Shakespeare is Coming [SOON]

SONNET 18 – Language Analysis

See if you can translate this….by William Shakespeare

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st; 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. 

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Fear Essay – Woman in Black

Fear Essay Draft – The Woman in Black [chapter 9 – in The Nursery]

Fear of anything is something that we as humans have to endure at times because we are usually afraid of the unexplainable, or afraid of something that we cannot control. This is the case for Kipps in chapter 9 of the novella, who is faced with an ever increasing series of emotions that rise and wane throughout the chapter.

At the beginning of the chapter, he is sorting through the paperwork of Mrs Drablow’s estate and nothing much else is happening, but then, Spider, the dog, loaned by Mr Daily as company for him whilst in Eel Marsh House, reacts to a sound and it is this sound that gets Kipps curious as to what has caused it. He is alone with the dog in the old house and tells the reader that “every hair on her [the dog] body was on end, her ears were pricked, her tail erect, the whole of her tense, as if ready to spring.” Clearly, this is a sign of growing curiosity, rather than fear, but it also shows just how much he fears his surroundings and the strangeness of them, coupled with previous events in the village. It makes the reader ask the obvious question; what will happen next?

As the reader continues to read through the chapter, that curiosity gets the better of Kipps as he investigates further, trying to rationalise things out as he does so, with the result in his fear being shaken to breaking point. At one stage he admits that “I was shaken and my heart beat uncomfortably fast within me” showing the extent of his fears as they grow and as he gets closer to the mysterious door at the end of the passage. This idea of the room so far away is in itself is a technique used by writers, to make the reader and the chief protagonist have to walk to the end of fear itself as Kipps’ throat begins to feel “constricted and dry.”

As he gets to the end of the passage we see the words “I put my hand on the door handle, hesitated as I felt my heart again begin to rise.” Whilst this signifies an increase in his fear of the unknown that is behind the door, it also shows his willingness to find out what is causing the mysterious bumping sound. And when he goes into the room and any movement and sound ceases, adding further mystery to the events he is having to endure, he admits that his “nerve began to falter a little” and so debates the idea of giving up and returning “to the comfort of the town.” In this way, the writer is building up the suspense in the story to the point where it can return to normal, before rising again in character and reader.

This is shown to be the most evident when Kipps looks up suddenly, “startled into the present by a noise” and the reader begins to see and feel the rollercoaster ride that Kipps is on at this point in chapter 9. His fears are facing a raging battle as they go up, when he cannot explain something, and down again when he can. But towards the end of chapter 9 Kipps admits to being “hideously afraid straining into the murky, misty distance with [his] ears, to try and detect any difference…” in the sounds emanating from the strange room. This, coupled with the fact that his whole body is “trembling, [his] mouth dry, the palms of [his] hands sore…” makes the reader aware of the distress he feels as he stands “shivering, cold from the mist and the night wind.”

Chapter 9 is one of those chapters where the reader feels for the chief protagonist and shares his fear as it rages and falls. The reader also asks questions; what is in that room? Is it the sound of a ball being bounced? Or is the sound so reminiscent of a human heartbeat that the writer intends us to think of the way the human heart increases in beat speed due to rising fear? If so, then such symbolism is an excellent way to encourage the reader on with the protagonist at the same time to face the unknown.

What becomes evident throughout this chapter is the idea that fear is shown in differing ways. One minute Kipps is calm and controlled. The next he is mortified and struck with abject fear. He admits this to the reader saying “my fear reached a new height, until for a minute I thought I would die of it, was dying, for I could not conceive of a man’s being able to endure such shocks….” which in turn makes the reader empathise with him in his fear and as Kipps travels through the rest of the chapter, so too does the reader, wondering just what is going to happen next.

***                            ***                             ***

NB. If you use any ideas from here, be careful not to copy word for word as this is 830 words long and far too long to use in your [maximum] 750 word essay. These are just ideas for you and to show you how we expect to see the quotes added into the essay.

