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What are the important characteristics of an effective ghost story?

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Introduction

What are the important characteristics of an effective ghost story? Gothic horror is a genre that has remained popular throughout history. The genre originally came about when books were introduced with castles and they were based gothic architecture, art and poetry- thus the genre was given its name. It's a lot more than just the locations; gothic horror tends to include trap doors, insanity, crumbling buildings, ancestral curses and strange events. Gothic horror has influenced a lot of modern day films and books and was even a big impact on the Victorians- they were big lovers of short, macabre tales. It is said that Charles Dickens read them as a teenager and they influenced the gloominess in his works. Three examples of gothic horror stories are: 'The Red Room' by H. G. Wells (1896), 'Farthing House' by Susan Hill and 'The Axe' by Penelope Fitzgerald (1970s). 'The Red Room' is an interesting title that conjures up many images in the readers minds. The use of the colour red can create images of blood, danger, passion, love, anger, stop- most of which are appropriate for the ghost story setting whereas 'Farthing House' does not have the same effect. It can create the image of perhaps an old, gothic house but is not particularly strong. It almost gives no clue as to what the story is about. ...read more.

Middle

He is becoming uneasy and quite afraid. He even says he 'fancied' he heard a rustling, which is a definite sign of fear if he can hear things that aren't even there. He 'stands rigid' with fear also in parts and he reaches for the revolver in his pocket. Now, obviously this shows the narrator not to be as brave as he makes out to be. 'Farthing House' has a character who also begins as very strong and level-minded, but she remains this way throughout the story. It is written mostly in the past tense but has parts at the beginning and end that are present tense. She never pretends, at any point, that she is not afraid of what she has seen, but does try to rationalise events. This can be seen when she hears the sound of a baby crying but then decides that 'the noise had come from the television then'. She often makes references to the fact that she did not actually know what was going to happen, which proves that she is a reliable narrator. She says that 'it would be too easy to claim that' she 'had sensed something sinister' and that she had been 'shrouded at once in the atmosphere of a haunted house'. ...read more.

Conclusion

In ''The axe' the story comes to a climax at the end with the man locking himself in his office and the ghost of Singlebury in the other room. The fact that he describes Singlebury as having 'eyes that were thickly filmed over' adds to the fear in the end and yet the last paragraph is somehow comical to think of a man locked in his office refusing to leave. The most important elements of the gothic horror genre are suspense, clues and well-defined characters. Usually these are strong, or seemingly strong, characters. They almost certainly have a twist or major climax at the end to leave you reeling. All of the above three mentioned stories involve old buildings with a history of a depressing nature. 'The Red Room' is the story that I believe to be most successful. Though I did not think so at first, under closer analysis I have found that it has some wonderful language and use of language throughout which gives it the creepy factor that it needs. The other two are successful in their own rights but 'The Red Room' has more description and seems to be a bit deeper. It seems to be the most typical ghost story but in reality they all have strong elements of the gothic horror genre throughout. ?? ?? ?? ?? Loren Macdonald Created on February 26, 2006 Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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