Evil is depicted through the setting, place names and weather conditions.
festive meal which had taken place on Christmas Eve at Monk`s Piece. The
and a low mist over the countryside which had lasted all the previous week.
pursuits while the weather was so bad.Inside the house we have the same
sputtering. Esme (Arthur`s wife) reacts differently to the weather, she
launches into Christmas preparations with a determined cheerful attitude.
Fear intermingles with the festivities. Kipps was fearful of his memories,
?I was trying to suppress my mounting unease, to hold back the rising flood
and going over and over the events that had taken place. He tells how he
has been haunted and how he has suffered for years. He wonders if by
memory. But he then comes to the conclusion that he should keep it to
himself and prays for strength, peace of mind and a blessing upon his
but that it won`t last ?for, although I was in control of my emotions now, I
dreaded the hours of darkness that lay ahead?.(p.23). Kipps tells how
prayer helps him to come to terms with what has happened to him, ?As I
recited them aloud, a great peace came upon me?.
The scene is now set and the anxiety and foreboding has begun, something
sinister has happened to Kipps and we know that in chapter 2 ?A London
was many years ago he can remember the smallest details of that day
travelling up to London.
The fog surrounding London all help to create a sinister picture now he is
leaving the fog of London for the North of England, called Crythin Gifford
inviting, turned back carers of the deep soft bed, I was inclined to let
myself enjoy the whole business?.
The following morning he met Mr Jerome, the property agent who accompanied
him to Mrs Drablow`s funeral.
describes her to Mr Jerome, Mr Jerome showed great fear. He was on the
point of collapse, agitated and anxious to get away from the church and its
surroundings. When Kipps then mentioned that Mr Jerome was to accompany him
to Eel Marsh House, he refused point blank and said Keckwick would accompany
him. When Kipps suggested he remain at Eel Marsh House, rather than trouble
Keckwick to return him to Crythin Gifford, Mr Jerome advised not to remain
at Eel Marsh House but to return to the Inn.
In the first chapter, ?Christmas Eve?, we read of contrasts in the weather
different kinds of seasonal weather
bonfires and leaf mould of autumn, crackling cold from frost and snow?.
Then he goes on to describe the weather of the previous week ?rain ,
chilling rain and a mist that lay low?. Visibility was too poor, lamps were
lit throughout the day, fires burned dismally low. This description helps
create a sombre atmosphere, one of melancholy and prepares us in some way
uncertainly which is to come.
Kipps goes on to describe how the weather has affected him,
?my spirits have for many years now been excessively affected by the ways of
the weather?. (pathetic fallacy).
This contrasts with his wife Esme?s cheerful preparations for Christmas when
Esme is determined to make it a happy occasion. Despite the weather, the
house is full of hussle and bustle with the family preparing for Christmas
?had it not been for the air of cheerfulness and bustle that prevailed in
the rest of the house?.
past and the happy family Christmas he is now describing. When he tells his
story the unhappy memories that were buried begin to haunt him
?That my peace of mind was about to be disturbed and memories awakened that
I had thought forever dead?,
His fear contrasts with the festive air of the house
whisky beside the crackling fire, in the company of my family?.
He didn`t expect to confront his past that evening. Throughout the story,
Kipps refers to the fear that he sees in the people at Crythin Gifford
whenever he mentions the name Alice Drablow. When Kipps spoke to the
landlord at Crythin Gifford, the landlord showed fear at the mention of Mrs
?The name had stirred some strong emotion in him?.
Before Kipps gets involved with Alice Drablow`s business affairs, he has
stayed at the Inn, before he was confronted with evil.
?For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that
When Kipps describes his time at the funeral of Alice Drablow, he mentions
the cemetery and the grave-side in such a way that suspense and anticipation
of evil is felt, particularly at the sighting of the ghost of Jennet
?she was dressed in deepest black in the style of full mourning?.
Although Kipps only swiftly glanced at her, he could see a strangeness about
?it seemed only the thinnest layer of flesh was tautly stretched and
strained across her bones?
Kipps described her to Mr Jerome as the young woman with the wasted face.
?The young woman with the wasted face at the back of the church and then in
Mr. Jerome became ?frozen? and then agitated, ?anxious to get away from the
church and its environs?. Kipps was impatient and annoyed at the hints and
clues given by other characters,
?I was growing impatient of the half hints and dark mutterings made by grown
men at the mention of Mrs Drablow and her property?.
Kipps believes countrymen to be more superstitious, more gullible,
unsophisticated and primitive compared to the cosmopolitans. The plot
progresses to Kipps travelling in the pony and trap to Eel Marsh House. To
get there he crosses the Nine Lives Causeway whose name is symbolic. The
events become more frightening as the story progresses. Kipps describes the
surroundings of Eel Marsh House ,
?To the east, sea and sky had darkened slightly to a uniform leaden grey.
