The most powerful theme in the novel is the INDIVIDUAL FEAR of the unknown shown by Kipps and the collective fear of what is known (but not discussed) by the residents of Crythin Gifford and the surrounding area. When Kipps first mentions his sighting of the ‘young woman with the wasted face’ to Mr Jerome at the funeral of Mrs Drablow, there is a ‘silence so deep’ that he can hear his own pulse and see Mr Jerome’s inability to speak, later described as having a ‘sickly greyish pallor’ when discussing the sighting of the woman. The fear that clearly grips and silences Mr Jerome also keeps Mr Keckwick silent about his role in the affairs that led to the death of the child on the causeway. Kipps himself is exposed to the terror caused by the unknown during the episode involving the rocking chair in the nursery. He is possessed by fear at the thought of what he will meet inside the room whose door has mysteriously opened and later is chilled by the cry of the child on the wind.
The ghost of Jennet Humfrye is the source of all the fear and repulsion in the novel, not only for her spectral presence but for her deliberate act leading to the death of Kipps’ wife and child – foreshadowed by the warning from Mr Daily that a child died whenever she appeared. Susan Hill has created a novel here that almost reeks of fear and is introduced by the narrator himself as a means for the ghost to be ‘driven’ from his memory, to lay to rest the past through a frank exposure of what had remained hidden for years – an attempt to live the rest of his life without the weight of fear. SUPERNATURAL Supernatural literally means beyond natural, so supernatural events cannot be explained by reason or scientific theory. Although, Kipps frequently tries to reassure himself that he, “Did not believe in ghosts What other rational explanation was there?” (pg. 79) It is clear that Kipps transforms throughout the novel from someone who is sceptical of the supernatural to someone who clearly believes in ghosts. This is apparent when he sees the Woman in Black for the second time and hears the tragic sounds of the Pony and the trap, “That the woman by the graves had been ghostly I now – not believed, no – knew, for certainty lay deep within me.” (pg. 97)
When Mr. Hiram B. Otis, the American Minister, bought Canterville Chase, every one told him he was doing a very foolish thing, as there was no doubt at all that the place was haunted. Indeed, Lord Canterville himself, who was a man of the most punctilious honour, had felt it his duty to mention the fact to Mr. Otis when they came to discuss terms. ‘We have not cared to live in the place ...
REVENGE When Kipps sees the Woman in Black for the second time at Eel Marsh House he recognises in her expression that she is vengeful and wants to inflict harm on others, “What I saw – as a desperate, yearning malevolence.” He later goes on to describe her as, “A poor, crazed, troubled woman, dead of grief and distress, filled with hatred and desire for revenge.” (pg. 75) Kipps is sympathetic to the ghost of Jennet Humfrye when he learns that her actions are the result of losing her child Nathaniel, first as he was adopted by her sister and secondly when he died in the accident involving the Pony and the trap. This is ironic has we learn at the end of the novel that the Woman in Black’s appearance foreshadowed the death of his wife Stella and their baby son.
ISOLATION AND THE CONSPIRANCY OF SILENCE Kipps’ isolation and vulnerability at Eel Marsh House is emphasised by the descriptions of the surrounding nature, “when the tide came in, it would quickly be quite submerged and untraceable.” (pg. 68) Moreover, many of the characters in The Woman in Black are part of a conspiracy of silence which further isolates Kipps as it is clear that they deliberately withhold information about the Woman in Black. Mr Bentley, Keckwick, Jerome, The Landlord and Samuel Daily are all part of this conspiracy of silence. Can you find examples?
SUSAN HILL’S WRITING STYLE – In your English Literature Exam you will have to EXPLAIN (C) and ANALYSE (B) the effects of a writer’s LANGUAGE and STRUCTURE. You must REVISE the following terms and be able to IDENTIFY them in the exam – can you identify a further 3 examples of each technique? GOTHIC STYLE: This novel is a pastiche (imitation) of Victorian Gothic and is written in a very similar style to Dickens’ novels. Susan Hill effectively evokes the voice of Dickens and other writers using characteristic devices such as densely detailed text, evocative descriptions and language that is lavish and dense as any Victorian tale. FIRST PERSON NARRATOR: The story is told from Arthur’s perspective and Hill uses first person narration. This device is better than third as it ensures that the reader feels closer to the person that is narrating. A further benefit is that you know what the narrator knows and it allows the reader to see change and growth. However, the reader can understand Alice Drablow’s and Jennet Humfrye’s viewpoint as Arthur reads their letters and correspondence. PATHETIC FALLACY Susan Hill uses the technique of pathetic fallacy so that the weather often reflects the mood/human emotions of the characters. We learn from the beginning how weather is important to Arthur, ‘My spirits have for many years now been excessively affected by the ways of the weather.’