Comprehension – The Whole Story [Woman in Black]

C O M P R E H E N S I O N

 

T H E  W O M A N  I N   B L A C K

 

The idea here is to read the following text and then answer the questions or complete the tasks. Some ask for direct involvement with the text. Others are asking for your ideas but where possible, back up your thoughts using some of these words.

 

The plot of the Susan Hill novella, or short novel, The Woman In Black centres on a young solicitor named Arthur Kipps who is the main character, or chief protagonist in the tale. Kipps is summoned to Crythin Gifford, a small market town on the north east coast of the United Kingdom from his London offices, to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow. Drablow was an elderly and reclusive widow who lived alone in the desolate and secluded Eel Marsh House.

The house is situated on Nine Lives Causeway. At high tide, it is completely cut off from the mainland, surrounded only by marshes and sea frets. This adds to the mystery of the story, making the reader feel the isolation of the place and the ensuing ghost. But Kipps soon realizes that there is more to Alice Drablow than he originally thinks at first and at the funeral, he sees a woman dressed in black, with a pale face and dark eyes, which a group of children are silently watching.

Over the course of several days, while sorting through Mrs Drablow’s papers at Eel Marsh House, he endures an increasingly terrifying sequence of unexplained noises, chilling events and hauntings by the Woman in Black. In one of these instances, he hears the sound of a horse and carriage in distress, closely followed by the screams of a young child and his maid, coming from the direction of the marshes.

Most of the people in Crythin Gifford are reluctant to reveal information about Mrs Drablow and the mysterious Woman in Black. Any attempts by Kipps to find out the truth cause pained and fearful reactions. From various sources, Kipps learns that Mrs Drablow’s sister, Jennet Humfrye, once gave birth to a child, but because she was unmarried, she was forced to give the child to her sister. Mrs Drablow and her husband adopted the boy, called Nathaniel, insisting that he should never know that Jennet was his mother. The child’s screams that Kipps hear are those of Nathaniel.

Jennet goes away for a year; however, after realizing she cannot be parted for long from her son, she makes an agreement to be able to stay at Eel Marsh House with him as long as she never reveals her true identity to him. One day, a horse and carriage carrying the boy across the causeway become lost and sank into the marshes, killing all aboard, while Jennet looked on helplessly from the window of Eel Marsh House. This is particularly distressing for Jennet as she has become close to her son and was planning to run away and take him with her.

Jennet later dies and returned to haunt Eel Marsh House, as well as the town of Crythin Gifford, with a vengeful malevolence, as the Woman in Black. According to local tales seeing the Woman in Black means that the death of a child would be sure to follow.

After some time, Kipps goes back to London where he marries a woman named Stella, has a child of his own and tries to put the events at Crythin Gifford behind him. At a fair, while his wife and child are enjoying a horse and carriage ride, Kipps suddenly sees the Woman in Black once more. She steps out in front of the pony pulling the trap and startles it so greatly that it gallops away and collides with a tree, killing the child and fatally injuring Stella, who dies of her injuries ten months later. This is the Woman in Black’s vengeance.

 

Q U E S T I O N S / T A S K S

 

  1. In five sentences only, write a short summary of this plot line.
  2. List three elements in this description that you think are a part of the ghost story genre.
  3. This is a story with more than one protagonist. Explain what this means in your own writing. Use quotes to support your ideas. [at least half a page of A4]
  4. Why do you think the people of Crythin Gifford are reluctant to talk about this lady in black?
  5. Why do you think the idea of vengeance makes for a good element in any short story/novella/novel?

Woman in Black Essay

What would you put in an essay that is entitled:

Explore the ways fear is presented in The Woman in Black, with reference to the chapter “In The Nursery.”

Here is a comprehension to help you with the midsection of your essay. Follow the instructions after you have copied and pasted it into a Word document.

