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.

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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.