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Looking further into the aspects of Gothic Horror, three short stories, 'The Black Cottage' by Wilkie Collins, 'The Old Nurse's Story', by Elizabeth Gaskell, and 'The Black Veil' by Charles Dickens were written to suit Victorian tastes,

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Introduction

Prose Study Coursework Looking further into the aspects of Gothic Horror, three short stories, `The Black Cottage' by Wilkie Collins, `The Old Nurse's Story', by Elizabeth Gaskell, and `The Black Veil' by Charles Dickens were written to suit Victorian tastes, containing morals that still make readers think about life. The writers make different choices and decisions about the direction of their story. Collins opts for the simplest storyline, as he uses the rising and falling tension to create a simple but effective plot about a young girl trapped in an isolated cottage. Dickens chooses a slightly more complicated plot, where he introduces a mysterious woman who wants help with somebody who is described as being close to death. However Gaskell decides on an altogether more exciting and complicated plot, using full-blown Gothic Horror. The main character is Hester, who is basically trying to save Miss Rosamond from ghosts of the past and their fatality. Both Collins and Gaskell have gone for a similar approach, by using first person narration. Two similar characters, Bessie and Hester, tell of their own history. Although they both tell of their past, Wilkie Collins chooses to go for a more compact telling, whereas Mrs Gaskell chooses to spread the information out over more than a page. Collins immediately captures the reader's interest because the sentences and paragraphs are not too demanding, and he manages to include telling detail in a short space. For example, he describes the setting, characters and general situation in only three short paragraphs, and wastes no time in beginning the actual story. However, Gaskell is much more long winded and tedious to begin with, as in a way a lot of thing are repeated, such as when Hester repeatedly tells us about how she doted on Miss Rosamond who took after her mother, `who was a real lady', although this adds to the effect of how much Hester adores Miss Rosamond. ...read more.

Middle

Walworth is also described as a `straggling miserable place' which makes it sound really rough, somewhere that somebody of a professional status, such as the Doctor, would not dream of visiting in normal circumstances. The life of the people who lived there is described as a `dreary waste' which makes it seem an extremely unpleasant place to go, and the reader can see that it is here that something unusual and mysterious may take place. In this section there are many vivid pictures of the lifestyle of the people who live in Walworth, including the `irregular lanes', `a ruinous and dismantled cottage', and imagery of `decay' and, `neglect'. All of these words and phrases describe the setting intensely for the reader, suggesting also that the Doctor is in danger. This also brings out Dickens' social concerns, as was familiar with these areas, because of walking to see his family in Debtors' Prison, and we know that he was interested in preventing the poverty. Similarly, the description of the setting of `The Old Nurse's Story' is also very appealing as a suspense builder. Firstly, Furnivall Manor is set in the Cumberland Fells, an isolated place, which is linked with Gothic horror literature. The isolation of the manor is again built up by Gaskell saying that it was set in a `wild park', with `gnarled thorn-trees' and `old oaks, all white and peeled with age.' The use of the trees makes the Manor seem more old and daunting, as if something has already gone wrong. The house is also described in detail, and unused wings are often associated with Gothic novels, because there is often something hidden away there, that hasn't been touched for years. This adds mystery and tension to the story, as the wood is portrayed as being very sinister, like something is festering within. The story is very much on a climax, which at this point is getting higher and higher due to this description of the `wilderness of a house'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally, `The Old Nurse's Story' I feel is the best out of the three for suspense building. The newly introduced character `the Phantom Child' turns from a phantom, to a `Spectre-Child', to a `dead child', and finally to a `wild child'. An on-going mystery entices the reader to read further, whilst new mysteries are added, like the past of Miss Grace, and all of the unanswered questions about the Phantom Child. Another mystery was the dark wound on the shoulder of the Phantom Child, as nobody knew why it was there. Extreme emotions are told of, for Miss Maude had extreme opinions of her family; `for where she loved, she loved; and where she hated, she hated.' The theme of revenge is brought in, which makes the reader think that maybe something is going to happen, where everything from the past will be straightened out, and mysteries will be revealed. The tension is built dramatically, especially with the description of the family members how they used to be, for example, describing old Lord Furnivall as a tall, old man, with grey hair and `gleaming eyes'. This shows the reader that Lord Furnivall was intimidating, and the `gleaming eyes' were very daunting, as if there was something to suspect about his mental state. All of the themes are joined together here: hatred, sentiment, pride, jealousy, revenge, and love. The description in this section is excellent, with phrases such as; `the winds howled and ravened for their prey,' being effective as it uses the Gothic feature of horrifying weather superbly. Hester's thoughts and feelings are conceived vividly because she is telling the story, and her determination to save Miss Rosamond, even though it is at her own expense, adds to the suspense. The end also has a twist in the tale, as the ghost of Miss Grace is present, although spookily she is not yet dead, and her living body faces her dead body. She finds out that she cannot put right her sin, which is sort of a moral for the story, in that your actions can lead to worse things in the future. ...read more.

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