The Old Nurse's Story and The Night Nurse's Story

The Old Nurse's Story and The Night Nurse's Story

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This essay is based around two ghost stories, The old nurse's story and
the night nurse's story, I am to analyse these stories and talk about the
similarities in them, along with what is different about the two.

This essay is based around two ghost stories, "The old nurse's story"
and "the night nurse's story", I am to analyse these stories and talk
about the similarities in them, along with what is different about the
two, first I will look at similarities, including not only character
similarities but structure and writing styles too. The Old Nurse's
story was written by Elizabeth Gaskell and the Night Nurse's story was
written by Edith Oliver, these stories were written many years apart,
which means that their writing and structure are likely to be
different since these attributes change over time. Although this is
true, it is all too easy to consider "the night nurse's story" just an
adaptation, or another way of telling "the old nurse's story", I don't
think this is necessarily true, since there are too many differences
between them to be considered the same.

One of the more obvious similarities between the two stories, which
the reader can spot straight away, is the title. Only one word changes
between the two.

I think Edith Oliver did this intentionally, to bring to the attention
of the reader that these two stories are connected.

Both plots of the stories are centralised around nurses, back when the
first story was written, [the Old Nurse's Story], Nurses or "nannies"
were more common than in modern times, these were people who would
"keep house" or look after your children. This terminology changes in
the second story, "The Night Nurse's Story", because the nurse in this
story is an actual nurse of what we would consider it to be today.
This is one of the differences of the two stories right away.

I think the structure of the two stories is quite similar, since the
situation at the start of the story is fine, nothing really unusual
about it, then, towards the middle of the story, the scenario becomes
more suspicious, and the main characters lean towards something more
sinister than what was going on before, and finally, the end of the
story is filled with ghosts, the Old Nurse's Story has the dead mother
and child, the dead father and his ghostly organ, the Night Nurse's
Story has the entire household where the nurse is staying revealed to
be ghosts. Also, a male family member turns out to be "evil" or
sinister, in the Old Nurse's Story, this role was filled by the

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"The Old Nurse's Story and The Night Nurse's Story." 09 Dec 2019

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Father, with his church organ and his cloudy past. In the Night
Nurse's Story, this role was played by the man the nurse meets as she
arrives at the house, he turns out to be a dead murderer, who hanged
for killing his Aunt.

I think that the author was trying to make the killer in the Night
Nurse's Story out to be an innocent, nothing really suspicious about
him in the beginning, but this helps the reader become more settled
with the character and not think twice about him, until he exposes
himself. I think this literary strategy works well, it helps bring the
reader's attention away from him until necessary, and creating
diversions like other characters behaving suspiciously also helps with

Both stories are set in some sort of country home/manor, the Old
Nurse's Story has the feel of an estate out in the country, and the
Night Nurse's story puts across the idea of a "stately home" in an
"out of the way place", which is probably in a rural area. This would
give the author the option of adding a lot more detail to the story,
since it is a big house, they can add details like what rooms were
intended for [ie; visitors rooms, halls] If they had set it in a
smaller house, there would be a simple layout and less room for detail

Another thing would be that both of these stories are set in the
Winter months, in the Old Nurse's Story, the child and mother both
freeze to death out in the icy winds and white snow, I don't think the
story would have as much impact or depth if it were set in the middle
of a blazing summer, this would be a huge challenge for an author to
write properly, they would have to die of dehydration or something
like that. "The Night Nurse's Story" is also set in Winter, for
example "The dark November night…" makes it evidently clear that this
is true. I think that the whole theme of a "dark November night" theme
works well with a horror/ghost story because many human fears crop
from darkness, and this element helps to exploit them.