The film ‘Remember the Titans’ directed by Boaz Yakin filmed in the year 2000. in this essay I will describe how a character changes throughout the movie. the character I have chosen is Gerry Bertier the captain of the titans football team, in the movie Gerry changes from races to against racism. At the start of the film Remember the Titans, Gerry Bertier rushers to a fight against black people ...
In London the fog is given the colloquial term ‘London Peasouper’ and is described as ‘menacing and sinister’ which sets an ominous tone for Kipps’ journey to Crythin Gifford. Furthermore, throughout the novel the sea frets or mists, great gales and howling winds add to Kipps’ fears when he is stranded at Eel Marsh House. IMAGERY Susan Hill also employs imagery to create vivid pictures in the reader’s minds e.g. Metaphor (describes something IS something else) – ‘That great cavern of a railway station’ (pg. 33) is like saying that King’s Cross Station is an enormous cave. Simile (compares something by saying it is AS or LIKE something else) – ‘It was a mist like a damp, clinging cobwebby thing.’ (pg. 85) is like saying the mist attached itself to Arthur like a cobweb.
Personification (gives human qualities to something inanimate) – ‘The wind will blow itself out and take the rain off it by morning,’ (pg. 35) says Samuel Daily to Arthur making the wind and rain sound almost like a human couple. FORESHADOWING This is when a writer gives clues to the reader that suggest ideas/themes or things that might happen later in the story. There is lots of foreshadowing in the opening chapter which hints to the reader that the novel will feature supernatural events, “I was then thirty-five and I had been a widower for the past twelve years. I had no taste at all for social life and, although in good general health, was prone to occasional nervous illnesses and conditions, as a result of the experiences I will come to relate.” (pg. 4)
It is difficult for the reader to feel much affection for the protagonist in Wolff’s memoir. Do you agree? This Boy’s Life, set in America in the 1950’s, is a compelling memoir by Tobias Wolff, whom recreates the frustrations and cruelties faced throughout his adolescence, as he fights for identity and self-respect. During this period of time, America underwent major changes in the political ...
LANGUAGE AND STRUCTURE DEVICES KEY TERMS
LANGUAGE DEVICE EFFECT ADJECTIVE (Describing word) Adds more vivid description. VERB (Doing word) Adds a sense of pace and urgency to the description. ADVERB (Adds more information to a verb) Adds a sense of pace and urgency to the description. SIMILES (Comparing using like or as) Helps describe people, objects, places and is usually quite literal. METAPHORS (Comparing saying it is something else) Helps describe people, objects, places and is usually an unrelated comparison. FORESHADOWING Hints and clues about the ending. PATHETIC FALLACY When the weather reflects mood and human emotion STRUCTURE DEVICE EFFECT SIMPLE SENTENCES Used to create a dramatic effect such tension. It also might suggest fear and fast-paced action or thoughts. LONG COMPLEX SENTENCES Can be used to add lots of descriptive detail; or for a character it can be like a stream of consciousness in which they reveal all their thoughts. SHORT PARAGRAPHS Used for impact and to draw attention from the reader. PUNCTUATION e.g. Ellipsis All PUNTCUATION is used for effect e.g. A author’s use of an ellipsis can be used to create a cliff hanger and suspense; or to show a character’s uncertainty.
CHARACTERS AND KEY QUOTES
ATHUR KIPPS: Arthur is the main character and the narrator. Hill’s use of first person allows the reader to be sympathetic towards Arthur and share his fear. In the first and last chapters we see him as a man approaching old age. In the first chapter Kipp’s is shaken by his step sons’ ghost stories as they renew his ‘close acquaintance …with mortal dread and terror of spirit’ (pg 9-10).
In the final chapter Arthur is completely exhausted due his difficulty in telling his terrifying experiences at Eel Marsh House – emphasised with the last word of the novel ‘Enough’. He intends that the whole world will know his ‘past horrors’ when his wife reads his tale after his death. The youthful Arthur Kipps is a privileged, well-educated, ambitious, adventurous, impatient, arrogant, brave and foolhardy. Qualities that lead him to ignore Samuel Daily’s advice and return to Eel Marsh House. He is arrogant as he confesses to having a ‘Londoner’s sense of superiority in those days’ (pg 45).
