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'No reader of 'The Woman in Black', can be left in doubt about its conscious evocation of the Gothic

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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? There is absolutely no doubt that Susan Hill consciously evocates the Gothic in 'The Woman in Black'. There are many obvious conventions she uses that create a great Gothic effect throughout the novel. It is clear that this novel contains most of the elements that constitute the genre, for example, an eerie atmosphere full of mystery and suspense, and a character feeling high or overwrought emotions. This concludes the novel into a sub-genre of the Gothic, a ghost story. The Gothic has been active since the eighteenth century; the genre was especially popular within the years of The French Revolution and The Great Terror, which fell between 1789 and the 1790's. The Gothic can also be traced back to the original Goths, who were believed to have been around in the last days of the Roman Empire. However, there is no substantial proof as the Goths left almost no written records, and were mostly unheard of until the 'first Gothic revival' in the late eighteenth century. ...read more.

Middle

This maybe psychologically scarring for Arthur as he elucidates earlier in the novel, 'I could not move, it had, for the moment paralysed me, just as it had always done, it was a long-forgotten, once too-familiar sensation.' This was how he felt being forcefully plunged into darkness with no choice of hearing 'silly tales' conjured up by his stepchildren. He then later says 'I dreaded the hours of darkness that lay ahead.' His experience at Eel Marsh House has clearly mentally damaged him in a way to cause him to feel so emotionally overwrought about being in the dark, especially in his own home. 'The Woman in Black' is written from a first person perspective, allowing the audience to discover things as the character does which also creates great suspense and emphasizes the mystery of the ghostly narrative. This writing method also allows the reader to vastly imagine what the character is feeling; it is conventional that they would be feeling overwrought emotions, I think this is because making the emotions the character's feeling far more exaggerated it is easier for the reader to visualize, and it creates greater suspense. Many other conventional elements of the Gothic are used in the novel, a major one being mysterious and suspenseful atmospheres, which are usually formed using pathetic fallacy; in this novel the use of wind is greater than any other element of weather, 'During the night the wind rose.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Arthur is so haunted by the sounds of clopping hooves and screams from a young child he describes 'the sight of the woman in black... then those sounds which had caused my fears to mount to such a height that I had lost control of myself and my senses and fallen unconscious.' Susan Hill's description of The Woman in Black is vividly described, her vast use of adjectives in this passage allows us to picture this extremely 'sick-looking woman' intensely. 'Suffering... terrible wasting disease... extremely pale... thinnest layer of flesh was tautly stretched and strained across her bones... eyes seemed sunken back into her head.' The language Hill has used here is very conventionally Gothic, and is typical language to find in a ghost story. It is clear that there are elements of the supernatural, mystery and metonymy and how the narrator is feeling overwrought emotions such as the sensation of Gothic horror. Some conventions have been reworked, the use of pathetic fallacy and the gender of the tyrannical character, but I think this adds greater interest and suspense because it may shock several readers as it is unexpected. This however causes it to be more believable, especially in the period it was published, because it was thought that upper class men were too rational to have believed in supernatural and mysterious circumstances. Therefore it is evident of Susan Hill's deliberate use of Gothic conventions in The Woman in Black. ?? ?? ?? ?? Katie Ashworth ...read more.

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