Mysterious Settings: A Comparison of Two Suspenseful Stories

Categories: The Raven

The setting in both of the stories is very similar because the locations in the two stories bring about a lot of mystery and suspense. The writers have very similar ideas about their stories even though they are written in different time periods in history. When something bad happens the weather is bad, for example, in "The Darkness Out There" it is raining when Mrs Rutter leaves the German man for dead. In most stories' ideas come from characters, things happen because people allow them to happen or make them happen.

Ideas could also come from the author. Kerry is a typical teenage boy.

He is shocked by Mrs Rutter's story and vows never to go "near that old bitch again" (line364). Kerry has his own principals and is not to be fooled by appearance i. e. Mrs Rutter. He forces himself not to believe that Mrs Rutter is kind and nice just because she is old. His ideas are not influenced by Mrs Rutters story.

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Mrs Rutter is described as "a cottage-loaf of a woman, with a face below which chins collapsed into one another, a creamy smiling pool of a face in which her eyes snapped and darted" (lines 97-99). This conveys her as a caring and gentle old women.

When Mrs Rutter tells us the horrific story about the plane going down and her and Dot's failure to save the man who is still alive, it becomes all the more horrific and we realise, with Sandra, that people are not always what they seems and that is what's meant by the term "The Darkness Out There.

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" Mrs Rutter is a symbolic of evil in adults. Mrs Rutter is set in her ways and her views are not changed by Kerry or Sandra. The definition of a rut is a fixed pattern or behaviour which is very difficult to change this fit the description of the behaviour of Mrs Rutter.

Sandra is a young girl who is a volunteer at the Good Neighbour's Club. She describes how when she was younger she had thought there were wolves, witches and tigers in the wood. This view changed when she was about twelve and heard that a German plane had landed there, but also heard stories about gypsies and rapists. She thinks that Mrs Rutter will be old and kind and thinks that "old Mrs Rutter with her wonky leg would be ever so pleased to see them because they were really sweet" (lines 93-94). Sandra also shows darkness within her because of the way she treated Kerry before she even knew him.

You wonder if Sandra would have walked out of Nether Cottage if Kerry did not leave, "dunno about you but I'm going," or if she would have stayed and become more like Mrs Rutter and let the evil grow inside her. In "The Old Nurse's Story" there are a variety of characters. Old women are judgmental, this could be because of the lifestyle of the period. Children are not talked about much. In "The Old Nurse's Story" the children are the main victims, they pay for a mistake made by adults. However, Hester is also a victim as she is in danger of loosing a child she loves.

In both short stories the victims are in adulthood. In both stories, a crime is committed but it is not going against the law. It is committed in the mind and it hurts someone who is innocent. The people who commit the crimes are in adulthood. In both stories the differences between the older and younger generation are shown. Old women are seen as innocent but they hold an evil aspect in them, and this is soon noticed. For example, in "The Darkness Out There" Mrs Rutter is seen by Sandra as a 'dear old thing' but then Mrs Rutter reveals her story.

In "The Old Nurses Story" Mrs Furnival behaves exactly like Mrs Rutter and hides her evilness but it is found out. In short stories or novels' things can be presented from a number of points of view. The author may reveal things as he or she sees them. We may see things through the eyes of a character. In "The Darkness Out There" the omniscient narrator jumps continually in and out of first person narration. A wide view of events is offered so we learn more quickly. The narrative voice matures as the truth unfolds. In "The Old Nurse's Story" it is in first person.

The narrator shifts from past to present when the audience learn something new. Hester narrates the story with uncertainty she learns as the reader learns. Voice of narrator is very much of social setting in previous century. Hester's voice shapes the story and influences the readers impression. Besides it being narrated in a different way both stories in one sense of narration are the same. Both stories find away of describing places and feelings in detail without running on. In "The Old Nurse's Story" slow, meandering builds up tension. Events are explained long after the events happen.

The act of re-telling and passing of information is very important to the structure. Both stories use the build up of tension. The story builds up until you actually know the truth. Therefore you have an idea of what is happening but you have got no proof. For example, In "The Darkness Out There" you know something happened in Packers End because you later find out the truth. In "The Old Nurse's Story" the nurse never finds out the whole story until the end. At the beginning the perceptions of immature children are described but towards the end sense of maturing is described.

Nurse found out about the element of evil in Mrs Furnival when she was older but Sandra and Kerry in "The Darkness Out There" learn about judgement and evil at an early age in life. The author in "The Darkness Out There" may be writing to teach moral views. For example, do not judge, because Sandra judges Mrs Rutter and Kerry. Sandra thinks as Mrs Rutter is old she is innocent of all evil. Sandra thinks Kerry is suspicious. Penelope Lively may be trying to teach us that evil lies in all of us. She is also trying to teach us that stereotypical attitudes are misleading. In "The Old Nurse's Story" it teaches you that the past is inescapable.

Status and the way in which you conduct yourself is regarded as important. In both short stories a lesson is trying to be taught. In "The Darkness Out There" it teaches you hat surface appearances are false. These two stories show the differences and similarities between short story writers even though they lived in different time periods you can recognise the same idea. The theme with both these short stories involves a concept of evil and revenge. "The Old Nurse's Story " by Elizabeth Gaskell is a short story, which is written in the first person, told by the Nurse, herself.

"The Darkness Out There" by Penelope Lively is a twentieth century short story. This story is also told in the first person, told by 'old, kind' Mrs Rutter, looking back on the times when she was younger. The way this story is written in the first person helps the readers to experience the story for themselves. If the reader can experience the same emotions as the character in the story, they are able to understand what is happening to the character because they are going through the same thing, which again, helps them to experience and understand the story more effectively.

The repeated lines also make certain parts of the story more evident to the reader. This is what Elizabeth Gaskell was probably trying to achieve when writing "The Old Nurse's Story". She wanted important features of the story to stand out, so she repeated them. The language used in both stories links it very well to the period that it was written. Although "Frankenstein" was written around the same time, it contains less archaic English words than "The Raven" and is written in a very formal style of English, which would still be used today.

Words such as "chamber" and "window lattice" put the setting of the story into context. These words describe a small, traditional periodic house that Poe wrote the story about. This helps the reader to think about the correct setting they should be imagining the story to be set in, which will add to the suspense because of the atmosphere a house like that creates. Words such as "Gilead" and "Plutonian shore" used to portray images of Heaven and Hell show that the story was written when there were different names for those places.

"The Darkness Out There" is a modern story written in the twentieth century by Winston Churchill. It tells the story of Mrs Rutter has the urge to tell someone what she has been through. The reader would believe that if she has the urge to tell the story, it must be good, but it is not. We learn that Mrs Rutter has lost her husband whom she must love because. The mood of the story changes so rapidly from positive to negative which builds up a lot of suspense in the spontaneity of it.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

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Mysterious Settings: A Comparison of Two Suspenseful Stories. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Mysterious Settings: A Comparison of Two Suspenseful Stories essay
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