IN THE NURSERY

A COMPREHENSION USING QUOTES FROM CHAPTER 9 OF

THE WOMAN IN BLACK

In chapter 9 of Susan Hill’s novella, Kipps hears a sudden sound coming from the room at the end of the passage upstairs in Eel Marsh House. He is alerted to it by his companion, the dog, Spider. Up until that point, he is calm, sorting through Mrs Drablow’s papers and relics. But at this point, the dog becomes nervous, which in turn, makes Kipps nervous, as he goes to investigate the strange bumping noise, like the sound of a ball being bounced on the floor. There is only Kipps and the dog in the house so the noise is unexplainable.

Task: Using all the quotes from chapter 9 below, write a PEE chain for each one, adding as much in the explanation as you possibly can. Develop each quote into a paragraph of its own.

“Every hair on her [the dog] body was on end, her ears were pricked, her tail erect, the whole of her tense, as if ready to spring.” [page 131] 

“I was shaken and my heart beat uncomfortably fast within me.” [page 132] 

“My throat felt constricted and dry and I had begun to shiver.” [page 133] 

“I put my hand on the door handle, hesitated as I felt my heart again begin to rise.” [page 135] 

“Then my nerve began to falter a little and I decided I might pack up and return to the comfort of the town.” [page 137] 

“I looked up suddenly, startled into the present by a noise.” [page 140]

“I stood, hideously afraid straining into the murky, misty distance with my ears, to try and detect any difference…” [page 141] 

“My whole body was trembling, my mouth dry, the palms of my hands sore…”  [page 142]

I was more distressed than I could bear. I stood shivering, cold from the mist and the night wind.” [page 143]

“My fear reached a new height, until for a minute I thought I would die of it, was dying, for I could not conceive of a man’s being able to endure such shocks….” [page 144]

Another Student Does It Again…

A Drop in the Mercury

I could not believe how cold I felt. The weather had closed in on the second half of the ride wrapping us in her cold embrace, but we were used to that. Our cycling club trained every Tuesday morning throughout the year, including this dark, brooding November one. It was something more.

The near miss on my penultimate right turn had evoked an all too familiar terror. They say that, when you are about to be hit by a vehicle that you feel it, even before impact, and I knew this to be true. The fresh, clean wind is replaced buy a sickly warm blast, the evil hiss of the engine becomes a vendetta of noise looking for its victim and hands stiffen under gloves like premature rigor mortis. So far I had been lucky.

I turned, the van screeched to a halt and she, Mother Nature, blew cold, welcome breath across my face again. I rode on.

From the side road, I glanced round, briefly. The van had stopped, the driver, by the side of his vehicle was surrounded by my club-mates but instead of the usual hot headed, all too familiar shouts of accusation and burning indignation, there was only an inexplicable and eerie silence.

My hands, numb with cold, had to be coerced, like operating an unfamiliar puppet, into turning the key of the front door.  The warmth of the house hit but bizarrely did not seem to penetrate and I felt like I was watching the experience of a warm room from out in the cold.

A warm shower would do it.

The hot dutiful water almost hissed as it hit my body, steam rose from me like a blacksmith’s plunge pool and as I dried myself my towel seemed deathly cold, as if refusing to accept my body heat.

As I dressed I heard the sharp sound of gravel under rubber and a car door slam; I raced downstairs.

My Wife’s all too familiar shadow appeared in the door’s frosted glass, shorter seeming than normal, and the two out rigging smaller but unusually still shapes telegraphed that the girls were with her too.

I glanced at the clock, 11.35, It must have stopped this morning when I was out on my ride but even so I knew it was far too early for them to be home, normally.

The door flew open and what hit my eyes pulsated warm but poisonous fear around my cold body. My wife, usually so immaculately made up had only a few traces of mascara left, tear after tear had purged her face of it. The whiteness of her face in an instant told me these were the very real tears of sorrow, not anger. My girls, behind her, clung to one another in mutual support, their faces buried within each other. They all walked past, not looking in my direction or acknowledging me in any way. As I reached out to touch Beth, my youngest, I felt her body give an involuntary shiver.

