• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Ghost Story - The Old Nurse's Story, by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Axe, by Penelope Fitzgerald

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Coursework - Wide Reading - The Ghost Story The Old Nurse's Story, by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Axe, by Penelope Fitzgerald "Of the two stories you have read, which do you think is the most effective ghost story? Which story do you prefer and why?" English ghost stories became popular in 1855 when a tax reform brought about the withdrawal of duty on newspapers. This brought about a magazine boom that fed the large literate middle class who were thirsty for sensation. To satisfy their readers, magazines needed stories and promised "fiction of powerful interest". Charles Dickens owned one of the most popular periodicals of the time - All the Year Round, first published in 1859. Dickens filled the bumper Christmas editions with his stories, forgoing the Christmas link to ghost stories for the modern age. They were a popular feature for the season where "pocketbooks were opened a little wider than usual". Ghost stories were much more popular in the 1900s because there were few forms of entertainment. They were a lot more effective in those days - the typical flickering candlelight and crackling fires provided a suitable atmosphere for its transmission. According to Jung, television and cinema has dampened our "primitive feelings and apprehensions". ...read more.

Middle

The end satisfactorily ties up most questions that arise. A similar enigmatic air was present in The Axe. It is bleak, even mundane, at the beginning, which contrasts greatly with the end, where the story reaches its chilling climax. Unlike The Old Nurse's Story, The Axe is very ambiguous. There are many things mentioned that seem significant at the time, but come to nothing at the end. The damp is an example of this. "...the peculiar smell (not the smell of ordinary damp)..." The damp is frequently mentioned in The Axe, but is never explained at the end. Perhaps it was a dead body buried underneath the floorboards; maybe it was nothing but the author adding to the uneasiness of the reader. Either way, the author manages to make the reader increasingly wary of what is unravelling. The tension in both stories is built up slowly. In The Axe there are subtle mentions of the damp smell and many references to death that may not be picked up on the first reading. For example, the 'severance pay' and when the boss says that: "Nobody's fault is nobody's funeral." They are morbid comments that add to the tension that the reader already feels. ...read more.

Conclusion

The description of the final ghost is horribly realistic: "The eyes were thickly filmed over, as one sees in the carcasses in a butcher's shop." It is related to something we can easily imagine and this gives us a frighteningly vivid mental image of the ghost. The enigmatic and ambiguous atmosphere to the story also adds to its effectiveness. Despite The Axe being very effective as a ghost story, I preferred The Old Nurse's Story. I found The Axe a little mundane. It did not interest me from the beginning as The Old Nurse's Story did. The latter story had interesting characters that were well-developed for such a short story. The setting, although not as effective now as it would have been in Victorian times, had some wonderful visual detail. What I liked most about The Old Nurse's Story was that it had a point to it. There were real ghosts with real histories and reasons for haunting the old manor. While The Axe could have had a point, it was unclear as to what it was. At first, the enigma of the story was intriguing, but when most of the subtle hints came to nothing, it became irritating. For these reasons, I personally preferred reading The Old Nurse's Story. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE The Signalman section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE The Signalman essays

  1. Pro Studies Coursework

    of the darkness creeping up on him than of the ghosts and ghouls that are supposedly haunting the room. The character even ensues in a battle to cancel out the darkness by relighting candles repeatedly in order to make the darkness retreat until the candle goes out and the darkness

  2. A good ghost story must contain suspense and tension - discuss

    is going to do something severe, however this tension is not sustained as it becomes amusing. The first appearance made by the ghost in the signalman is very scary as it foretells a major accident. The signalman tries to run towards the ghost but is disappointed.

  1. Discuss the effectiveness of the ghost stories by Dickens, Hughes and Rhys. Show some ...

    They also have completely different purposes and atmospheres. The Dickens story is very Gothic in its atmosphere it uses darkness and terror to get over its point. Its purpose is to scare us and give us a good thrill when reading the story. It is one of those that you read late at night in relative darkness.

  2. Short, entertaining stories were extremely popular within the Victorian era, and a number of ...

    Also, Hester is put in a vulnerable situation when she is left in Furnivall Manor which is 'peeled with age', 'desolate' and 'overshadowed', with two deaf, old ladies whom she doesn't know, and who may not protect her if the occasion arises.

  1. The Old Nurse(TM)s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell and The Signalman by Charles ...

    Hester was of a working family and went to school for most of her childhood and teenage years but has not been educated at the same level as the narrator of The Signalman, yet she does have a lot of common sense about her.

  2. Dickens ghosts. Malevolent or Benevolent

    future, to get Tom to marry the widow and to "settle...in the public-house". "I am very much obliged to you for your good opinion sir" said Tom which suggests a sense of agreement in a benevolent way. "You shall have her she shall not" the old gentleman dictated.

  1. Question: What are the ingredients of a successful ghost story?

    And the only 3 people who live there, does not want anything to do with the red room. The man in the story is given a long list of directions to reach the red room, which involves going "going down the long corridor", which already gives you a scary feeling.

  2. How effective do you find

    As one discovers more about the mystery/story more questions are posed and one feels as if the mystery is expanding, this is effective as a ghost story because it keeps the reader interested and quite afraid, not knowing what/who the signalman is, perhaps a ghost himself, or a tortured soul.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work