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How does Susan Hill use Gothic techniques to create tension and horror in the chapter In the Nursery in The Woman in Black?

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'How does Susan Hill use Gothic techniques to create tension and horror in the chapter 'In the Nursery' in The Woman in Black?' The Woman in Black is a piece of Gothic literature, which attempts to both horrify and enthral the reader through the use of gothic techniques. The story centres on a young solicitor named Arthur Kipps, who is summoned to the small market town of Crythin Gifford, to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow. Furthermore, the man has been instructed to manage the legal documents of the late widow. Whilst doing this, he stays in what was the woman's residence, Eel Marsh House. However, the property is only accessible by pony and trap, due to the fact it is situated on Nine Lives Causeway. At high tide, the house is completely cut off from the mainland, with only the surrounding marshland and sea frets for company. Confined to the house, Arthur Kipps endures an increasingly terrifying sequence of unexplained noises, chilling events and hauntings, which appear to be connected to a mysterious woman he notices at the funeral. In the chapter, 'In the Nursery,' various traditional gothic conventions are used, in order to establish a sense of fear and insecurity. The author, Susan Hill, attempts to balance gothic ideas, like pathetic fallacy and ominous connotations, with gothic literary devices, such as short sentences and repetition. ...read more.


Yet Susan Hill cunningly expresses the fact that the protagonist, Arthur Kipps, is fearful. This may unbalance the reader. Perhaps Spider is right to be calm, as she senses that the situation is safe. Still, doubt brushes the reader's mind, as they know that Kipps is afraid. Therefore, questions stir within the reader; the reader starts to feel tense. Spider is used to give the reader an idea whether the situation is dangerous or safe. The dog acts like the reader's barometer of fear. However, trusting Spider may lead to a false sense of security, which means that the reader is shocked if a horrific event occurs. Connotations are the associations of a word or idea; or what the word stands for or symbolizes. Susan Hill uses ominous connotations to symbolize and suggest certain negative ideas. This can be seen when the narrator reminds the reader that: 'There was neither moonlight nor any stars visible.' The fact that it is night, and darkness is present, suggests there is danger. Moreover, as the protagonist cannot see, the author gives the implication that a mystery is yet to be solved. It is as if Arthur Kipps has no control over his fate; nor can he tell what is going to happen to him. All is hazy, dark, and unclear; the protagonist is confused and anxious. ...read more.


Susan Hill uses various techniques to mesmerize and shock the reader, the majority of which are traditional gothic conventions. There is no primary technique, as they all work together fluidly. As result of the carefully planned structure, they can increase the tension most of the time. I think that Susan Hill manages to successfully balance gothic content, such as pathetic fallacy, with gothic literary devices, like repetition. Rather than any technique being the most important, the fragile combination of all of them is what really succeeds in building up the tension and keeping the reader interested. At various moments throughout the chapter, I was waiting in suspense, feeling fearful and tense; the use of gothic technique helped me to feel this way. However, I would say that one flaw with this chapter is the fact that the pace is occasionally too slow. A swifter pace would have made the events flow more smoothly. Also, I do not consider that the reader's interest is maintained throughout. Although I realise that tension cannot be present at all times, I think the author could have entranced the reader more, using less detail to describe the settings. I found that the chapter lacked horrific description, which I would have expected in this type of genre. Yet, the tone of the writing was haunting and mysterious, and I liked that. Overall, I appreciate the author's attempts at making this chapter of The Woman in Black as captivating, intriguing and suspenseful as possible. In multiple ways, the chapter is one of success. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

5 star(s)

This is a very strong essay that addresses all of the relevant elements needed to create a successful analytical essay. A full and deep understanding of the novel and the character is demonstrated and the structure of the response is, on the whole, very good.

5 Stars

Marked by teacher Laura Gater 20/08/2013

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