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Ghost Stories

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Ghost Stories Ghost stories revolve around lots of Spooky tales that work on displacing the reader's fear. Some of the main techniques which make them successful involve: Fear, Drama, Danger and Suspense. However, the main idea is that they create tension too. Such stories which use tension to dramatic affect are "The Red Room" by H.G. Wells and "Farthing House" by Susan Hill; both are written in first person narrative to allow the reader to get scared along with the main character. Both stories also build tension through their Style, Setting, Structure and Language. "The Red Room" is about a ghost hunter who is a legendary ghost, "Farthing House" is about a woman who stays with her aunt at a residential house and feels and sees a woman's supernatural presence in her room - both tales have a dramatic twist at the end! Tension is created through "The Red Room's" setting in many ways - Firstly: "I can assure you, said that it will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me". This dramatic opening to the story sets the ghost hunter as a Brave, Strong character. The word 'tangible' suggests it will take more than a scary image to frighten him, yet tension is caused because the reader now expects that something will be frightening him - soon. H.G. Wells builds on this subtle tension and the supposed 'invincible man' by setting his story to contradict and unease the man's assurances, not only is he in a strange house with a legendary red room ...read more.


However there are similarities in the two authors' settings as well as differences. A growing sense of unrest is transferred to the reader through Hill's continued description; "but as I turned right and the road narrowed to a single track between trees, I began to feel nervous and anxious" this builds the reader's anticipation through description and the woman's feelings (before she has even got to the Farthing house). This is similar to 'The Red Room' which builds tension before the man gets to his legendary room - another common ghost story trait. Although both authors mainly build tension differently through their settings, they do use similar techniques to develop their use of tension to higher and lower the reader's expectations. For example, in several places, "The Red Room" raises the reader's anticipation, only to disappoint them and leave their emotions hanging; "the long draughty, subterranean......and a shadow came sweeping up after me". "The effect was scarcely what I expected.......everything was in its place". As the passage described with such cold adjectives, the reader builds up a scary image of what the passage would look like in their minds and allow their suspicions to be raised by the shadow, only to find that their images and fears dispel on entry to the room, where it is described as normal. (At this point the people downstairs pose as more of a threat then the room, which was supposed to be scary!) ...read more.


"The room felt horribly cold", "she seemed to be crying.....I felt inconsolably hopeless and sad". The use of the words "cold" and "sad" build an air of depression around the woman, yet unlike the main in "The Red Room" who runs away from his fear, the woman is intrigued and follows her. "I half run to catch her up"; "the young woman had one". Strangely Hill's situation/encounter is not resolved straight away - a different tension is used (withdrawal of information), to keep the reader hooked. The woman's resolution comes gradually in two stages; firstly, she finds a gravestone marking the death of "Eliza Maria Dolly...and also her infant daughter" which sets the woman wondering about their connection with "Farthing House" in the old days - it turns out it was for fallen women! The final stage of her resolution and the twist to the story is that she did indeed see/feel a ghost; the ghost of a young woman who last a baby and stole another to replace it, so it was her melancholy residing in the room! (dissimilar to the twist by Wells). At last this tension is dropped and understanding is gained! Hills' has gained tension through feelings and careful unraveling, whereas Wells has built tension through key words and a frantic pace. In conclusion, both stories successfully use setting, structure and language to build tension, although the techniques are similar, however, often the effects have proved to be different - probably because the main plots are so very different. Chris Lodge ...read more.

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