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'No reader of The Woman in Black Can be left in doubt about its conscious evocation of the Gothic. It is full of motifs and effects associated with that genre,' How far would you agree with this statement of the novel?

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Introduction

'No reader of The Woman in Black Can be left in doubt about its conscious evocation of the Gothic. It is full of motifs and effects associated with that genre,' How far would you agree with this statement of the novel? I agree undeniably, with the above statement, as the novel is a pastiche of the Victorian/Edwardian ghost story which is a sub-genre of the Gothic. Thus consciously evoking the Gothic. However, it could be argued that Susan Hill at times cleverly manipulates the motifs and effects associated with the Gothic genre. It is theses motifs and effects that are present in the gothic genre, which I will discuss in 'The Women in Black' (1983). I will begin by briefly discussing this essay on the genre itself The Gothic genre is a genre that has been burning artistically for centuries, ever since it was more or less invented by Horace Walpole in the classical gothic novel 'The Castle of Otranto'1765 possessed the indispensable and core elements of this genre, it was set to be a benchmark for following work in this field such as 'The Woman in White' (1860) by Wilkie Collins, 'The Italian' (1797) by Ann Radcliff, 'The Monk'(1796) by Mathew Lewis' and Bram Stokers 'Dracula' (1897). 'The Women in Black' is full of Gothic elements and conventions throughout. The reader at first realises the effectiveness of the first person narrative of the novel; this is delivered by Arthur Kipps the main character of the story. ...read more.

Middle

This is the setting were Arthur begins his ghostly narrative in an attempt to 'Exorcise' the haunting of his past. This brings to mind the idea that when Arthur dies, his accounts of events would be found by someone else like the traditional manuscript found by Jonathon Harker in Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. The other main setting of the novel is Eel Marsh House. In comparison with Monk's piece, Eel Marsh House has an air of 'strange sensation, an excitement mingled with alarm.' Eel Marsh House is projected as a place that will have you startled with excitement but also vividly perceptive at the same time. This is illustrated in the description when Arthur initially sets eyes on Eel Marsh House by saying; it was 'a tall, gaunt house' that is 'isolated' and 'uncompromising' but also on the other hand 'Handsome'. Nevertheless, Eel Marsh house is so indistinguishable of Monk's Piece in the sense of the sheer 'solitude' and 'loneliness' about the place. However, unlike Monk's Piece there is evil with a touch of wickedness about Eel Marsh House, this illustrates that Eel Marsh House is an updating of the Gothic castle. It is this Gothic aura that seems to be seducing Arthur. This idea can be unmistakably recognised when Arthur mentions that; 'I was aware of a heightened of every one of my senses, and Conscious that this extraordinary place was imprinting itself on my mind and deep on my imagination too' This cleverly hints the supernatural force that seems to be enveloping itself around Arthur, inevitably, he appears to be ...read more.

Conclusion

to the threat present; 'Every her of her body was on end, her ears were pricked, her tail erect, the whole of her tense, as if ready to spring' This form of reaction defines gothic horror capturing the idea developed by Ann Radcliffe. Another Victorian/Edwardian convention of ghost stories that cements the pastiches of the novel is how the setting is kept ambiguous. This is shown when Mr Bentley sends Arthur to Eel Marsh 'in-shire?' to 'represent the firm' at Mrs Drablow's funeral. Moreover, the context of the novel is kept unclear, because the story could be taking place after the First World War or more likely in the Edwardian period due to the lack of cars present and more significantly to the continuous appearances of a pony and trap in the novel as a leitmotif. Overall, Susan hill captures the mood of the Gothic genre and specially the sub-genre the ghost story. Hill shows a great variety of traditional gothic elements with a blend of originality and innovation by overturning the reader's expectation of the genre inconsistently within the novel. "In the woman in black" the oppressor is a woman and the victim is a man, Arthur, threatened by a powerful, impulsive and a tyramical female, where on the other hand most gothic genre have a woman as a victim. Nevertheless, this ingenious thesis by Hill is a pleasant one because undoubtedly the novel is unpredictable while still consciously evoking the gothic. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sadiq Ali (1) Alan Jones is Head of English at Simon Langton Grammar, Canterbury. ...read more.

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