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This essay will consider the similarities and differences between the techniques and devices used to tell the story in two novels dealing with a similar theme: 'The Red Room' by HG Wells and 'A Hundred Secret Senses' by Amy Tan.

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Compare and contrast the ways in which the supernatural is dealt with in two narrative texts from different periods. This essay will consider the similarities and differences between the techniques and devices used to tell the story in two novels dealing with a similar theme: `The Red Room' by HG Wells and `A Hundred Secret Senses' by Amy Tan. It will also assess how successful these techniques and devices are in involving the reader and holding their attention. The story of the `Red Room' opens by offering the reader a clear idea as to what the theme of the book will be - ghosts. From the beginning of the story the reader gets the impression that the central character is not at all afraid of ghosts, and may not even believe in them. This compares and contrasts with, `A Hundred Secret Senses' because Olivia does not believe in ghosts either but the reader is given the impression that she fears ghosts from Kwan's stories but also is scared to believe that she has seen a ghost. Amy Tan uses many different methods to draw in the reader at the beginning of the story in `Hundred Secret Senses.' One of the first methods used is a hint about the story's central conflict to keep the reader intrigued. The first hint of a possible conflict is between the two personalities of Kwan, the new half sister and member of the family with Olivia or `Libby-ah' as Kwan calls her. There are hints to this possible conflict from the first page of the book when Olivia says `My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes.' This suggests that Olivia does not or may not share this belief. There is a similar conflict in `The Red Room' between the old pensioners who do believe in ghosts and the central character who doesn't. The reader begins to wonder if the protagonist will believe in ghosts after he has visited the Red Room. ...read more.


The reader also wants to find out about whether Olivia makes a complete transformation from not believing in ghosts to accepting Kwan's stories and believing in ghosts. "I then had to pretend the ghosts were there as part of our secret of pretending they weren't. I tried so hard to hold these contradictory views that soon I started to see what I wasn't supposed to." In the third section of the novel, most of the reader's questions have been answered. Most importantly of all, the truth about how Olivia and Kwan's father came to leave China is revealed. The reader finds that Olivia's doubts were justified and Kwan was telling the truth. This brings the reader even closer to Kwan as she was telling the truth all along. The author held the suspense from the first section to the third. It is clear from the very first paragraph of both of the stories that the theme of the books is ghosts. I chose both stories because they have similar themes; however, because `The Red Room' was written much earlier there is a striking contrast between the two stories in the way that ghosts are perceived. In `The Red Room' they are seen as a powerful force that the old people in particular are scared of, an evil force in the lives of good people. In `A Hundred Secret Senses' the ghosts are not evil but almost seen as kind because they are friends with Kwan. Ghosts seem to be more accepted in the recent novel than they were in the pre-1900's story. The novel `A Hundred Secret Senses' is trying to convey how people see and think of ghosts in different ways and how they affect people's lives in good and bad ways. The main character, Olivia, narrates most of the novel. She has a strong feeling against ghosts and doesn't want to believe Kwan's stories. ...read more.


The author achieves his intended effect by leaving the reader with deeper thoughts and consideration of their own feelings towards ghosts. I think that the objective of Amy Tan in `A Hundred Secret Senses' is to inform the reader about the different cultures of China and America, together with ghosts and the Yin world, but also to discuss the importance of relationships in families and marriage. I think that each of these objectives was successfully achieved. The reader's expectations of a happy ending are fulfilled by Olivia and Simon's marriage being recovered. Also, all questions which would have been raised by the reader are answered at the end of the story or through the development of the story. For example `Are Kwan's ghost stories real?', `Will Olivia's marriage be saved?', `Do most Chinese people in China have yin eyes?', `Was Kwan telling the truth about her father?' and other similar questions. The ending gives the reader what they want from a story because not only does it fulfil all their expectations, answer all their questions and provide them with a happy ending which sets their mind at rest, reassuring the reader that the world is not all bad, but it also has a twist to the plot when Kwan disappears and is presumed dead. Although this is sad, it leaves the reader wondering what has happened to her and it makes the novel different from others because there is not a definite close to the narrative and it almost allows the reader to create their own ending to the story. In conclusion, although the two novels are the product of different periods and different cultures, as well as one being written by a male author and the other by a female author, they both offer a satisfying and fulfilling experience through excellent storytelling techniques that keep the reader intrigued and wanting to know more right to the end. In addition, comparing and contrasting the two texts allows an appreciation of the way in which similar themes (in this case the supernatural) can be portrayed using different narrative styles and perspectives. ...read more.

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