What was so wrong? What had happened? What?

My wife’s job? No. My girls? Not my girls, my beautiful girls, what could have happened to my babies?

I went to cry out to them, my wife, stood by the mantelpiece head bowed, and my girls sobbing on the sofa, but no sound would come. Why would they not talk to me or even look at me?

Then, very slowly, my wife lifted her head, fixed me with an icy stare and moved towards me. I readied myself for her warm touch and embrace, for the comfort that that would bring, but as she reached me and raised her hand, it passed right through me and turned on the light.

A Student’s Work

I love it when students go for it and have a stab at doing something themselves. Here is an example. We are looking at pathetic fallacy and foreshadowing at the moment in Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. I challenged them to write a 500 [ish] word ghost story. If you can do any better then add it here…I dare you!

 

The House in the Haunted Wood 

It was a cold stormy night, the angry weather bombarding the windows of the big empty old house I had just bought. I had seen this house some years ago whilst on a hike and decided it ever came up for sale I should buy it. It was of the grandest stature in a spectacular gothic style with big tall windows; dimly lit rooms with high ceilings that had an eerie feel to them. The events of the next few days in that house will live with me for the rest of my life.

The following day I was exploring the grounds of my new property, accompanied by my dog, Bob. The weather was now calm and there was a little winter sunshine. The land the house sat on was a couple of acres; this was then surrounded by thick woodland and a small lake. As we left the house and wandered into the wood I could tell Bob was on the scent of something, as we walked further Bob’s ears pricked up as if he was homing in on something.

Eventually Bob stopped; as I walked over I could see it was just a dead rabbit. Just then something caught my eye; it was like a swirling mist which shot by me. It was not your normal mist as it moved at speed, as it did Bob and I froze. I decided we should head back to the house.

I was sat in the drawing room having a cup of tea; I glanced out of the window and saw a woman standing in the garden. I stepped outside to talk to her but she was gone. I walked back towards the house and the front door slammed shut, I tried to open it but it seemed to be stuck. I entered the house through the back door and then went to investigate why the other door would not open, but to my horror, when I got to the door it was wide open. I had tea with my family and did some reading before bed in order to calm down.

Later, I was laid in bed beside my wife and something seemed to wake me; I looked at the clock and it was 2am. I could hear voices but not make out what they were saying so I walked out into the corridor and saw the woman from earlier stood at the top of the stairs; I froze and could not move for about five minutes. My wife came out of the bedroom and asked what I was doing. I pointed to the top of the stairs and looked round, but the mysterious woman was gone. My wife was a little dismissive of the whole affair and told me to come to bed.

Later the following day, my wife and daughter had been out in the car to the local village to get some supplies. I could hear the car in the distance as it approached. Then I saw the woman again, she was standing in the middle of the road. As the car approached it swerved to try and avoid the woman, the car plunged down a ditch and hit a tree. The woman had disappeared. I ran over to the car but before I could get there it exploded. My wife and daughter did not make it out of the car.

A Difficult Decision – Original Writing

A DIFFICULT DECISION

Decisions can be difficult to make, especially when they concern the members of your family. Love them or hate them, your family are important and should take priority over any enjoyment you might be having when an emergency strikes.

This decision was not life threatening at the time, but it certainly felt like it.  Every year, for the past few years, my family and I have spent our holidays in the South of France. My brother, an engineer, lives there with his wife and family. The children are nearly all grown up now; the youngest being fourteen years of age last Easter when we went over to see them. It was to be a catastrophic journey for all concerned and one which would force me to cut our holiday short and return home; something that at the outset, I did not want to do.