Both Nurses in the stories we are looking at come across as kind,
considerate people who truly care with their "target". The Nurse in
the Old Nurse's Story refers to Ms. Roseamond in a past tense right
from the start of the story with a very positive opinion towards her,
"but for sweet, winning ways, none of you come up to your mother" -
she is speaking to Mrs. Roseamond's child and referring to Ms.
Roseamond in the past tense, as you can see, she is obviously very
fond if she can speak to ms. Roseamond's children about her in this

The Nurse from the Night Nurse's story seems concerned about her
patient, and this shown through the way that she is keeping check of
her records, [this is where she notices the dates are incorrect] and
the way that when her patient's nephew tries to kill the patient, the
Nurse, instead of running away for her own safety, tries in vain to
fight him off and save the life of her patient, at the risk of her

One of the contrasts of this story would be the language and writing
style used to do it, it is obvious to see that "The Old Nurse's Story"
is older than "The Night Nurse's Story", this is because of the
writing style used. The Old Nurse's Story uses more of a dated style
than the Night Nurse's Story, for example:

"I thought I should like nothing better than to serve the young lady"
sounds very dated compared to how we speak today, the way we speak
today is much more informal and laid back, although the Night Nurse's
Story still uses pretty dated language compared to the current era,

"let us stop and ask at the next house"

would today be altered to:

"let's stop and ask at the next house"

This shows that we try to shorten what we say by as much as possible,
this happened a while ago, and the modern version of this change would
be people abbreviating what they say into words like "brb" [be right
back] or "lol" [laugh out loud] to make communication quicker and
apparently easier.

The writing style used in 'the Old Nurse's Story' is a lot more formal
than 'the Night Nurse's Story', this reflects how language had
'evolved', or, changed in the time between the two stories being
written. The 'Old Nurse's Story' is a story based on an aristocratic
society probably more common back then than in the time of 'The Night
Nurse's Story'. Closely-linked families living in country manor houses
and mansions, with many rooms and staff, trying their best to be
respectable to their peers.

Where as, the 'Night Nurse's Story' does not have such a background,
it seems more like common people with common jobs doing everyday
things, when something goes wrong. Also, the main character has no
direct family links to anyone else in the story, unlike the 'Old
Nurse's Story'.

The Old Nurse's Story is also a lot more descriptive than the Night
Nurse's Story, it goes into detail about things like the layout of the
house and how it looks, where as the Night Nurse's Story is more
focused on what people are thinking, and what they presume. The old
Nurse's Story is told in a past tense, and when this is used in
general, plot twists and surprises are likely to occur, and a
'shocking ending' like the person telling the story would be hiding
something all the way through til the end, so this would give the
writer the option of concealing vital parts of the plot, to be exposed
as the reader 'backtracks' across the full story.

The Night Nurse's Story aims to put you in the position of the main
character, because it is written in a first-person perspective, it
makes you wonder what is around the corner, or what she'll do next,
instead of having it revealed to you over time in a third person


All in all, the main difference between these two pieces is the
structure, for example, the Night Nurse's Story is set out to be like
a mental experience for the reader, in that it does have a lot of
depth, and that it places the reader in the position of the character
and forcing them to make the options of the character as the scenario
unfolds. The Old Nurse's Story has to be read like someone is reading
it to you, trying to work out what is going to happen next is
difficult and trying to do that will only confuse you in the story.

The Old Nurse's Story is far more articulate in it's vocabulary than
the Night Nurse's Story, as I said before, this may be due to the time
difference between the two stories and the impact society has on it's
own language, shortening it and making it easier to use, more
abbreviations and initials.

The Night Nurse's Story could be compared to a Hitchcock film, the way
it builds up tension and makes it seem like something dramatic is just
about to happen, then at the very last moment, it's nothing, an
over-reaction or paranoia from the main character. There isn't an
awful lot of physically violence in it either, nothing over the top,
it does have a violent struggle and so on, but I think it's great how
it doesn't need to have violence plastered all over it for it to be

Also, the Old Nurse's Story has the option to build up the reader's
opinion of the characters, from the beginning, you can begin telling
the past stories of the characters, or details about them, and the
reader may feel sympathy or sadness for the character, then you could
have something tragic happen to them, if a character dies, and the
reader liked them, it gives more of an effect than a background
character being killed off. The Night Nurse's story gives no clear
indication of a background to the main character, or anything like
that, so when things happen to her, you're less likely to care.
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