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What Makes The Woman In Black A Successful Ghost Story? Deals With The Location, Atmosphere, Writing Style Etc.

1599 words - 6 pages

What Makes the Woman in Black a Successful Ghost Story?The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, is indeed a successful ghost story, but what makes it so, is not violence, gore, or even bloodshed; It is the underlying, psychological fear of the unknown, which almost every person posses, or will posses, after having read the book.'It was not a story to be told for casual entertainment, around the fireside upon Christmas Eve'. From the beginning, we are held in suspense by Arthur Kipps, the self-described 'even-tempered' man, who, in the very first scene, curiously loses his temper at a Christmas Eve family gathering. This unexplained outburst provokes the reader into wondering what could have made such a seemingly calm individual fly off the handle in such a way, after an innocent rendition of fictional ghost stories by his stepchildren. This outburst, being just one of the not-so-subtle scenes from early on in the story, shows us Kipps' obvious terror of having to relive his past, especially amongst those he cares about. By not telling his family outright what has happened, Kipps leaves us the time to think about what he could possibly be so afraid of, meanwhile leaving the suspense mounting to dizzy heights, until we are brought back down to earth, with the first appearance of the woman herself.From the start of the book, Kipps has been lied to, and To create an appropriate atmosphere in which a good ghost story could take place, the author uses a series of truly uncommon place-names, such as 'Gapemouth Tunnel', 'Eel Marsh House' and the 'Nine Lives Causeway'. These names are primarily used to evoke spine-chilling imagery, but what really adds to their eeriness is the detailed description of their even eerier surroundings. Like the way the author describes Eel Marsh House as 'the most astonishingly situated house I had ever seen... isolated, uncompromising...'. The setting of Eel Marsh House is also of great importance to the story, because most of the strange things that happen to Kipps, and most of his sightings of the woman in black take place there. Since the house is empty, and is often surrounded by water, the feeling of abandonment, which we share with Kipps, is heightened, as he knows that he cannot cross the causeway when the tide is up. He is therefore left to fend for himself, against a fearful presence, that he forbids himself to believe in.The fact that we do share Kipps' feelings of abandonment, is great proof that The Woman in Black has succeeded in its task of being a good ghost story. For, by reading it, we are taken onto the marshes with Kipps and made to feel every eerie detail of Eel Marsh House, almost as if we too were in that desolate place, blocked off by water and without means of escape.The atmosphere of Crythin Gifford itself, as Kipps puts it, 'My first impressions of the little market town of Crythin Gifford were distinctly favourable.' However, it is the 'tall, gaunt house of grey stone and slate roof,' that generates the...

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