          The events which transpired to destroy the holiday began before we went. I was at work, teaching year nine when my wife collapsed at home. My seven year old son was off sick himself and had telephoned the school so we arranged for her to be rushed to hospital.

This was two weeks before we were due to go on holiday. The doctor’s said that they thought it could be Meningitis or a TIA, a mini stroke. I was terrified at the prospect, but when further tests were carried out, it was neither and it was found to be a viral infection; very serious, but with plenty of rest, she would recover. The South of France was suggested as a good place to go and rest when they found out that we were going.

          My wife was still recovering when we set off on the Saturday after the end of term. My family; two children, myself and my wife, set off with the idea of rest in mind for a full ten days. It was to turn into a nightmare for all of us. The journey down was fine; eight hundred and twenty five miles in two days and two nights. Constant white lines before my eyes. When we got to our destination though, things immediately worsened.

My son is asthmatic and can be prone to terrible bouts of asthma if he gets a bad cold or the flu. On the way down, he developed a head cold, which developed further into a full attack of influenza. He was coughing and finding it increasingly hard to breathe. It got so bad that no-one could sleep very much and his behaviour worsened as a result, due to tiredness and lack of sleep.

          We then received another blow as my wife began to suffer further symptoms that were part of her illness and we began to discuss the merits of continuing with the holiday and visiting the hospital to get them both sorted out or to return home immediately. I wanted to return to England; to safety and the comfort of home and family doctor, where medicine is free for children and the care comes without cost.

          However, I did not want to cut short the holiday either, so we had a dilemma on our hands. We were totally unsure what to do and were over eight hundred miles away from home, vulnerable and dejected. It was my wife who said that I was to be the one who decided in the end, and so I was left with a very awkward decision. Was I to take us all home, knowing that it would be at least a year, if not more, before we could return, or was I to take the risk and stay, paying the fees for consultation; money we did not have at the time ?

          I spent a long, horrible day weighing the problem over, keeping quiet, which is not my usual way when on holiday. My sister in law knew something was on my mind and tried to snap me out of my concern, but it did not work. Nothing could. In the end, I did not know which way to turn, so I began to think that it would be best to return home, as quickly as possible. My son’s behaviour, as well as his illness, was getting worse and was becoming embarrassing.

          So, on the Wednesday morning, we returned home, travelling to Clermont Ferrand, through the Ardeche mountains towards our Formule 1 hotel. We got there too early, so we continued and got as far as Orleans, south-west of Paris by seven o’clock. We spent the next hour trying to get a hotel room and were stung for £68-00 due to my lack of French, as a result. The night was terrible for me as I was with my son and he was up all night, coughing until the early hours. I got approximately two hours sleep, after driving for twelve hours or so.

          The following day, we set off for Calais and home. We were supposed to stay with my sister-in-law’s sister in Rouen, but we decided to skip that and telephoned my brother to ask him to inform her of our concerns for our son. When I got off the phone we were out of money and did not even have a phone card.

We then continued to Calais and sailed back to England, returning home in the late evening. I was even sea sick on the way back !

It was a very difficult decision for me to make and one which I regret, for something happened as we got home which I still do not understand to this day. My wife and I have discussed this and we can only come to one conclusion. Our son’s illness vanished within a day and his terrible behaviour stopped. It is difficult to know whether it was a psychological attack of fear at being away from home or whether he was just being horrible in order to get us to return home. We know what we believe but we will probably never know the truth about why he behaved so terribly.

Link

Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a technique used in books and films. Here is a report about one very famous film and how things are foreshadowed in the plot. Give it a read and try to figure out how Susan Hill does this in The Woman in Black. 

Synopsis – Woman In Black

The story centres on a young solicitor named Arthur Kipps. Kipps is summoned north to Crythin Gifford, a small market town, to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow. Drablow was an elderly and reclusive widow who lived alone in the desolate and secluded Eel Marsh House. The house is situated on Nine Lives Causeway. At high tide, it is completely cut off from the mainland, surrounded only by marshes and sea frets.   

