"The Body Snatcher" - R. L. Stevenson (1881)

Categories: Literature

The Body Snatcher is a classic horror by R. L. Stevenson, in the first paragraph, creates images of horror and how the story is based on real people called Burke and Hare, who were grave robbers in Edinburgh in 1829. The story was gripping for start to finish; it was based in an inn near London. The inn was called ‘The George’. There were storytellers, and the inn only had old oil lamps. This gave the start of the story; a sense of horror, the lamps and the storytellers allows us to know that this was an old fashioned inn.

This gave the opening scene a sense of horror and builds tension on what Fettes says: ‘Have you seen it again?’ This allows the reader to question what ‘it’ is. R. L. Stevenson writes the story so that the beginning is at the end of the story. He writes the story so that the storyteller tells he story like the narrator is a watcher over Fettes and Macfarlane and also a listener in the inn.

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Fettes was a student at a medical school of Anatomy in Edinburgh. Macfarlane was another student in the same medical school.

When Fettes hears that Macfarlane is in the inn, Fettes jumps up in shook. ‘Fettes became instantly sober: his eyes awoke.’ The reader now knows the Fettes and Macfarlane have history between them. The twist to the story is that Fettes and Macfarlane are like Burke and Hare, they wanted bodies for their anatomy class, so they started to dig up bodies from graves and Fettes realises that Macfarlane was having people murdered an Fettes realises because someone who he was talking to the day before, was murdered and taken to his house.

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Fettes was terrified of Macfarlane and went along with all his plans.

The day after in the class, Fettes watched over the other students after knowing the person was and how she ended up in the anatomy class. Jane Gailbrath? Was she murdered? Fettes quizzed himself all through the class. After this, Fettes’s mood changed, from a pleasant medical student to couldn’t careless student. This links with the twist to build tension and create realism. Macfarlane is the second biggest character; his mood throughout the story is evil and demented. He uses Fettes to get bodies for Dr K – the medical teacher.

The last section of the story is focused on the countryside and how much Fettes and Macfarlane are to Burke and Hare.

In this section, Stevenson uses many quotes to describe the mysterious and scary settings: ‘there was no sound but that of their own passage, and the incessant, strident pouring of the rain. It was pitch dark’

The graveyard was the most dramatic scene throughout the story, here is where Stevenson builds incredible tension. The light breaking gave the setting total blackness and no sounds. When they had got the body they transported it in their van and the body was bouncing from side to side, ‘the gig, flopping from side-to-side.’ This gave this scene horror an tension. This tells the reader that Fettes and Macfarlane don’t care about murdering people, but they also steal graves, like Burke and Hare. The twist at the end of the story is that the person that they have dug up is their friend Gray who was with Fettes and Macfarlane, at the start of the story. ‘Long dissected Gray’

This is a horror by R. L. Stevenson which won’t be forgotten. ‘The Body Snatcher’ and like other well know horror stories such as ‘Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde’ and ‘Dracula’ gives horror and suspence and builds tension all through the story, also creating realism and reflecting on real people, such as Burke and Hare. Stevenson’s choice of language and imagery also gave the story, horror and tension. The story gives off lots and easy to read language for the younger reader to the older reader. The twist is that the end of the story describes the changes of the characters, all reflecting on how Stevenson creates horror and builds tension.

Cite this page

"The Body Snatcher" - R. L. Stevenson (1881). (2017, Aug 27). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-body-snatcher-r-l-stevenson-1881-essay

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