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Comparing "The Darkness Out There" by Penelope Lively, with "The Black Veil" by Charles Dickens - In what ways do they reflect the times in which they were written and the tastes of the particular audience?

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Comparing "The Darkness Out There" by Penelope Lively, with "The Black Veil" by Charles Dickens In what ways do they reflect the times in which they were written and the tastes of the particular audience? Throughout this coursework I will be comparing the texts, "The Darkness Out There" and "The Black Veil". I will look at the similarities and differences both texts have in comparison and comment on the way they affected the audience of their particular times. "The Darkness Out There" is a typical fairy story written in the mid fourties by Penelope Lively. The story doesn't tell us this but we can assume the date with the mentioning of such items as an "Aero Bar" and a "Blue Escort". The story begins with Sandra a young, pretty girl on her way to Old Mrs Rutters house to help her for the day, on her way she meets "slitty eyed" Kerry Stevens a fellow member of the Good Neighbours Club sent to help Mrs Rutter aswell. Kerry doesn't "go much for her" and can see that she isn't all that she seems while Sandra thinks she's just a normal, old lady. Mrs Rutter tells Kerry and Sandra about how her and her sister left a German pilot to die. Both are disgusted and shocked, Sandra realises a lot about herself and how she has experienced "an inescapable darkness". In contrast, "The Black Veil" was written by Charles Dickens in the year 1800, we can tell the date this text was written by things mentioned such as "hanging" and the date actually being mentioned in the opening lines. "The Black Veil" is about a young surgeon who encounters his first patient as a ghostly figure in a "black veil". The figure asks the surgeon to help her for someone else but can only be treated the next day. After many questions from the confused surgeon he agrees to treat the person, only to find he that he is presented with a dead corpse, hanged for stealing. ...read more.


Nowadays it takes more than money to fit into society unlike the Victorian times when money was everything it even separated people into classes. For example the surgeon is nice and intelligent, he fits into his upper class society because he has money and he has a good job. Because of this, the mysterious women may have gone to the surgeon for help because she feels he has the power to help with the amount of money and education he has. The son of the woman in "The Black Veil" probably ended up stealing because he needed money to provide for his mother, if he had been in a different society where everyone was equal and help was given to the less fortunate he wouldn't have had to steal. The mysterious women in 'The Black Veil' wears a black veil to hide her identity because she doesn't want anyone knowing she was the mother of a son who had been stealing as she is trying to fit into society and doesn't want to be discriminated against just because her son committed a crime. Both "The Black Veil" and "The Darkness Out There" portray two different societies where different actions are made by the characters to fit in with the times they were written in. Characters from both texts change and develop into something we don't expect by the end of reading them. Our view of old Mrs Rutter is meant to change because at first we expect her to be a nice old lady who has lived a proper respectable life and now in her old age needs people to help her with her house work. But as we later discover she isn't 'a dear old thing' like she was described earlier on in the story as she shows no remorse for leaving someone to die and even explains how she laughingly said to him 'you had this coming to you mate' and then cheered when she found out it was a German plane. ...read more.


Both Lively and Dickens say different things about society as they were written at different times to each other. Dickens tells us that money was a key factor in succeeding as it brought education to them who were wealthy and a life of crime to those less fortunate. Lively tells us that in a modern era we judge people by the way they look then are terribly surprised when we realise that we were totally wrong, this changes the way we look at people from then on and perhaps the way we see ourselves. Both writers have morals to their stories as they want to make us respond in reading both their texts with our actions as for us to think when we believe someone is a good or scary person without actually meeting them. My personal response to "The Black Veil" was that of a horrified nature, I couldn't believe the person in need of help was the woman's son and how desperate he must have been. It made me think about how poor people must live and the extreme things they do in order to keep themselves alive. My response to "The Darkness Out There" was different in that I was shocked by what Mrs Rutter had told Kerry and Sandra and I also questioned the way I looked upon people I don't really know. I enjoyed the suspense in "The Black Veil" and not knowing what was going to happen but was disappointed by the fact that to finish an authorial intervention was used as it brought the story to a boring end. In "The Darkness Out There" I enjoyed how Lively made out that everything was pretty and innocent when really it only seemed that way. The thing that didn't make me enjoy this story in as much parts as "The Black Veil" did was that it didn't have enough mystery and suspense. Overall both stories have morals about society and successfully have them put across in "horror" stories used to shock and disturb making you think about your actions. ...read more.

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