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The Woman in Black | Language

mandy_lloyd | Monday December 03, 2012


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

Through Susan Hill’s choices of language she creates a fictional narrator, characters, settings and action and in this way explores her themes.

Her skill is to draw the reader into the fictional ‘story-world’ in such an absorbing way that we forget we are reading fiction and start to empathise, even sympathise, with the main characters. It is through our sympathy with a character’s plight, quite often, that the themes are persuasively developed.

For example, how we eventually come to feel about the woman in black, Jennet Humfrye, will determine how we feel about that society and its views, and some of this will have relevance even today to how we feel. The personalities of each character are what brings us to empathise, like or dislike them – and this is all the skill of the writer and her uses of form (the novel), structure (the sequencing of action) and language.

To gain the highest grades you must show thoughtful appreciation and consideration of Susan Hill’s uses of form, language and structure. For example, you could discuss the significance of the character and place names.


Names that seem to have connotations or associated meanings:

Nine Lives Causeway | A sandy path leading to Eel Marsh House which is also a dangerous crossing. The name implies that the causeway is linked to death. A cat is said to have nine lives.

Gapemouth Tunnel | The hill the tunnel runs through is the last piece of high ground for miles: this could be seen as a symbolic passage from the natural world into the land of the supernatural.

Stella | Arthur’s fiancée (and eventual wife) – ‘Stella’ is from a Latin word meaning ‘star’. In Chapter 1, Arthur explains that he is settled with Esme, therefore implying that something has happened to his...

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