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A Comparison of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and M.R. James' Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad

A Comparison of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and M.R. James' Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad

In Susan Hill's introduction to 'The Woman In Black' she mentions M.R.

James' short stories as some of the greatest ghost stories ever

written. Her appreciation of James' writing is one of the reasons for

the many similarities and differences between the two texts. Hill was

greatly inspired by the setting of 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You,

My Lad' and this results in her novel being a similar reading

experience to James' story. One of the most obvious influences on

Susan Hill's novel is the similarity between the title of M.R. James'

story and one of the chapters in 'The Woman In Black', titled 'Whistle

and I'll Come to You'.

There are also many differences in the writing style and technique

between the two texts; Susan Hill uses her own techniques for the

novel as well as using ideas from other writers. And although the two

texts are individual in their own right, the influence of 'Oh,

Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' by M.R. James on Susan Hill's

'Woman In Black' is evident not just in the introduction to the novel,

but similarities linking the two are common throughout the text.

At the beginning of both texts we meet the first similarity between

the two, the setting. Both are set in unfamiliar or unknown places,

which is the first step to create a small sense of mystery in the

story. Moving away from the familiar adds effectiveness to the eerie

storylines, the less we know about something, the more scared we can

be by it. In 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' the setting

of a seaside symbolises the edge...

... middle of paper ...

...ars many times throughout the text, sometimes

passively and sometimes aggressively.

M. R. James' 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' and Susan

Hill's 'Woman In Black' share a lot of the same qualities, due to the

large amount of influence Hill took from the James short story. The

main characters have a lot in common and the setting of the two

stories is very similar. Conversely, there are lot of differences

between the two; M.R James chose to have a passive spectre while Susan

Hill's story contains a vengeful, dangerous ghost. On the whole, they

are two very effective ghost stories that employ several writing

techniques to add effectiveness to the plot.

Comparative [Social/Cultural/Historical]

M. R. James: Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You,

My Lad [1931]

Susan Hill: The Woman In Black [1983]
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