Compare H.G. Wells' The Red Room and Farthing House by Susan Hill

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Compare H.G. Wells' The Red Room and Farthing House by Susan Hill

"There was no mistake about it. The flame vanished, as if the wick had

been suddenly nipped between a finger and thumb, leaving the wick

neither glowing or smoking, but black." Ghost stories use dark and

fear of it as a key element, and most occurrences happen in the night,

and/or in the dark.

The aim of this essay is to compare and contrast the two short stories

- The Red Room by H.G. Wells and Farthing House by Susan Hill. The Red

Room was written pre twentieth century and Farthing house was written

post twentieth century. I will mainly look at the formulaic structure

of the stories and the tension that is built up throughout them by the


A good ghost story involves a mixture of tension and an interesting

plot or storyline. The formulaic elements - e.g. old

houses/graveyards/other sinister settings, threatening

housekeepers/guests/noises, staying overnight, dark/night, threatening

weather (e.g. storms, thunder) and a death/previous ghostly history

all help to create the genre and entice the reader to continue

reading. There should be twists in the story, to help make it more

interesting, and less predictable. There is also often a lot of

mystery involved - mysterious key characters, unknown noises and

people etc.

The Red Room is a pre-20th century story, written by H.G. Wells in

1896. It is about a room that is allegedly haunted and the story is

told by a young man who is spending the night there. He starts off

extremely confidently but as the story goes on he becomes more and

more frightened and the tension increases. The Red Room is about the

personal experience of the young man whilst in the room, and his own

fear o...

... middle of paper ... plots. Some elements of the

first formula have stuck, which is why 'The Red Room' and 'Farthing

House' are so similar, although written years apart. I think that they

have stuck because they are a winning combination that attracts


Over time ghost stories have become more popular and some stories have

also been shown as films or television programmes. This shows that

they are still a popular part of culture and probably will continue to

be in the future. Films and television programmes still often stick to

the formula - setting and history, for example. However the visual

images and plots differ. Farthing House is testimony to this, the

setting is similar but the plot and purpose differs. "I was not afraid

anymore, not now that I knew who she was and why she had been there,

getting out of her bed in Cedar room, to go in search of her baby.

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