He describes the ruins of an ancient chapel ?all broken-down and crumbling?.
Thenthe fright of a bird with lots loudly beating wings and a harsh
croaking cry, ?it was an ugly, satanic-looking thing!?He describes the
burial ground and the effect it has on him ?Suddenly conscious of the cold
and the extreme bleakness and eeriness of the spot and of the gathering dusk
of the November afternoon?. Kipps then saw the woman with the wasted face.
Through the desolation and despair, the writer creates anxiety and the
reader becomes more agitated and fraught.
By the chapter ?The sound of a pony and trap?, the reader is experiencing
evil. Kipps believes Keckwick died in the marshes.
?I stood absolutely helpless in the mist that clouded me and everything from
my sight, I knew that I was hearing beyond any doubt, appalling last noises
of a pony and trap being sucked into the quicksands?.
Many of the sinister events took place at night such as the incident in the
nursery, when Kipps was woken by Spider the dog.
?There were no footsteps, no creaking floorboards, the air was absolutely
still, only the muffled noise went on and the dog continued to stand
bristling at the door?.
The descriptive language creates effect and builds up the suspense. There
are anti-climaxes which relieve the anxiety such as, ?Spider had settled
again on the rug?.
?It was a little after two o?clock, it was a long time before I slept?.
The climax come again when spider is ensnared onto the marshes at night
sworn it had not come from any human lips?.
It describes quite graphically how Kipps saved the dogs life but almost lost
?Once I plunged my leg down and it stuck fast in a watery hole until I
managed to exert all my strength and get free?.
peaceful, happy Sunday afternoon in summer. He describes a festive holiday
air, stalls selling ice-creams, small boats being rowed, and a band playing.
and trap. It was a happy scene depicting good when suddenly Kipps sees the
ghost of Jennet Humfrye ? everything changed – good changed to evil
?All the world went dark around me and the shouts and happy cries of all the
Kipps describes the evil emanating from the ghost,
?Yet I felt all over again the renewed power emanating from her, the
malevolence and hatred and passionate bitterness. It pierced me through?.
There is contrast again with the evil ghost versus innocent children
?The pony cart came trotting back down the avenue, through the shaft of
sunlight that lay across the grass, with my dear Stella sitting in it and
holding up the baby, who was bouncing and calling and waving his little arms
Then suddenly she appeared (the woman in black)
?She moved quickly, her skirts rustling as if to step into the pony?s path.
The animal swerved violently and then reared a little, it`s eyes filled with
sudden fright and then it took off?.
The story finishes with Stella and the baby being killed instantly. Whenever
In the final chapter, ?The Woman in Black?, Kipps suffers his last tragedy,
the death of his wife and child.
?They lifted Stella gently from the cart. Her body was broken, her neck and
legs fractured, though she was still conscious?. ?Our baby son had been
thrown clear, clear against another tree. He lay crumpled on the grass
below it, dead?. (p.159).
The character, ?The Woman in Black? (Jennet Humfrye) comes across as a very
bitter woman, she cannot forgive her sister, Alice Drablow, for the death of
her son, Nathaniel. She sees her sister as someone who robbed her of
happiness and motherhood and would never allow her to forget it. She
therefore took her revenge out on those living locally by haunting them.
Whenever anyone saw the ghost of Jennet Humfrye, a child would die. This is
how she took her revenge.
?It was she, the woman in black with the wasted face, the ghost of Jennet
Humfrye. For a second, I simply stared in incredulity and astonishment,
then in cold fear. I was paralysed, rooted to the spot on which I stood and
all the world went dark around me?. (p.158).
Susan Hill has used the theme of evil in the novel as if it was another
Arthur Kipps and those affected by the ghost of the Woman in Black.
feel the novel is more effective. It is believable because Arthur Kipps was
Jennet Humfrye was so full of hate that she wanted to exact her revenge on
all those around her. It certainly is believable and with the elements of
evil throughout and the climaxes, it certainly keeps the reader engrossed in
?They asked for my story. I have told it ? Enough?.
The ending of the story is very dramatic and makes the reader feel that
Kipps really doesn`t want to say anymore and will be glad to put the past to
Discuss how Susan Hill tackles the theme of evil through setting, language,
In this novel evil is an important theme covered in a number of ways through
settings, characters, plot, storyline and through the descriptive language
Show how Susan Hill uses different place names and weather conditions to
create an atmosphere of evil, for example, the nine lives cause-way, the
mist and the fog.
Descriptive language helps to create evil. Susan Hill uses imagery,
(similes and metaphors of evil) when describing, for example, weather in
London, surroundings of Eel Marsh House and the ransacked Nursery.
4. Plot / Storyline
Suspense is built up through the plot. Suspense / evil is created by:-
Hints and clues given by characters, sightings of the ghost building up to a
At the end of the novel, an unsuspected climax ? the deaths of his wife and