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How does Hill create tension in ‘The Sound of a Pony and Trap’? Essay

The chapter starts with Kipps walking across the Nine Lives Causeway after seeing the woman in black in the graveyard. He was already on edge because of this experience, ‘I glanced over my shoulder, half-expecting to catch sight of the black figure of the woman following me’, which makes the reader uneasy too. However Kipps tries to persuade himself that she was not a ghost and tries to forget about it, which makes him seem more blind to anything that might happen next. Kipps is completely alone on the causeway, ‘I had never been quite so alone, nor felt quite so small and insignificant’, and even ‘the few last gulls went flying home’. This creates tension by emphasising the fact that there is no one to help or protect him if anything goes wrong. Hill uses senses to create tension and suspense. When the sea fret rolled in Kipps was blinded, which made him vulnerable to not only the woman in black, but the even more likely danger of walking off of the causeway and into the marsh.

The mist ‘confused’ and ‘teased’ him, making things seem unreal and unstable which would make him more scared as anything could be near him but he can’t see it. ‘Above all, it was the suddenness of it that had so unnerved and disorientated me’ – the words unnerved and disorientated show that Kipps is not sure of himself like before, and is getting more panicked. He says ‘the walk back was a nightmare’, which is ironic as the scariest part hasn’t happened yet, but shows that Kipps thinks that this is as bad as it can get and nothing worse is going to happen, which makes him even more scared when it does. The sense of hearing is also used to create tension and suspense. ‘I heard the sound that lifted my heart’, this false hope makes the reader feel safe for a moment, which contrasts to the horror that Kipps feels next.

He realised that the mist was playing tricks with sound as well as sight, which means he can’t trust what he is hearing or seeing and gives a sense of insecurity and vulnerability. Hill describes Arthur as feeling ‘chilled and horrified’. She has chosen these verbs to emphasise the feeling of terror that Arthur feels. Both words are in the lexical field of ghost story, which creates a scary and creepy atmosphere. The effect of these verbs on the reader is that they will understand how Kipps is feeling because they will also feel these emotions. Hill uses first person narrative which makes the experience feel more personal and real, and helps the reader to empathise with Kipps and feel the terror the he is feeling.


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