In Arthur Millers play, The Crucible, the small town of Salem is engaged in hysteria due to the accusations of children that many of the townspeople took part in witchcraft. Among the accused is John Proctor, a strong, faithful farmer. A contemporary writer, W.H. Auden, defines a modern hero, not as the doer of great deeds, but the man or woman who, in spite of all the pressures of society, ...
The first time he sees the woman in black at Alice Drablow’s funeral he feels sympathetic towards her and was concerned for her welfare ‘skin stretched over her bones’ (pg 56).
However, the second time at Eel Marsh house he is ‘filled with fear, his flesh creeps and his knees tremble’ (pg 75).
Arthur Kipp’s character is realistic and well-rounded; he reacts to the shocking events in a human way. Therefore allowing the reader to identify with the character. After the death of Stella and his baby he is a broken man. It takes him twelve years to recover the tragic events, when he buys Monk’s piece and moves in with his second wife Esme. SAMUEL DAILY Samuel Daily is a big, beefy local business man in Crythin Gifford. He is successful and not embarrassed by his wealth; which annoys other local businessmen. Daily offers Arthur advice about his work at Eel Marsh House: ‘you’re a fool if you go on with it’ (pg 118).
Although Arthur warms to Samuel Daily, he comes up with several reasons he must go back; which is when Samuel gives Arthur Spider for protection. After Arthur’s near death experience at Eel Marsh house, Mr and Mrs Daily look after him and he finished his work on Alice Drablow’s papers in their home.
After Arthur’s return to London, Samuel Daily becomes his sons Godfather and visits often. KECKWICK Keckwick is a silent man. He is very blunt and matter of fact when he returns in the middle of the night to collect Arthur after his first terrifying experience at Eel Marsh House, including the pony and trap and the Nine Lives Causeway. He was Alice Drablow’s link to the outside world; the only ‘living soul’ who saw her. The reader may feel that some amnesty was reached between him and the ghost: he also suffered a great loss when his father died driving the pony and trap with the child on it. He is very unattractive ‘his nose and much of the lower part of his face were covered in bumps and lumps and warts and…the skin was porridgy in texture and a dark livid red’ (pg 94).
“These writers explore both the social roles that confine them and the bodies that represent the confinement”. In light of this quotation, compare how the writers explore gender. ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, by Jean Rhys, and ‘Sula’ by Toni Morrison are both novels that respond to the issues of women that are confined to their social roles. Grace Nichols’ book, ...
This creates a disturbing and visual image appropriate for a ghost story. THE LANDLORD Nobody will talk about the woman in black. The ladlord is not named and his role is to create an air of mystery. He is at the centre of the conspiracy of silence and his purpose in the story is to provide Kipps and the reader with background information and to add tension and suspense.
The landlord is more significant for what he does not say rather than what he does say. “’She could hardly do otherwise, living there’ and he turned away abruptly” (pg 44).
MR JEROME Alice Drablow’s estate agent. ’When Arthur meets Mr Jerome for the second time in his office seeking help with his task (Alice Drablow’s paper) it is clear that he is a ironically a broken man ‘…his hands…were working, rubbing, fidgeting, gripping and ungripping in agitation’ (pg106).
We find out in the penultimate chapter from Mr Daily that he was victim of the woman in black and had lost a child in a tragic accident. THE WOMAN IN BLACK Approximately 60 years before Alice Drablow’s death, her unmarried 18 year old sister gave birth to a baby boy. The baby was taken against her will and given to Alice and her husband to adopt. The boy, Nathaniel, is killed with his nurse Rose Judd and Keckwick’s father. After suffering with a wasting disease, 12 years later Janet died of heart failure. She has been seeking revenge ever since; every time the ghost is seen a child dies in dreadful and violent circumstances.
As a result the villagers live in fear and dread. – Chapter 4: She had been a victim of starvation (pg 52) Very erect and still not holding a prayer book (pg 53) – Chapter 5: I had felt indescribable repulsion and fear (pg 79) She directed the purest evil and hatred and loathing (pg 75) ALICE DRABLOW Alice Drablow was an old eccentric character of Mr Bentley’s father. Kipp is given the responcibility of handing the legal requirements die to her death. She has no friends or relatives.
From the outset mystery surrounds her: Mr Bentley, Samuel Daily and the landlord’s reaction all help to create this mystery. It becomes clear that Alice was haunted by her dead sister who wanted revenge for the death of her son. STELLA Stella, Arthur’s fiancé, is always in the background. As not a fully developed character she, Kipps only refers to his life with her and his expectation for them in the future. Stella and Arthur’s son does in a tragic accident after a sighting of the woman in black. Note, all the female characters: Esme, Stella and Mrs Daily play small and underdeveloped roles. They are only required to support their husbands otherwise it would take away from the development of the ghost story. ESME AND HER FAMILY Esme and her family feature in the opening chapter: Christmas Eve. They provide a domestic context and background of normality in order to make the story seem real.
