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Comparing Mystery Stories - "A Superstitious Man's story" by Thomas Hardy (1894) "Night Fears" by L.P. Hartley (1924).

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Introduction

Comparing Mystery Stories Robert Inman Introduction I will be comparing two mystery stories, "A Superstitious Man's story" which is written by Thomas Hardy (1894) and "Night Fears" which is written by L.P. Hartley (1924). "A Superstitious Man's Story" is about a man named William Privett and his wife who live in a village, and one day as William was mowing in Mr. Hardcome's meadow with John Chiles, William Privett dies. All of the villagers believe his death to be a mystery because William was in very good health and his death was unbelievably sudden. The story is told by a member of the village community. The other characters in the story are :- Mr. and Mrs. Hardcome John Chiles Philip Hookhorn and Nancy Weedle. "Night Fears" is about a man who has a wife and two children and has taken on a new occupation as a night-watchman. Having only started two days previously, he is unused to night-work and the isolation it involves and is not sleeping well. A stranger arrives and talks to him, speaking about things that the night-watchman did not even tell him, e.g. "It's a pity you're under a contract to finish this job" The night-watchman had not mentionioned a contract. The Night-Watchman is eventually led to despair and suicide. The story is told by the writer and the other characters are:- The Night-watchman's wife and The Stranger The mysterious events in "A Superstitious Man's Story" are:- William Privett ...read more.

Middle

An explanation for William being noticed by the stream could be: William and John who had been sleeping for a long time before John noticed that William had died. Therefore, while John was asleep, William could have wandered off while still sleeping to the stream (because he seems to have a tendancy to sleep-walk). That means that he could have been at the stream, unconsciously, and back in time for John Chiles to not notice him being away. The Mysterious events in "Night Fears" are:- Who is the stranger? Why does he seem to know so much about the night-watchman? Why does he not show his face or respond to the night-watchman's approach? Why does the night-watchman kill himself? We do not know who the stranger is. The night-watchman only notices him when he turns around; "Someone was sitting on the barrier, his back turned on to the night-watchman's little compound. 'Strange I never heard him come,' Thought the man......The stranger paid no attention to the watchman's slowly advancing tread. A little disconcerting." Even when the night-watchman shouted "'A fine night.' The stranger did not turn round" When asked "Won't you turn and warm your hands" by the night-watchman, the stranger replies "I prefer to warm my back." This lack of interaction makes the stranger seem disinterested or, at worst, threatening. He does not reveal his identity, he appears to want to unsettle the night-watchman. ...read more.

Conclusion

In "The Superstitious man's story" William's death is so sudden "John called to him and said it was high time to begin work again. He took no notice, and then John went up and shook him, and found he was dead." Differences The differences in the two stories are great: "The Superstitious Man's story" is narrated by a villager to a villager in a rural setting. The story is very anecdotal involving a number of village characters and written in latter-day English; "Faith I didn't think whe'are 'twas Midsummer or Michaelmas: I'd too much work to do." The story contains evidence of superstition and religious belief. "Night Fears" is a modern day story in an urban setting and most of the dialogue within the story is inside the night-watchman's head. The characters do not have any names which makes the content darker and less personal. It is also set entirely at night and is secula and interested in psychological realism; "He enjoyed the thought that held his mind for the moment, but always with some aggreable impatience for the next." In conclusion the two stories are similar in that they involve the unexpected deaths of otherwise healthy working men in mysterious circumstances. "The Superstitious man's story" is almost like an old English fable, whilst "Night Fears" is a much bleaker, modern day suspense story. Although I enjoyed both stories, I prefered "Night Fears" because I could relate to the content of the story more and the writing of the story allowed room for your own imagination. ...read more.

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