In this essay I will compare two stories - The Ostler, written in the
19th century by a man called Wilkie Coliins, and The Darkness Out
There, by Penelope Lively, written in the 20th century. They are both
horror stories, a genre which has been popular throughout the 19th, 20th
and 21st centuries. This is perhaps because, since we are no longer
scared on a daily basis, as would have been the case in medieval
times, we need to find an artificial way of creating the thrill.
I will look at the similarities and differences between the way each
story is structured, the build up of tension, the settings and the
characters. First I will summarise each story and look at their 19th
and 20th century features.
The Ostler is about an unlucky, not very bright man who has a very
vivid dream on his birthday that a woman is trying to kill him. Years
later, also on his birthday, he meets this woman again and gets
engaged to her before he realises who she is. By the time his mother
realises, it is to late and he feels he has to marry her. She turns
out to be an alcoholic and one day, after she is particularly cruel to
him, Isaac hits her. She runs away, and comes back seven days later,
on the night of his birthday, to try and attack him, in exactly the
same way as the dream-woman did. He manages to stop her and she runs
away again, this time never to be seen again, but Isaac continues to
be terrified that she will return and kill him, especially on his
The Darkness Out There is about two teenagers who are part of a group
which helps out old people with things like cleaning and gardening.
They go to help one old lady and she tells them a how, in the war, she
... middle of paper ...
The stories are similar in that nothing too horrific actually happens
in either of them. They are more about the character's fears.
Personally, I liked The Ostler less than The Darkness Out There, as it
deals with a more supernatural horror which only affects the character
in the story, and so did not have such an impact on me. I liked The
Darkness Out There as it makes you think, and it applies to everyone,
which makes it truly chilling. At the end Sandra is changed forever.
The wood is emptied of the fictional witches, wolves, tigers and
prowling blokes, but this does not make her feel better. The old fears
were in a way comforting - "It was cosy to think of Packer's End,
where you weren't", but the new fear cannot be shut out or escaped
from because it is a part of her, a part of every human that is
capable of unspeakable horror.
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