Chapter Summaries 1 - 3:
Chapter 1 - Christmas Eve
Elderly Kipps describes his arrogant younger self and how he found Monks Piece, then we move into the present and are introduced to his family. The children are telling ghost stories but this unnerves Kipps and he decides to write down his story.
Chapter 2 - A London Particular
The story starts in London which is surrounded by fog described to create imagery of hell - 'Great boiling cauldrons of tar'. Kipps finds out about Mrs Drablow and sets of to Crithin Gifford confused by Mr Bentley giving him a lack of information.
Chapter 3 - The Journey North
Meets Samuel Daily who tells him about the weathers common of that part of the country, but becomes tense when he sees the Drablow papers and hears about Kipps' work. When they arrive Sam drives him to the inn.
Chapter Summaries 4 - 6:
Chapter 4 - The Funeral of Mrs Drablow
Kipps arrives at the inn and is confused by the Land Lords odd reacting to the mention of Mrs Drablow. Then he meets Mr Jerome at the market and go to the funeral - they are the only people there. Kipps' first sighting of the woman in black almost causes Jerome to faint.
Chapter 5 - Across the Causeway
Kipps travels to Eel Marsh for the first time with Keckwick, he firstly sees it as beautiful and romantic emphasising his naivety. Then at the graveyard TWIB makes another appearance paralysing Kipps as he tries to find a logical explanation.
Chapter 6 - The Sound of a Pony and Trap
Kipps starts to walk home across the causeway but there is a deep sea mist which begins o play tricks on him, he hears a pony and trap and a crying child so returns to the house until Keckwick comes for him, but no one will explain anything to Kipps.
Chapter Summaries 7 - 9:
Chapter 7 - Mr Jerome is Afraid
Kipps plans to return to London as he hates how he is not in control, so he asks Jerome if there is someone that will go with him but it seems no one will so he plans to leave Eel Marsh house.
Chapter 8 - Spider
But by morning he has changed his mind and denies that he is bothered by Eel Marsh, but after diner Sam tells him not to go back alone and gives him his dog 'Spider' for company while he is there.
Chapter 9 - In the Nursery
Kipps is optimistic and finds Jennets gravestone which unnerves him and he then finds a series of letters between Jennet and Alice about Jennets life. And what happened to her son.
Chapter Summaries 10 - 12:
Chapter 10 - Whistle and I'll come to you
He spends the night at Eel Marsh during a storm and wakes when he hears Spider scratching on the door. He grabs a torch and leads her outside where a mysterious whistle sounds, she runs into the Marshes and gets stuck so Kipps has to save her. Then he hears the sound of a pony and trap and passes out.
Chapter 11 - Packet of Letters
The pony and trap was Sam who takes him and Spider back to the house, then back to Sam's house. They discus the letters and the story of Jennet while Kipps stays to recover, then Stella arrives to escort him home.
Chapter 12 - The Woman in Black
Kipps never returns to Eel Marsh once finding out that no child has died as a result of him seeing TWIB. Stella gives birth to a son which they take to the park, he goes on a pony and trap with Stella. TWIB appears and spooks the pony killing the boy, Stella dies 9 months later of her injuries.
The narrator and main character telling the story, he was a young solicitor seeking a higher position in the company when he was sent to Eel Marsh. Typical of a ghost story, 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 looses his wife and son.
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.
Mr Samuel Daily:
A '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' - but can be very judgemental. 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.
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.
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.
A polite and hospitable man from CG - 'No intention to pry, Sir'. He like the other villagers does not talk 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. He 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.
Themes and Key Ideas:
As a ghost story its purpose is to entertain and frighten and Susan Hill keeps the reader on edge though the rise and fall of tension. It begins quite calmly but when ghost stories are mentioned the tension builds resulting in Kipps storming outside with his family and the reader left confused. This is one example of Hill tricking the reader into a sense of peace, she also does this when Kipps first sees Eel Marsh. 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'.
Existence of Evil/Supernatural:
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'.
Buildings in particular seem to have power over Kipps - the first time he sees Eel Marsh and Monks piece. Also the power of TWIB in how he cannot stay away.
Themes and Key Ideas:
This is one of the central themes in the novel as Jennet Humfrye seeking revenge for the death of her child by haunting her sister and then Kipps who discovers her secret creates the story. But she takes her revenge on Kipps at the very end of the book when he feels most safe - 'could not have been less prepared for what was to come'. He discovers the reasons for her action she describes them as 'understandable but not forgivable'.
Conspiracy of Silence:
Used throughout to frustrate Kipps as he is kept in the dark, they are only trying to protect him but as he doesn't know so he feels annoyed and angry. Where ever he goes he can tell there is something being hidden from him which is only revealed in hints and odd looks which he cannot piece together. But in the first chapter he now seems to understand this as he gives the reader the same treatment. Silence is the response he gets from anyone who he mentions TWIB to even Mr Bentley fell 'silent' when asked about Mrs Drablow's family.
Even the name could be a play on words - Monks (symbolises tranquil and calm) and piece (peace). He also describes it as 'the happiest of homes'. And his reaction when he first saw it reflects the theme of power in the way that he is 'seized' - it had power over him.
Eel Marsh House:
It is cut off from the mainland by the causeway making it lonely and 'isolated', the perfect location for a ghost story. Similarly to Monks Piece Kipps is 'addicted' and 'facinated' by it. And he says that 'this extraordinary place was imprinting itself on my mind and deep into my imagination' When he is first describing it he sees a vulture which contrasts to the other wildlife there and could be foreshadowing the house. In addition Kipps describes Eel Marsh house as a 'light house' which is something we use for guidance, reinforcing Kipps' distorted perception of the house.
Nine Lives Causeway:
How it appears is forever changing with the 'shifting mists' meaning that you can quickly get lost. And the way that it is clear and open at one moment then foggy and boggy the next reflects Hill's ability to make the tension rise and fall. Also the name reminds us cats having nine lives suggesting danger and death. Kipps feels 'sucked in' suggesting he feels helpless and lost. Maybe the fact that he can't see anything is reiterating his frustration with the whole situation.
Introduced as a small tight nit community as in Kipps opinion somewhere that rumours and tales about ghosts would spread easily. The way that it is described as having 'it's back to the wind' and being 'tucked in' could reflect it's residents attitudes to ignore whats right in front of them - TWIB. And there is a lot of hustle and bustle especially on market day which contrasts with the remoteness of Eel Marsh.
Structure and Weather:
The novel is set up so that it is told by Kipps in later life, which helps us, the reader, to get a better understanding of the situation as older Kipps is able to foreshadow what is to come, for example, 'Yet I do not believe that I have ever slept as well as I did that night in the inn at Crithin Gifford.' This suggests that something happens which stops him from ever sleeping well again.
Hill uses Pathetic Fallacy (attributing human feelings to the weather). The weather is used throughout the novel to forewarn Kipps about an event or act that is about to happen. A good quote to support this is 'My spirits have for many years now been affected by the ways of the weather'. The fog is used as a metaphor for the mystery surrounding the supernatural and the unexplained. 'A bright crisp day' could represent Kipps' optimism, but the fog in London could be suggesting all the bad things that are to come.