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Comparing Two Short Ghost Stories - The old Nurse's story and The Call

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Introduction

Comparing Two Short Ghost Stories The following essay will compare two short stories written in different centuries. They both differ from one another for many reasons, one being a short story written in the nineteenth century by Elizabeth Gaskell called "The Old Nurse's Story", the other being a twentieth century piece by Robert Westall "The Call". Although both stories can be classified as ghost stories, there are many similarities and differences between them when compared. On first looking at the two stories, it is apparent that both stories are similar in the way that they presented to the reader: the ghosts are only seen towards the end of the story and in "The Call", the ghost is not seen until the very end of the story. One difference however is the fact that in "The Call", there is only one ghost whereas in "The Old Nurse's Story" there are several, even though the little girl is the main one. The ghosts in the stories however, do share a common trait, which is that both ghosts have power over their victims. In "The Call", the ghost entrances Meg so that she follows her almost to her death: "And like a sleepwalker, Meg ...read more.

Middle

However, "The Old Nurse's Story" builds tension up through a series of sinister events, which lead up to the climax of the story, when the ghosts burst out of the east wing of the house. The setting of a story can also help build up tension. Both stories are set in winter, which is a time when most ghost stories are set. There are however differences in the settings. The setting at the beginning of "The Call" is not typical to a ghost story, for it is set in a warm Samaritans office, where Geoff and Meg had brought "long red candles to light, and mince pies to heat up in our kitchen and eat at midnight". Its ending, however, is much more typical for a ghost story, set in the cold, by a river "So easy to slip in, let the icy arms embrace you, slip away". The setting in "The Old Nurse's Story" as opposed to "The Call" is a typical one for a ghost story: Cold, eerie mansion. The encounter with the ghost happens "One night- just after New Year's Day had come at last", a time when it is the coldest. ...read more.

Conclusion

In "The Call", the ghost is exorcised by being sent to the afterlife once Harry dies, whereas in "The Old Nurse's Story" the murder of the little girl is re- enacted in front of Hester, Miss Rosamond, Mrs Furnivall and Mrs Stark. On the whole, "The Call" has the traditional elements of a ghost story, however, it is modern in terms of language. This enables the reader to better understand and follow the story, as opposed to the "The Old Nurse's Story" that is a traditional ghost story, with heavy language, which detracts from the enjoyment of the story. Its predictability also works to the detriment of the story in that it ruins the element of suspense and tension. It concentrates very much on description. The element of suspense in "The Call" is very well kept by the fact that the story jumps from scene to scene and is not so descriptive, keeping the reader hooked on the story and making it a more enjoyable one, with a very unpredictable ending. In "The Old Nurse's Story", the reader is left asking themselves what will happen to Miss Rosamond and Mrs Furnivall, leaving the reader guessing, whereas in "The Call", the reader knows full well that the story is finished and that after Harry's death, the ghost will not call anymore. ...read more.

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