Discuss how the two writers engage the Reader’s interest in their short stories.

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Discuss how the two writers engage the Reader’s interest in their short stories.

Both authors use their titles as a way of drawing in the reader by making them ask questions right from the start. Lively chose the title “The Darkness Out There” and this poses the question, “What is “The Darkness?” The word darkness foreshadows that the story is about the unexpected and evil.

In the same way, Thomas Hardy’s title “Old Mrs Chundle,” immediately begs the question  “Who is Old Mrs Chundle?” Already the reader is picturing an old lady in their mind and wants to find out more about her. Like Lively, Hardy engages the reader by posing questions through the title. Titles are a very effective way of engaging the reader right from the outset.

Also, both authors use stereotypes to engage the reader. Lively stereotyped the three main characters, Sandra, Kerry and Old Mrs Rutter. Sandra has been stereotyped as a “girly girl” who likes a “good giggle.”  Kerry is depicted as  “one of the lads,” he has “explosive acne” and “black slicked down hair.” Finally Mrs Rutter is also stereotyped as “a dear old thing.” The effect of Lively stereotyping her characters engages the reader even further.  The reader is able to easily identify with the characters and in this way quickly becomes involved with them. As well as stereotyping the characters Lively chooses to stereotype the surroundings. “She walked through the flowers, the girl, ox- eye daises and vetch cow parsley.”  This helps to build up the scene of a warm summer’s day with a girl skipping innocently through the fields. What this does is build up the stereotyping ready for when she reverses them at the end. I will go into this in further detail later on in the essay.

Hardy also stereotyped his characters. Old Mrs Chundle was a stereotypical old lady, living on her own, cooking meals for passers by.  However the Curate, in complete contrast, is a typically respectable old chap of a higher class.  We can tell this when old Mrs Chundle says “I don’t want to eat with my betters” and the language he uses such as“ Why my good woman.” Also the way he insisted on paying Mrs Chundle for his meal “I should feel much happier if you would.”  Once again, this helps the reader to picture the characters more clearly in their mind. As in The Darkness Out There, Hardy moves away from the stereotype of the Curate’s character curate slowly throughout the story. Firstly the Curate is described as “The Kind Hearted Curate” who invites Old Mrs Chundle to his parish for service “And you’ll come, if I put it up at my own expense?”  Later he turns the character round from a caring, friendly Curate to somebody who less than charitably complains about her cabbage breath. “I shall tell her not to come.” Finally at the end of the story, when Mrs Chundle dies, Hardy uses the line “ brushed the knees of his trousers, and walked on.” The brushing of the trousers symbolises the brushing away of any remorse or guilt for betraying his duties as one of “Gods People.”  

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Another technique used by Lively throughout the story is to allow the reader to witness Sandra growing up and experiencing puberty. This is shown this by the use of the structural device Packers End. At the beginning of the story Sandra fears Packers End.  When she was younger she feared the area because of “witches, wolves and tigers” But then we have an idea of her stage of puberty when her attention turns to “rape.”  Another reason we know Sandra is growing up and entering adolescence is because when they are in Mrs Rutter’s house, Mrs Rutter complimented ...

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