The Woman In Black by Susan Hill


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The Woman in Black is a gothic novel written by Susan Hill. The characters in the novel mature and grow throughout the story mentally and emotionally. Reading about the characters the audience becomes aware of the text’s issues. The issues in the text are supported by the protagonist Arthur Kipps growth and the antagonist Jennet Humfyre. Two issues in the text include: The fight against good and evil and Revenge.

Arthur Kipps is the main character. He goes through the most changes emotionally and mentally. When the audience first reads about Arthur Kipps they meet a skeptic, naive young man who believes that there are no such things as ghosts and that we will always receive a rational explanation. When Arthur Kipps is first told about Mrs. Drablow and Eel Marsh House he thinks its going to be very blissfully easy unaware of the secrets hidden in the old, proud house. Arthur’s emotions are high on end which is supported by this quote, “My emotions had now become so volatile, and so extreme, my nervous responses so near the surface, so rapid and keen, that I was living in the another dimension, my heart seemed to beat faster, my step to be quicker, everything I saw was brighter, its outlines more sharply, precisely defined.”One of the powerful emotion changes was in chapter 5 – Across the Causeway. “. . . and the dreadfulness of her expression began to fill me with fear.” Arthur is extremely frightened as anyone would be seeing a wasted face staring at you with eyes full of hated and malevolence. Another powerful bout of emotion Arthur showed was when he entered the nursery. “But for the moment at least there was nothing here to frighten or harm me, there was only emptiness, an open door, a neatly made bed and a curious air of sadness, of something lost, missing, so that I myself felt a desolation, a grief in my own heart.” Arthur felt a deep feeling of emptiness of having walked in to the locked room and seeing everything in its place not having been used in years. He felt feelings even he couldn’t even explain.

Arthur changes mentally when he goes to Eel Marsh House. After Arthur first visits the house he became haunted after hearing a child scream. When he went to the inn his face was pale. He had nightmares that night, since then Arthur hasn’t been able to have good nights sleep as the occurrences of Eel Marsh House haunted him.

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Arthur was most unnerved after he found out the secrets hidden in the Eel Marsh House. When he fell sick Jennet Humfyre the antagonist haunted every night, making him wake up in cold sweat. Jennet unsettled his mental balance immensely.

As we read about Arthur’s growth we get a deeper understanding that good does not always triumph over evil, especially when Jennet Humfyre killed his son and his wife at the end of the story.

Jennet Humfyre is the antagonist in this story; she is the Woman in Black. Her situation is complicated due to the fact that she had to give up her child to her sister and then be forced to stay away. Jennet was angry and upset and her anger was fueled when she was finally allowed to see her son that there had to be someone else in there with her. When Jennet’s love grow stronger for her son and loved her back, she planned on running away with him. The day Nathaniel drowned Jennet was watching from the window. The hate, remorse and need for revenge grew as she blamed her sister for her son’s death. When Jennet died her spirit was alive filled with hate and the need for revenge.

Jennet’s ghost scared the people of the town. When she is seen a child dies. “And whenever she has been seen, in the graveyard on the marsh, in the streets of the town, however briefly, and whoever by, there has been one sure and certain result…In some violent or dreadful circumstances, a child has died.” Although Jennet does not gain anything from killing other people’s children she still does it as her hunger for revenge is very high the reason being she wants to avenge her dead child. She kills Arthur’s child and wife. “I had seen the ghost of Jennet Humfrye and she had her revenge”

In the Woman in Black we the readers became aware of the text’s issues as we read about the character’s growth and changes. We understand the book more because we understand in a deeper way about the challenges the characters went through in the book. The Woman in Black helps us understand the good and bad points in life and although we have been taught that good always triumphs over evil but as we have read in this book it is not always right. In this book we also saw what hate and the need for revenge does to a person.


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