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Comparing Two Ghost Stories, The Woman in Black and The Signalman.

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Introduction

Comparing Two Ghost Stories, The Woman in Black and The Signalman By Henry Cuthbertson Ghost stories are very common and popular across all ages and people all over the world. Readers are scared and fascinated by these books, and although it is hard to say why ghost stories are so popular, it is probably because the existence of ghosts can be neither proved, nor disproved. In Britain, especially in Victorian times, ghost stories were traditionally told at Christmas. During Victorian times ghost stories were extremely popular, as there were not many other forms of entertainment. Many Victorian authors wrote popular ghost stories, including Charles Dickens with 'The Signalman', and also the well known 'A Christmas Carol'. Even more recently, many authors are still writing successful and popular ghost stories, such as Susan Hill's 'The Woman in Black'. Readers are still fascinated and scared by these books. Although it is hard to say why exactly ghost stories are so popular among people of all ages, but it is probably because the existence of ghost can be neither proved, nor disproved, unlike other horror stories, or science fiction. ...read more.

Middle

Every time that Arthur Kipps saw the ghost she was always wearing the same clothes. Each time she appeared these clothes made a rustling sound, which adds to the atmosphere, and in a way, announces her presence, to the reader. Another event that is linked to the ghost is the noises out on the marsh which are heard, to the horror of the narrator. They are noises of a pony and trap walking out into the marshes, with a man and child on board, whom are pulled underneath the marsh and drowned. The ghost in 'The Signalman' is never seen in person by the narrator, but is described to him by the signalman himself. The ghost in 'The Woman in Black' is described as female, but the ghost that the signalman describes is in a male form. The signalman does not describe how the ghost looks, but describes its actions, showing how it covered its face with one arm, and violently shook the other, whilst saying "Halloa! Below there! For God's sake, clear the way!" What the ghost said to the signalman is the same as what the narrator said to him at the beginning of the story. ...read more.

Conclusion

The woman in black is obviously a malignant ghost, only existing to cause pain and suffering to others, and seeking revenge for the loss of her own child, on innocent people. In the case of the ghost who appears to the signalman, it is harder to say whether it is an evil spirit, or a benign one. In the end of the signalman, the signalman himself is killed, by a train, with the train driver carrying out the same actions, and saying the same words as the ghost had said. It is difficult to tell if the ghost was appearing to the signalman to torment and torture him, or whether it had been trying to save him, but did not have the means with which to do so effectively. I think that it was a benign spirit, which was trying to warn the signalman of his death, but could not do so. Both stories have greatly chilling atmospheres, and the fact that they are written in the first person means that you can really get to understand the emotions of the character involved, especially in 'The Woman in Black'. These stories are great examples of ghost stories, and both, although they are very different, follow the same literary tradition of many other famous ghost stories. ...read more.

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