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A GCSE Student’s Guide to The Woman in Black

mandy_lloyd | Monday December 03, 2012

Categories: KS4, AQA GCSE, AQA GCSE Pre-2015 Resources, AQA English Literature, Unit 1 Exploring Modern Texts, Hot Entries, Prose, The Woman in Black, Writing, Analytical Writing, Essays, Literary Analysis, Prose Analysis

Guide Navigation

1. Introduction
2. Narrative Viewpoint
3. Structure
4. Social / Historical Context
5. Language
6. Top Ten Quotations
7. Exam Preparation
8. Using Quotations
9. Sample Exam Response

Introduction

This short popular novel is a ghost story with gothic elements. The Woman in Black was originally published in 1983 and a successful cinema adaptation was produced in 2012 starring Daniel Radcliffe (directed by James Watkins with screenplay by Jane Goldman).

In an interview, Susan Hill described ghost stories as follows:

Ghost stories… tell us about things that lie hidden within all of us, and which lurk outside all around us. They show human beings in the grip of the extremes of powerful emotions, at key moments and turning points in their lives. They also frighten delightfully, give shape, form and substance to our darkest and most primitive and child-like fears and imaginings, and, perhaps most importantly of all, they entertain.

The title The Woman in Black is effective as it is ominous and mysterious and creates a feeling of foreboding and threat – all useful plot devices. The title also acts as an ‘enigma code’ in the way that it creates the sense of a question that demands an answer and thus draws the reader into the text – who is this woman in black?

For most of you, The Woman in Black is likely to prove a highly effective and chilling tale that you will enjoy reading and analysing. Hill uses the colour black, a colour which is often, in literature, associated symbolically with death, misery and horror, thus foreshadowing the plot. The ‘[woman’ is unnamed adding a further sense of mystery and haunting ideas of the supernatural.

The main action of The Woman in Black is set somewhere on the north-east coast of England, in a fictitious town called Crythin Gifford – famous, we soon learn, for its sea mists and lonely salt marshes.

For many readers, the power and quality of the story is that it is written in a...


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