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'Simple horror stories' How far is this true where the 'Woman In Black' and one other Gothic text are concerned?

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'Simple horror stories' How far is this true where the 'Woman In Black' and one other Gothic text are concerned? Gothic novels are not merely 'simple horror stories'; often the themes used reach a psychological level, tackling human nature, and the imagination. The horror aspect is used as a tool to induce fear in the reader on not only a 'physical' level but also a psychological level, themes such as loneliness, revenge, jealousy, victimisation and a need to rationalise surreal images, sounds and feelings. In all the Gothic explores human identity, a train of thought that every human being will wonder about at some point or another in their life. Discovering who and what you are is a daunting prospect, especially when realisations such as the existence of a deep evil as well as good within us all are made, leading to themes such as ever-present evil and madness. Situations such as loneliness and facing the supernatural are also frightening, and so such texts are written in style of what can be seen as 'simple horror stories' on the surface. William Patrick Day also assumes this concept: '...the descent into the Gothic underworld becomes a descent into the self in which the protagonists confront their own fears...However the conventions of the genre always externalise this process...with exotic places, creatures and events'. The Gothic concerns these thought-provoking, and naturalistic issues in 'The Woman In Black' by Susan Hill, and 'The Woman In White' by Wilkie Collins. ...read more.


in, and so these novels cannot be 'simple horror stories' for they address concerns that reach us on a much deeper level. Malice and revenge as forms of evil exist in 'The Woman In Black' herself, as a result of the immense agony and suffering she has endured, and so she is embodied in a supernatural form, which one cannot say is or is not a ghost. What is habitual in life is seen as ordinary and 'good', and she is 'unknown' for we cannot identify what she is, and has an ability to terrify and shock in an inexplicable and intense manner, making her supernatural, extraordinary and as a result emphasising evil. In 'The Woman In White' Ann Catherick is seen as the supernatural element, in terms of her description and the atmosphere created when she is present: 'Under the wan wild evening light, that woman and I were met together again; a grave between us, the dead about us, the lonesome hills closing us round on every side'. The supernatural and sublime, motifs that run throughout both novels, are a prime example of a deeper meaning hidden by an exterior of a foreboding atmosphere. In 'The Woman In Black' for example, 'there was the sound of moaning down all the chimneys of the house and whistling through every nook and cranny', and in 'The Woman In White', 'The sharp autumn breeze that scattered the dead leaves at our feet, same as cold to me, on a sudden, as if my own mad hopes were dead leaves, too'. ...read more.


a state of denial of his sixth sense, which relates to the theme of human identity -one can choose to accept that supernatural forces such as evil exist, or to be in complete denial of it. The use of dogs in both novels agree with the former option, for they are said to have a stronger sense of the phenomenal; when Sir Percival Glyde arrives Laura Fairlie's dog reacts in a negative manner, to reflect that this character has a darkness around him, and in 'The Woman In White', the dog 'Spider' whines and is frightened when something evil is about to occur. 'The Woman In Black' and 'The Woman In White' may be termed 'simple horror stories', but this is because they employ the use of pathetic phallacy, and a desolate, ruined, foreboding building or location, and frightening imagery, events, sounds and the characters reactions to create a mysterious and terrifying atmosphere. However this is merely a build up for the readers to be prepared for concepts that are even more frightening, for they affect us on a psychological level, aided by literary devices to make the novels naturalistic. Exploring human identity and liberating one's imagination are the primary themes of all Gothic novels; they lead into the themes used, such as good versus evil, malice, revenge, denial and nurturing. These novels are much more complex as a result, they are thought provoking, and we are able to identify with the characters although they endure otherworldly experiences. ...read more.

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