How is oppression generalised in Al Saadawi? s Woman at Point Zero Firdaus? story begins in a grimy Cairo prison cell, where she welcomes her death sentence after a life of pain and suffering. Born to a low-class Egyptian family in the countryside, she suffers from a childhood of cruelty and disregard. Her passion of education is ignored by her family (symbolized by the Secondary School ...
Practise Exam Questions
EXAM TIP: Once you’ve read your question mind map 3-4 points you can make and find a quote for each. Remember a successful quote is essential, it must be linked to the focus of the question directly and preferably have a language technique to discuss.
Question 1: Hill writes that setting is ‘so important’ in a ghost story. How does Hill present the setting of Eel Marsh House and why do you think it is important?
POINT 1: The isolation of Eel Marsh House creates an eerie and conventional setting for a ghost story.
POINT 2: The description of the weather at different points in the book emphasises a gothic horror atmosphere.
POINT 3: The use of sound within the novel is used to create tension and suspense essential for a gothic horror genre.
POINT 4: The use of the first person narrative to describe the settings position the reader to sympathise with the main character and feel fear.
Similarly to his initial sympathetic perceptions of the Woman in Black, Arthur first views Eel Marsh House and the surrounding area in a positive light. Hill employs effective imagery to describe how Kipps admires the ‘sheer and startling beauty’ of the environment around Eel Marsh House; the use of alliteration here further emphasises his wonder at viewing the place for the first time. Kipps even goes so far as to state that he would have ‘travelled a thousand miles to see’ it; the use of hyperbole here accentuates his overwhelming positive feelings but also his naivety that Eel Marsh House could be in any way harmful to him. This is highly ironic considering that later that night, after spending some time alone in the house and seeing the Woman in Black for a second time, he resolutely declares that, ‘I did not want to go back to Eel Marsh House.’ Nevertheless, although Kipps initially underestimates the house Hill conveys how impressed he was when he first sees it,
“I looked up ahead and saw, as if rising out of the water itself, a tall gaunt house of grey stone with a slate roof, that gleamed steelily in the light.”
Hill’s use of a long complex sentence adds depth to Kipps’ description and highlights how he was intensely attracted by every detail of the house. Moreover, she personifies the house in ‘as if rising out of the water itself’ to make it sound powerful and imposing; also by describing it as ‘gaunt’ it could metaphorically allude to the fact that the house has been stripped away of all life, family and in its place stands a skeleton of a house.
Arthur first views Eel Marsh House and the surrounding area in a positive light. Hill employs effective imagery to describe how Kipps admires the ‘sheer and startling beauty’ of the environment around Eel Marsh House; the use of alliteration here further emphasises his wonder at viewing the place for the first time. Kipps even goes so far as to state that he would have ‘travelled a thousand miles to see’ it; the use of hyperbole here accentuates his overwhelming positive feelings but also his naivety that Eel Marsh House could be in any way harmful to him. This is highly ironic considering that later that night, after spending some time alone in the house and seeing the Woman in Black for a second time, he resolutely declares that, ‘I did not want to go back to Eel Marsh House.’
Arthur first views Eel Marsh House and the surrounding area in a positive light. Hill employs effective imagery to describe how Kipps admires the ‘sheer and startling beauty’ of the environment around Eel Marsh House; the use of alliteration here further emphasises his wonder at viewing the place for the first time.
Arthur first views Eel Marsh House and the surrounding area in a positive light. Hill employs effective imagery to describe how Kipps admires the ‘sheer and startling beauty’ of the environment around Eel Marsh House. This shows that he is attracted by house.
EXAM TIP: In order to achieve a high grade consider how the woman in black is presented at several different points in the novel and how this impacts on the reader and characters.
Question 2: How do you respond to Hill’s presentation of the woman in black in the novel?
POINT 1: Due to the opening chapter which explained a ghost was at the centre of this tale, the reader is aware the woman in black is most likely a ghost from our very first encounter: Mrs Drablow’s funeral.
POINT 2: At points in the reader and Arthur feel sympathetic towards her.
POINT 3: Susan Hill presents the woman in black as a menacing and malicious character who causes a threat to Arthur – a conventional gothic horror ghoul.
POINT 4: When Arthur mentions the woman in black or anything associated with her, the townspeople react in a strange and bizarre manner shrouding her with mystery.