The women in black

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  • Created by: 11pha
  • Created on: 12-05-16 19:37


Section A – 45 Mins - Choice of 2 questions – Only answer 1

• Decide on 3-4 points to explore in relation to the focus of the question

-spend 5 mins planing points and finding quotes


  • references to the text- embedded quotes
  • exploration
  • close analysis
  • awareness of plot
  • character
  • themes


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Possible Questions

How does Hill build up the story of Jennet Humphrye?

  • escalation in appearances of WIB
  • sound of pony and trap
  • nursery atmosphere
  • letter and documents (victorian classic)
  • conversation with Jerome and Daily

How does Hill present the citizens of Crythin Gifford

  • description of pub and town
  • villagers behavioural shift upon learning Kipps business
  • Jerome, Daily, Keckwick and the Landlord

How does Hill present the character Sam Daily?

  • meeting on train
  • cheery personality contrasts other characters
  • sceptic voice
  • offering of protection- spider and place to stay (fatherly role)
  • reveals the truth!
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  • retrospective tale- first person narrator
    • drops knowing hints and warnings
    • creates ominous atmosphere and forboding
  • pastiche of a 19th century ghost story
    • long sentances
    • mimic Charles Dickens
  • gothic atmosphere and conventions used
  • often includes 'boring details'
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Gothic Style

Pastiche of a 19th Century ghost story. This novel is an imitation of Victorian Gothic and is written in a very similar style to Dickens’ novels. Susan Hill effectively evokes the voice of Dickens and other writers using characteristic devices such as densely detailed text (boring details), evocative descriptions and language that is lavish and dense as any Victorian tale. Long sentances.

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Retrospective Narrative and Foreshadowing

 Arthur’s perspective (1st person narrative) 

  •  reader feels closer to the person that is narrating- can understand their thought process
  • However, the reader can understand Alice Drablow’s and Jennet Humfrye’s viewpoint as Arthur reads their letters and correspondence. (victorian classic)

Retrospective narrator

  • you know what the narrator knows and it allows the reader to see change and growth.
  • creates an ominous atmosphere and foreshadowing through hints and warnings
    • writer gives clues to the reader that suggest ideas/themes or things that might happen
  • There is lots of foreshadowing in the opening chapter
  • “I was then thirty-five and I had been a widower for the past twelve years. I had no taste at all for social life and, although in good general health, was prone to occasional nervous illnesses and conditions, as a result of the experiences I will come to relate.” (pg. 4)
  • "I had a story, a true story"
  • "that my peace of mind was about to be disturbed and memories awakened that i thought forever dead"
  • "never yet"
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Pathetic Fallacy

  • Weather often reflects the mood/human emotions of the characters.
  • ‘My spirits have for many years now been excessively affected by the ways of the weather.’
  • In London the fog is given the colloquial term ‘London Peasouper’ and is described as ‘menacing and sinister’ which sets an ominous tone for Kipps’ journey to Crythin Gifford.  
  • Furthermore, throughout the novel the sea frets or mists, great gales and howling winds add to Kipps’ fears when he is stranded at Eel Marsh House. 
    • "wind that came howling"
    • "moan of wind
  • Fog motif- comes to signal terror and negative experiences
    • horror starts and ends with sudden appearance. disappearance of fod
    •  pervasive, sinister and threatening
  • Juxtapose of beauty/ menace of enviroment ( chap. 5)
    • "sheer and startling beauty"
    • "wide, bare openess of it"
    • "A bright crisp day" -ironic cheeriness of narrator @ start of every chapter
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create vivid pictures in the reader’s minds

* Metaphor

  • "That great cavern of a railway station" (pg. 33)

* Simile

  • "It was a mist like a damp, clinging cobwebby thing." (pg. 85)
  • "millions of live fingers that crept over me,"

* Personification

  • "The wind will blow itself out and take the rain off it by morning," (pg. 35)
  • " creeping in and out of alleyways and passages"
  • " gaining a sly entrance"
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Language Devices

• Adjective (Describing word) - Adds more vivid description.

• Verb (Doing word) - Adds a sense of pace and urgency to the description.

• Adverb (Adds more information to a verb) - Adds a sense of pace and urgency to the description.

• Similes (Comparing using LIKE or AS) - Helps describe people, objects, places and is usually quite literal.   

• Metaphor (Comparing saying it is something else) - Helps describe people, objects, places and is usually an unrelated comparison.

• Foreshadowing - Hints and clues about the ending.

• Pathetic Fallacy - When the weather reflects mood and human emotion.

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Structural Devices

Simple Sentences

  • Used to create a dramatic effect such tension.  It also might suggest fear and fast-paced action or thoughts.

Long Complex Sentences

  • Can be used to add lots of descriptive detail; or for a character it can be like a stream of consciousness in which they reveal all their thoughts.


  • All PUNTCUATION is used for effect
    • an author’s use of an ellipsis can be used to create a cliff hanger and suspense; or to show a character’s uncertainty.
    • ... used to show fear, hesitancy and uncertainty
    • commas used to build tension to climax
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Jumpy tension as entertainment- contant tightening and relaxation- fear of the unknown

Start of chapter Kipps has positive attitude-tricks reader into peaceful sense of mind, then tension builds through setting and events to climax and fear at end of chapter

When Kipps first mentions his sighting of the ‘young woman with the wasted face’ to Mr Jerome at the funeral of Mrs Drablow, there is a ‘silence so deep’ that he can hear his own pulse and see Mr Jerome’s inability to speak, later described as having a ‘sickly greyish pallor’ when discussing the sighting of the woman. The fear that clearly grips and silences Mr Jerome also keeps Mr Keckwick silent about his role in the affairs that led to the death of the child on the causeway.

