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Comparison of two ghost stories

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Introduction: A ghost story is a form of supernatural fiction, and is often a horror story. Ghosts often are the primary characters of the story and are usually presented with a background to create an element of mystery. Although ghost stories are mainly written to scare the reader, they can be written to serve all sorts of purposes, from comical to morality tales. Ghost stories may also feature hauntings of ghosts or spirits. Some ghost stories are often horror stories written to scare the reader, with a plot which revolves around a spirit and with the elements of guts, blood and escalating levels of fright, which are only mainly existent in horror stories. Horror stories involve the characters feeling escalating levels of fright. The reader identifies with the gradual feeling of dread and begins to feel the same. Horror stories do not have ghosts in them; they simply trigger some sort of fear response to the readers fear. The reader also generates their imagination to create some horrifying characters that truly scare. Ghost stories use ghosts in them to make them scary. The plot, which is revolved around the ghost in the story, often creates an element of mystery to what the ghost may want. A tale too outlandish is not a fine ghost story; neither is one of whose mysteries can be fully explained in the light of day. Ghosts may scare the reader as they are something that science cannot explain or understand. Nobody knows why or how ghosts exist in our world which contributes to the fear factor in ghost stories. Most ghost stories originate in the distant past, like the Shakespearian times. Telling ghost stories is an American phenomenon. Ghost stories have been around for centuries and are to stay around for centuries to come. "Laura" by Saki.(H.H.Munro) Summary of 'Laura': This short story is witty and fast-moving. The central character Laura is dying, and is talking to her friend, Amanda, about reincarnation. ...read more.


The narrator instantly recognises the man who was beckoning, as he was second of the two men walking along Piccadilly, the man with the face 'the colour of impure wax'. Casually, after beckoning, the figure disappears inside the dressing room, closing the door. The narrator walks past his bedroom and opens the door with a lightened candle in his hand. The narrator at this point had no expectations of finding the figure in his dressing room and was not surprised to find no figure in his dressing room. The narrator then turns around to see his servant 'stood amazed'. As the narrator lays hand on his servant's breast he realises the startling change in him. The servant 'trembling violently' says, "O Lord, yes, sir! A dead man beckoning," this adds to the feeling of supernatural in the story and by now the reader begins to raise questions such as: What does the man want? This suspense device used by Charles Dickens leaves the reader hanging on edge and eager to read on out of curiosity. It is also important to note that the servant felt the presence of the figure and knew what had happened even though he had his back to the door the whole time. The night after the incident the narrator sleeps uneasy and is eventually awoken in the morning by his servant, who has a letter in his hand. The letter summons the narrator 'to serve upon a jury at the forthcoming sessions at the Old Bailey.' For a day or two the narrator seems to be in two minds about whether he wants to attend the sessions or not. Finally, the narrator decides to go to the trials 'as a break in the monotony' of his life. What effect does Dickens' use of gothic elements of atmospheric description before the trial have? : Before the trial starts Dickens uses elements of darkness, dullness etc which you would normally associate with murder. ...read more.


These elements appear in an atmosphere of terror. Gothic emphasis on the description of the weather, geographical landscapes and the element of supernatural make this ghost story conform to the gothic style and make this story conventional. "Laura" by Saki.(H.H.Munro) is an unconventional ghost story as it does not contain all the typical elements of a ghost story. The settings are hardly mentioned but we are to assume that it is some type of country town, seeing as Egbert seems to run a farm. The weather is hardly mentioned and there is no evil present, in supernatural form. There is the reincarnated spirit of Laura whose actions are justified due to her candid nature. The elements of blood, guts and murder are non existent in this story. Due to the lack of all these elements this ghost story is considered to be unconventional. Out of the two stories I enjoyed "To be taken with a grain of salt" by Charles Dickens the most. Dickens uses a number of techniques which builds up the element of mystery which leaves the reader full of suspense and unable to stop reading. The elements of darkness and dullness set the mood and the tone of the story and help to build up tension. Pathetic Fallacy is used on numerous occasions putting emphasis on the intensity of the situation and helping the reader to create a vivid image in their minds. The ghostly settings also contribute to the rising tension. The plot of this story revolves around a deceased man. At the beginning when the spirit is first introduced the reader ponders as to what the spirit may want, this making the reader read on to find out. The fact that the plot of this story revolves around a ghost makes this story a conventional example of this genre as in this genre a ghost exists as an inseparable element. Also once the reader finds out the true intentions of the spirit all the mysteries are not solved and remain unsolved when the story finishes for speculation in the readers minds, the ending is widely open. ...read more.

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