How Does Hill Create Sympathy in the Wib Essay

919 WordsMar 24, 20134 Pages
The Woman in Black has been a set text in British schools for many years. I don't think that there has been another Guardian book club where the presence of teenagers who had studied the book in class was so evident as it was when Susan Hill came to discuss her novel. Several seemed to be checking their essay arguments – or their teachers' responses – with the author. "My teacher always seemed very set that the woman in black was there," observed one sixth-form reader. Could the reader not decide that the ghost was a figment of the narrator's fearful imagination, fed by his isolation? The author left no room for ambiguity, even in an A-level essay. "Oh, yes, there's something there." For the woman in black is seen by other witnesses. This is no Turn of the Screw, whose supernatural events might all be taking place in the mind of its narrator. "No, no, no – she's real." One young reader spoke of how she and her classmates had been required to write their own imitations. The author declared herself dismayed to think of "poor students having to pastiche my style". "I did my dissertation on you versus Dracula," announced another student. Susan Hill was evidently not unused to hearing that her novel was the subject of such essay comparisons, though surprised to be told by this same student about the deep significance of the place and character names she had chosen. A ghost story invited peculiar names, Hill said, telling us that she liked to browse through phone directories and, especially, local newspapers. One member of the audience said she had studied The Woman in Black at school and was now a teacher herself, doing the book with her own pupils. She wondered if the novelist relished the fact of being such a widely studied set text. Hill said she was happy that her book had this status, though she did observe that she received some odd correspondence from
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