Kipps himself is exposed to the terror caused by the unknown during the episode involving the rocking chair in the nursery. He is possessed by fear at the thought of what he will meet inside the room whose door has mysteriously opened and later is chilled by the cry of the child on the wind. Another way she creates fear is by her use of onomatopoeia's of unexplainable noises. 'That maddeningly familiar bump that tantalized me because I still could not identify it'

The ghost of Jennet Humfrye is the source of all the fear and repulsion in the novel, not only for her spectral presence but for her deliberate act leading to the death of Kipps’ wife and child – foreshadowed by the warning from Mr Daily that a child died whenever she appeared. 

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Supernatural events are unexplicable by scientific theory or supposition.  Although, Kipps frequently tries to reassure himself that he, “Did not believe in ghosts what other rational explanation was there?” (pg. 79)

Susan Hill hints that the supernatural obscuring and distorting being more terrifying than classic gothic conventions and cliches. The threat of the unknown.

• It is clear that Kipps transforms throughout the novel from someone who is sceptical of the supernatural to someone who clearly believes in ghosts.

 This is apparent when he sees the Woman in Black for the second time and hears the tragic sounds of the Pony and the trap, “That the woman by the graves had been ghostly I now – not believed, no – knew,  for certainty lay deep within me.” (pg. 97) 

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Second wib appearance

  • vengeful and wants to inflict harm on others,
  • “What I saw – as a desperate, yearning malevolence.” 
  • "she directed the purest evil, hatred and loating with all the force that was avaliable"
  • "passionate emotion"
  • "eyes sunken but unaturally bright"

A poor, crazed, troubled woman, dead of grief and distress, filled with hatred and desire for revenge.” (pg. 75)

"not fear, not horror, but overwhelming grief and sadness, a sense of loss and bereavement"

Kipps is sympathetic to the ghost of Jennet Humfrye when he learns that her actions are the result of losing her child Nathaniel. First as he was adopted by her sister and secondly when he died in the accident involving the Pony and the trap. 

This is ironic as we learn at the end of the novel, that the Woman in Black’s appearance foreshadowed the death of his wife Stella and their baby son.

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Kipps’  vulnerability at Eel Marsh House is emphasised by the descriptions of the surrounding nature, “when the tide came in, it would quickly be quite submerged and untraceable.” (pg. 68)

Gothic cliche as beyond help

Moreover, many of the characters in The Woman in Black are part of a conspiracy of silence which further isolates Kipps as it is clear that they deliberately withhold information about the Woman in Black. Hearsay and rumors not explained to Kipps

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Mr Samuel Daily:

'big man' with a 'beefy face' and 'huge raw hands'. A local landowner who met Kipps on the train and becomes a companion to him. At first Kipps ignores his advice and guidance. He is quite an open person and you can tell what he's feeling - 'Openness of his gaze and directness of his manor' contrasts secrecy of other locals. Towards the end he lends his dog Spider to Kipps to be his 'companion' while at Eel Marsh. Throughout the novel he tries to hint at Kipps to stay away from Eel Marsh without burdening him with the hole story but Kipps ignores this and Sam has to save hm at the end.

Mr Jerome:

A small ginger man and local lawyer who accompanies Kipps to the funeral, he once tried to sort through Mrs Drablows papers but his child died as a result of seeing TWIB. His purpose in the novel is to warn Kipps of the dangers at Eel Marsh and the effects it will have on him but similarly to Sam, Arthur chooses to ignore him. Most of the time he appears well able to hide his emotions but the mention of TWIB unnerves him - 'I noticed his hands, which rested on the sides of the chair, were working, rubbing, fidgeting, gripping and ungripping in agitation' and 'Mr Jerome's hands continued to scrabble around like the paws of some struggling creature'. But his face shows no emotion.

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Auther Kipps:

Kipps is a typical ghost story skeptic, he is arrogant and ignorant, and tries to hold onto his belief that ghost don't exist and he initially establishes his young self as 'A man of logic' and says that 'I did not believe in ghosts, or at least I didn't up until then'. Kipps, the main character is a sceptic - 'I never thought of myself as a fanciful man'. Arrogance makes him feel superior to the village people  - 'Unsophisticated than we cosmapolitans' - so he does not believe their 'superstitions'. But eventually pays the price for his ignorance and loses his wife and son.

Jennet Humfrye:

Brought shame upon the family by having a baby out of Wedlock so she was sent to Scotland and her sister Alice took the child. When he was 6 she travelled to CG to kidnap him, but when on his way back from the village the pony and trap sinks into the marshes and he dies. Jennet blames Alice for his death and when she dies of a wasting disease haunts her sister and the house killing other peoples children whenever she is seen. Although some may see her as a victim, her pain and hurt do not justify her actions.

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Mr Bentley:

He is Kipps' boss and a partner in the firm, he proves that Kipps is not the only one who was changed by TWIB and her story, he starts out as being arrogant like Kipps - 'Mr Bently had never been able to resist making a good story better' - but in the present Kipps says that 'he had always blamed himself'. Thus representing the enormity of TWIB's influence.

The Landlord:

A polite and hospitable man from CG - 'No intention to pry, Sir'.  Dodges conversation about TWIB and reflects the close knitness of the village as he know everything about everyone. 


Kipps second wife who is also a widow with three children of her own but has no more with Kipps possibly because he is worried they will have the same fate as his first. Her background of normality contrasts with Kipps to make his seem worse. We get the impression that Kipps has found love and comfort in her to help him recover.

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