How does Hill present Arthur and his reaction to his first visit to Eel Marsh House in Chapter 5, Across the Causeway? 30 marks
Arthur compares the house to a lighthouse. This is ironic as lighthouses guide ships to safety in extreme conditions, whereas Arthur is about to be plunged into danger and to the unknown when he faces the woman in black. Hill could be using this technique to create a false sense of security which lures the reader into a relaxed feeling, which is then disrupted immediately when Arthur witnesses the woman in black.
This means that the shock is very sudden and that it is therefore effective. It also implies that Arthur was not prepared for the woman to appear, and that this was simply a routine duty for him.
The house is immediately described as ‘isolated’, which adds to the theme of isolation within the novel. The fact that the house is isolated adds to a sense that if Arthur should find himself in danger, he will be far from help, and this is proven later on in the novel when Arthur stays overnight in the house, and is cut off from the rest of Crythin Gifford. Arthur goes on to say that he feels ‘quite alone’, and although Keckwick is there with the pony and trap, we get from this a sense that Arthur is a solitary character, and that he must face whatever is to come alone. The notion of loneliness is a frightening one, and adds to the sense of helplessness that is building.
The fact that Arthur thinks of the house as ‘handsome’ not only shows his attempts to think rationally, but also reflects his naivety as he views a haunted house as something that is attractive. It also shows the key theme of appearance versus reality as although the house may appear to be attractive, it is in fact haunted with a horrible ghost. This adds to the false sense of security, but also when the truth about Eel Marsh is exposed, means that the reader thinks twice about everything, the description adds to the sense that everything is not as it seems, and that something is being hidden by the people of Crythin Gifford. Arthur’s naivety is further exposed by his description of the spot as ‘rare and beautiful’. He is not at all anxious about the thought of working alone in a large and empty house, and instead thinks rationally about the appearance of the spot. This reflects Arthur’s lack of experience in contrast with the villagers.
Arthur feels ‘excitement mingled with alarm’, this shows that he can sense something is not quite right, and that despite the grand first impressions there is something odd about this place. This causes an uncertainty to build in the reader, and begins a slight build of tension, despite there being nothing threatening about Eel Marsh as far as the reader or Arthur knows.
When Arthur begins to speculate about living at Eel Marsh House in the future with Stella, a sense of romanticism is established. This is ironic as it contrasts with the horror that has occurred at Eel Marsh House, and the haunting by the woman in black.
The sighting of an ‘ugly, satanic-looking’ bird shows another side to the setting, an unpleasant side. Arthur shudders, which is an action often undertaken by those who have seen a ghost, this could foreshadow the sighting of the woman in black moments later.
Arthur intends to ‘switch on a good many lights’, the turning on of lights in horror stories often represents fear, as it is an attempt to drive out darkness. This could be a subconscious decision undertaken by Arthur, as he feels the haunting of the woman in black at Eel Marsh House. This is designed to create uncertainty within the reader, as they can relate to this action. This is exacerbated by the fact that the story is experienced vicariously as it is written in first person and that therefore the readers experience the story as though they were there themselves. This means that they feel the fear that Arthur feels and this is very effective.
Once Arthur has finally seen the woman in black, he admits that the experience began to ‘fill [him] with fear’. The notion of being filled with fear implies that there is nothing at all left but fear, and that this fear is overwhelming, which is a terrifying idea as it implies that there is no hope, which is true as the woman in black eventually takes away Arthur’s family. Arthur then states ‘I did not believe in ghosts’ from which we can infer that he now does, and this experience caused him to change his mind. This builds a sense of dread and fear as whatever changed his mind must have occurred here at Eel Marsh House.
English Lit Unit 1 GCSE Watch
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- 12-05-2013 23:08