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‘The Woman in Black’ by Susan Hill - How have the authors used the relationships between the main characters to create suspense?

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Comparative Essay 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins and 'The Woman in Black' by Susan Hill How have the authors used the relationships between the main characters to create suspense? 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins and 'The Woman in Black' by Susan Hill are similar in many ways, although they were written in different centuries. They are both mystery novels, but there are differences in the way the mystery and suspense is created. 'The Woman in White' is written from many viewpoints, and most of the characters could be considered the main characters. In my opinion, the two characters whose presences are most important are Walter Hartright and Count Fosco, who can be considered the hero and villain of the book. Mr. Hartright is involved with every character in the book, but there are several characters with which he interacts with to create suspense in different ways. The first of these is Laura Fairlie (also known as Laura Glyde). The relationship between Laura and Walter begins as friendship, but grows and develops into love. As well as the suspense of the main storyline and mystery, there is the suspense created by the romance between Laura and Walter. The reader wants to know what will happen next, especially when Mr. Hartright's 'forebodings are realised', and Miss Fairlie becomes engaged to Sir Percival Glyde. Even after leaving the country for several months, Walter returns are confesses that, 'Laura Fairlie was in all my thoughts'. Finally, the couple marry, which surprises and pleases the reader. The second character that creates suspense when interacting with Mr. Hartright is Marian Halcombe. ...read more.


The story gradually unfurls from each point of view, continually building suspense. Once the relationship is revealed by Walter, and shortly afterwards, the Count is killed, and Mr. Hartright sees 'the dreadful end of that long life of degraded ability and heartless crime'. Mr. Hartright states perfectly calmly that he had been 'struck by a dagger or knife exactly over his heart'. The reader conceives his calmness as coldness, but the following sentences remind the reader of the terrible nature of the chain of events he controlled, and the reader can relate to Walter Hartright, and is eager to learn how the book finishes. 'The Woman in Black' has very few characters in comparison to 'The Woman in White', and so uses their relationships to create suspense in different ways. In my opinion, the two main characters in the book are Arthur, from whose viewpoint the book is written, and the woman in black herself. This is similar to the good and evil relationship of the two main characters in 'The Woman in White'. Most of the points of interest and suspense in the book are in the relationship between these characters, and their relationships with others. Arthur makes very few personal relationships in the book, as he is in an unknown town and is very much isolated. One of the relationships he does make is with Samuel Daily. One of the strongest moments in their friendship is in chapter 11. Arthur is troubled by his repeated sightings of ghosts and being uncertain of what he has seen and heard. Arthur sees Samuel as a 'reassuring presence', and the reader can see that Mr. ...read more.


The relationship is one where one of the people involved is trying to protect and care for the other, and in each case, the couple is separated, although in 'The Woman in White', Walter and Laura are re-united. Another similar relationship is one of friendship. The friendship of Samuel Daily and Arthur in 'The Woman in Black' can be compared top two relationships in 'The Woman in White'. The first is the friendship between Laura Fairlie and Marian Halcombe. In these relationships, Miss Halcombe and Samuel know more about the situation than they are willing to tell their friend, and, again, are trying to protect them. The other relationship is that of Walter Hartright and Marian Halcombe, as each pair are sharing a secret and anticipating the villains next move together. The relationship between Walter Hartright and Anne Catherick can be compared to the relationship between Arthur and the Woman in black, as in each case, one of the characters is very mysterious, and the other character is very occupied with unravelling the mystery. This final comparison is the most important as it is the basis of each book, and in this way the books are very similar. However, the way the relationships are used to create suspense is very different in each book. In my opinion, 'The Woman in White' is the better book. I think that the relationships between the characters are more complicated, which makes the book more enjoyable to read, and builds suspense more. Also, the motive of the villain is more complex, and therefore the ending is more surprising, and the plot contains more twists. However, each book uses the relationships between the characters well to develop the story and build suspense. ...read more.

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