Kipps soon realizes there is more to Alice Drablow than he originally thought. At the funeral, he sees a woman dressed in black and with a pale face and dark eyes, which a group of children are silently watching. Over the course of several days, while sorting through Mrs Drablow’s papers at Eel Marsh House, he endures an increasingly terrifying sequence of unexplained noises, chilling events and hauntings by the Woman in Black. In one of these instances, he hears the sound of a horse and carriage in distress, closely followed by the screams of a young child and his maid, coming from the direction of the marshes.

Most of the people in Crythin Gifford are reluctant to reveal information about Mrs Drablow and the mysterious Woman in Black. Any attempts by Kipps to find out the truth cause pained and fearful reactions. From various sources, Kipps learns that Mrs Drablow’s sister, Jennet Humfrye, gave birth to a child, but because she was unmarried, she was forced to give the child to her sister.

Mrs Drablow and her husband adopted the boy, called Nathaniel, insisting that he should never know that Jennet was his mother. The child’s screams that Kipps heard were those of Nathaniel.

Jennet went away for a year; however, after realizing she could not be parted for long from her son, she made an agreement to be able to stay at Eel Marsh House with him as long as she never revealed her true identity to him. One day, a horse and carriage carrying the boy across the causeway became lost and sank into the marshes, killing all aboard, while Jennet looked on helplessly from the window of Eel Marsh House. This was particularly distressing for Jennet as she had become close to her son and was planning to run away and take him with her.

Jennet later died and returned to haunt Eel Marsh House, as well as the town of Crythin Gifford, with a vengeful malevolence, as the Woman in Black. According to local tales, seeing the Woman in Black meant that the death of a child would be sure to follow.

After some time, Kipps returns to London where he marries a woman named Stella, has a child of his own and tries to put the events at Crythin Gifford behind him. At a fair, while his wife and child are enjoying a horse and carriage ride, Kipps suddenly sees the Woman in Black once more. She steps out in front of the pony pulling the trap and startles it so greatly that it gallops away and collides with a tree, killing the child and fatally injuring Stella, who dies of her injuries ten months later. This is the Woman in Black’s vengeance.

 

 

Characterisation – Woman In Black

CHARACTERISATION

Here are some quotes from two actors who have played the part of Arthur Kipps.

“What initially struck me about young Kipps was his integrity. He’s a highly principled man who at the outset relishes the prospect of performing his professional duties. I considered his upbringing – he’s not upper class as such, but would consider himself a gentleman and therefore bound by a code of honour. He’s also enthusiastic, optimistic and confident – he’s well settled with a respectable firm, is engaged to be married. I see him as a rational thinker with a deep respect for the law.”

Ben Deery, The actor in the West End company of THE WOMAN IN BLACK, 2012

 

“It’s complex but there’s a real stillness to Arthur Kipps. Everything has that sort of Victorian English withheld quality. He’s somebody who has been so completely destroyed by his wife’s death that he has found it almost impossible to live in the human world for the last four years. He’s been unable to connect with people and his relationship with his son. He loves him, but he’s not there for him as he should have been. He’s not been able to give him a happy childhood so far, because he doesn’t have that capacity for happiness. And also he’s struggling to hold down his job.

 

When we meet him at the beginning, he really is a man on the edge. There is a moment [in the 2012 film adaptation] where the first time you see him he’s got a cutthroat razor to his throat. It happens that he’s shaving, but I always thought that he had definitely stood there before, considering it. For me, absolutely, it was a very interesting character to get a chance to play. I always think that the most interesting characters are the ones that you like, but you don’t know why. There’s something different about him. Particularly in the context of the time, it was very unusual, and perhaps a social stigma, to be a single father, especially that young. There’s something about him being a very natural underdog.”

Daniel Radcliffe, as part of the release material for THE WOMAN IN BLACK movie