some awful nexus of cultural collapse, political breakdown, and bad karma. The fear and loathing the narrator and his attorney experience is as much for themselves as it is for Las Vegas.
(The entire section is 165 words.)