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A Comparison Of 'The Bodysnatcher' and 'The Blood Bay'. How Do The Two Writers Create Different Styles Of Horror Story?

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Charlotte Hobson A Comparison Of 'The Bodysnatcher' and 'The Blood Bay'. How Do The Two Writers Create Different Styles Of Horror Story? 'The Bodysnatcher', written by R.L Stevenson, was originally published in 1878. 'The Blood Bay' written by Annie Proulx, was first published in 1999, over one hundred years after 'The Bodysnatcher'. Set in Debenham, Kent, 'The Bodysnatcher' begins at its end, with its characters considerably aged compared to the main part of the story. Edinburgh is where the story takes place, a setting which had previously been the city in which Burke and Hare's infamous bodysnatching had taken place, upon which this story is based. 'The Blood Bay' was set solely in Wyoming, Texas during the years 1886-87. In this short-story, Annie Proulx portrays horror not only through the evilness of the characters but through 'animal nasties' as well. R.L Stevenson was well known for his plagued sleep and it is thought that the horror which he experienced during his unconsciousness provided the inspiration for 'The Bodysnatcher'. This horror story also has 'human nasties', however contains strong psychological components in the shape of Grays apparent resurrection. 'The Blood Bay' uses aspects of black comedy to produce an atmosphere of horror whereas R.L Stevenson uses descriptive writing technique to create tension. The evil acts carried out in 'The Bodysnatcher' are predominantly set during hours of darkness, '...it was bitter cold, windy, and frosty; the town had not yet awakened...' This gives the reader an impression of mystery, subtly in itself creating a sensation of horror. R.L Stevenson also uses many different contrasts to emphasise the feeling behind each setting, '...by the warm radiance of the bar-room window. The George thus brightly advertised itself to passers-by in the cold street.' This description shows the audience how inviting The George appears to the public outside on the winter evening, creating the feeling of welcoming warmth and hospitality. ...read more.


This is a clever technique used by R.L Stevenson in which a strong feeling of tension is the product. Another contrast between Fettes and Macfarlane is the way in which they handle the events which unfold. At the beginning, when Fettes' suspicions about how the bodies were provided in ample amount were first confirmed, he was haunted by his conscience, '...by nights of roaring blackguardly enjoyment; and when that balance had been struck, the organ that he called his conscience declared itself content.' Simply meaning that Fettes drank himself into a stupor to escape his guilt, and only when had that been accomplished, could he try and forget about the vile dealings he'd just been involved in. Macfarlane on the other hand appears to be calm and confident about the whole situation. '...if you're a lion, you'll live and drive a horse like me...' When Macfarlane makes this statement to Fettes, it is a clear message that Fettes must be confident as well to survive the ordeal. R.L Stevensons excellent use of animal comparison produces a successful atmosphere full of tension and mystery, the very basis of a horror story. There are however psychological elements in this story, many creating the essential fear needed for a good horror story. 'A horrible sense of blackness and the treachery of fate seized hold upon the soul of the unhappy student.' This fantastic quote shows just how plagued by guilt Fettes actually is. The full extent of his self-doubt is realised and the style of horror created is very effective. Mr K, '... a certain extramural teacher of anatomy' gives the story a sense of fear due to the fact the character is based upon Dr Knox, the employer of Burke and Hare. 'His name was subsequently too well known...skulked through the streets of Edinburgh in disguise, while the mob that applauded at the execution of Burke called loudly for the blood of his employer.' ...read more.


The fact that Gray was resurrected is the guilty conscience of both parties finally becoming too much for either to handle. Fettes, the long time sufferer of guilt tips over the edge as his mind gets the better of him. Macfarlane, the character in the story who always seemed so confidant, 'Seemingly Macfarlane was affected in the same direction...' The full extent of Macfarlanes actions suddenly catch up with him and the body of Gray is what I believe to be the guilt of both these characters following them. At the beginning of the story when Fettes and Macfarlane meet again, Macfarlane seems eager to make something up to him. 'We must do something for you Fettes.' Blatantly ignoring his own and Fettes' horrific past. 'Have you seen it again? The great, rich London doctor cried out...' This quote shows that Macfarlane is still haunted by his past therefore the confidant countenance he projected in his youth seems to have been permanently scarred by the events which took place. This is the skill required when writing a story, being able to make you're audience think further than the words you have written down. R.L Stevenson has this skill; the cliff-hanger ends the story in a very emotional scene thick with tension and fear. Proulx however does not allow her audience to think deeper into the plot of 'The Blood Bay'. The words on the page are all the reader can go by and in a horror story; this style of writing isn't successful at all. In conclusion, I believe 'The Bodysnatcher' to be a much better horror story than 'The Blood Bay' simply because R.L Stevensons book contains a raw talent of horror story writing. His book is actually scary; at some points in the plot the emotions are so intense for the characters that they are palpable for the reader as well. Proulx's attempt contains humor of a kind that does not belong in a horror themed story. The fact that I laughed at certain descriptions completely contradicts the purpose of horror. ...read more.

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