Compare the way Susan Hill and Mary Shelly Create tension in extracts from their novels “The Woman In Black” and “Frankenstein” Gothic Horror was born with the arrival of the book “Frankenstein” by the author Mary Shelly in 1816. This book fuelled the future wring of horror and changed the future of horror forever. The book “Frankenstein” came about after Mary had a horrific dream one night. Mary’s writing was influenced by many factors in her life.
Her father used to take her along with him to demonstrations, showing that electricity had the potential to bring people back to life, also science was largely unknown about then, there were many endless possibilities and unanswered questions. She also visited a village of clockwork dolls, which she was very impressed by. All this and the hurt of the loss of her premature baby added to the birth of the most popular book of its century. The book “The Woman In Black” by Susan Hill was written about 150 years later.
At this time science had progressed and many things that were once a mystery were now explained. There was less of the unknown; Yet Susan still managed to create this chilling tale. The extract from “Frankenstein” is set in a dreary basement, used as Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory. The very first line starts off with ‘It was on a dreary night of November… ‘ which adds to the creepy atmosphere, because the night, darkness and cold weather of the November month are usually associated with bad scary things, like chilly weather and shadows in the dark.
It then mentions that its one in the morning with heavy rain pattering against the pains, and his candle nearly burnt out, which tells you it was a barely lit room, with a dark chilling atmosphere in the middle of the night, when most are normally asleep, dreaming or having nightmares. This setting and atmosphere very much fits the gothic horror genre, leaving you with a very particular sense of tension. In “The Woman In Black” extract, we find out in the first small paragraph, is set in a small dilapidated graveyard, this is scary within its self because of a graveyards ossociation with death, ghosts and all things evil.
The second paragraph starts with ‘In the greyness of the fading light’ again adding to the dark, gloomy atmosphere with a feeling of tension of what is to come. The language used in both extracts is very sophisticated and quite complex, as is typical to the gothic horror genre, but while they both use big words “Frankenstein” is much more old fashioned in wording, obviously due to the time it was written in. Whereas in “The Woman In Black” the language used is much more modern while still keeping to the more complex wording of the gothic horror genre. It’s the first time Victor meets his creation alive in the extract of “Frankenstein”.
His reaction to the “monster” he has created very much sets up your opinion of it. The way he describes this creature clearly gives you the impression it is evil with its ‘watery eyes’ and ‘His shrivelled complexion’. In “The Woman In Black” her appearance is not described very much, the focus is more on the feelings she provokes within Arthur. He does however describe the look on her face as ‘as a desperate, yearning malevolence; it was as though she was searching for something she wanted, needed- must have, more then life itself, and which had been taken from her.
‘ Through Arthur’s thoughts and feelings being explained to you, you feel, or are supposed to feel, what he is feeling. I think the writer is very good at making you experience these dramatic emotions through the character Arthur Kipps, and I certainly was affected by how Arthur is affected when he sees the woman in black. “Frankenstein” was written at a time when science was new, strange, exciting, and threatening. Much was unexplained and seemed scary and illogical. Strange new ideas were being explored, some far fetched and some that just seemed far-fetched but were the start of vast new scientific knowledge.
People began to travel all around the world and experience many new things, different social and cultural attitudes. All this obviously had a profound affect on Mary; she began questioning things and was very aware of the reality of the world around her. In her book it sends out the message of what would happen if people started playing “god” with life. She obviously felt strongly about this and maybe feared this is what was to come. “The Woman In Black” was written about 150 years later, in a much more developed time. When science was accepted and we are used to travel, we are less religious and life is very different.
The paranormal is less unexplained and the unexplained scares people, this is why Susan has chosen the form of a ghost in her story, as it is more believable then a “monster” like Frankenstein’s creature, as we know that wouldn’t be possible knowing more about the way things work through science, yet a ghost is still unknown and unexplainable. Both extracts are very typical of the gothic horror genre. They both use complex language with big words and long flowing sentences, with only a few short ones for dramatic affect.
They both tell a story about a “creature” and the unknown at the times they were written. I personally like the extract from “The Woman In Black” the best, as I can understand the more modern language and I can relate to the story line better because the paranormal is a lot more believable to me then the creation of a “creature” from dead parts. By Jemma Burke Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Mary Shelley section.