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'Woman in Black'

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'Woman in Black' The story of Arthur's haunting by Jennet Humphrey is told with an effective narrative technique. The most obvious device employed, initially, by Susan Hill, is to tell the story in flashback. As soon as Arthur decides to commit his story to paper we leave the present narrative. In 'Christmas Eve', the opening chapter of the story starts full of 'Cheerfulness and bustle'. Susan Hill interests the reader when she sets up a happy atmosphere. The peaceful beginning contrasts well with the dramatic ending of violence, suddenness and 'cold fear', which seems to be dealt with briefly to prevent pain for Arthur. At the beginning of the novel the writer drops seeds that point to the future and give hints of something dreadful to come, 'Long shadow of the past', 'woven into my fibres'. Hill is signalling that something awful has happened that will always be with Arthur. This leaves many unanswered questions for the reader to think about, 'what has happened in the past to make Arthur so unhappy?' Further on in the novel the reader is introduced to Stella, Arthur's fianc�e. ...read more.


Drablow's funeral, 'Mr. Jerome looked frozen, pale'. The reactions create an element of mystery to the novel and the reader is encouraged to read on. Throughout the novel Hill describes the weather in great detail. This is apparent in the second chapter when she describes the London fog 'the thickest of London pea-soupers,' suggesting that it is dense and green. Hill gives the impression that the fog is everywhere, 'outdoors', 'hanging over the river,' and 'creeping in and out of alleyways'. Alliterative present participles are used such as, 'swirling' and 'seething' to portray a vivid picture in the reader's mind. Hill often links the detailed description of the weather with Arthur's roller coaster of emotions using pathetic fallacy. The weather is used to reflect and emphasise Arthur's feelings and frame of mind. Arthur's mind often fluctuates from being upheld and cheerful to being terrified and in despair. It is this violent change in mood and detailed emotive language that keeps the reader in suspense of what event will happen next to disrupt his feelings. When the 'thick, damp' sea mist suddenly came 'rolling over the marshes' he suddenly feels disorientated and panic sets in. ...read more.


The pattern of events throughout the novel forces the reader to expect something dreadful to happen. The rapid change in Arthur's state of mind from being so happy and cheerful, along with his surroundings in the park, to being in a state of cold fear grabs the readers attention and plays with their emotions. Whilst Stella and the baby are taking a ride in a pony and trap, Arthur spots the 'Women in Black under a tree. He quickly realises that she is about to get revenge. The pony swerved and took off. Then a 'sickening thud' was heard. The baby had been thrown out of the cart and lay 'crumpled' and dead. Stella also died from her injuries a few months later. This devastating ending shocks the readers and Hill uses effective short sentences to end Arthur's story, 'They asked for my story. I have told it. Enough.' The fact the ending is dealt with so briefly may have been to prevent pain for Arthur. The ending is a complete contrast to the warm, happy Christmas Eve that introduced us to the haunting of 'The Woman in Black'. Claire Brown 4B 26 April 2007 ...read more.

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