In this essay, I am going to examine the representation of supernatural in the Red Room and Farthing House.
Supernatural is defined as fear out of existence, supernatural cannot be explained without any proof of supernatural ‘Beings’ or ‘Ghosts’.The Red Room was written in 1896 by an author called HG Wells and is a good example of the Victorians interpretation of the genre of Ghost story writing. This is accomplished by using anonymous residents existing in a dismal and disturbing castle. The Red Room in the castle is portrayed in such a way, that you become transfixed by the sense of the dark complexion and dismal atmosphere conjured up by the room’s spiritual presence.Conversely, Farthing House is a contemporary story written in the early 1990’s by Susan Hill and therefore represents the relevance of Ghost stories to modern times. The story contains the usual devices needed to produce a commendable piece of work. The Cedar Room in Farthing House is described as a beautiful and unique room by Aunt Addy’s niece.
The story itself is additionally felt sad, this image is used when Aunt Addy’s niece presumes hearing the cries of babies, “Not that of a baby but of a desperate woman sobbing”.The graveyard that is set near Farthing House creates a sense of eerieness around Farthing House. Modern day horror books do not necessarily use reality as their base. A good example of this is, ‘The Vampire’s Promise’, by Caroline .B.
Clooney.Vampires are myths so therefore we cannot confirm that they exit.The cultural contexts of the two stories are obviously very different due to the times in which they were written and the differences in the way of life between the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. However, both share similarities in the representation of the supernatural and setting, for example both stories are set in a room for the purpose of supernatural behaviour stored in a fixed amount of space. The authors have chosen a room for the setting plainly because individuals are frightened of the dark and are terrified of being isolated.
The stories are also set in the winter season to give a gloomy atmosphere to the overall stories. Another similarity would be that both stories comprise of old inhabitants already living in the residences. These inhabitants are there to either warn the person/people or to hint what the room’s like, “..
.You have lived and never seen the likes of this house”. Both stories are fair to say, stereotypical.Main BodyThe definition of the supernatural seems to me to be quite narrow. My understanding of the supernatural also includes a power above nature’s force.
There are links to Ghosts and spirituality. People are afraid of the supernatural because they do not know what to expect and therefore cannot act in time. It is this definition that I wish to examine in the two stories.The plot or story line of the Red Room is about a courageous 28-year-old man that challenges a rumour concerning a so-called Haunted Room in a castle.
The young man wants to explore the room for one night to prove that there is no such thing as Ghosts or the Supernatural presence that is said to exist in the room. The inhabitants of the castle warn the young man not to enter the room, as he will be petrified for life. This plot is very stereotypical in terms of horror writing, but the story has a sense of danger and risk involved which transfixes the reader into the story’s plot.”It will take a very tangible ghost to frighten me”.There are certain techniques employed by Wells to add to the suspense in the story, e.g. Lack of information concerning the main characters and the gloomy atmosphere. This is because Wells wants to emphasise suspense in the story without names, people become more curious and suspicious of what to expect next.
The gloomy and eerie atmosphere is a stereotypical setting for a Ghost story. These images also create danger because anything can occur in unseen areas. Pitch-dark areas are a good setting for these stories as it involves isolation and develops plots to an extent of mysteriousness.The setting (Geographical and time related) of the story confirms to our notions of a stereotypical Ghost story, for example Wells uses the setting of a forsaken castle in the middle of the winter season. The main setting is the haunted room inside the castle, which is said to be mysterious and spiritual by the inhabitants of the castle.Wells uses this setting because he knows it is an exemplary area for Ghost stories to be set in as supernatural things can occur. The atmosphere surrounding the castle seems very sombre, as there is a feeling of isolation.
Isolation is created when there is solitary pitch-blackness, there is no one to accompany you and so you feel frightened.The language of the story is typical of the late 1800’s. There are many words that are not used today and this creates the sense that the language is archaic.
For example, “Custodians”, is a word that means caretakers. “Subterranean”, means underground. These words give a sense of curiosity and danger because we wonder what these words signify. Therefore, the language is evidently complicated. Words like, ‘black’, suggest that the Red Room must be a dismal and eerie place, so it must refer to darkness.
Much of the language is also poetic. Wells uses poetic prose because he wants to let the reader know what the character feels once entered in the Red Room. “For the moonlight coming in by the great window no the grand staircase…
” this image tells us the beauty and complexion of the moon. Well also applies similes into his writing. “There was no mistake about it.
The flame vanished, as if the wicks had been suddenly nipped between a finger and thumb”.Farthing House on the other hand has a different plot. It starts with aunt Addy’s niece who visits her in Farthing House. The residential home has a room called the Cedar Room and Aunt Addy’s niece was told to stay in for one night because that was the only room available.
Little did she know, the home was previously a military convalescent. Once entered in Cedar Room, she felt “Human sadness”.She starts to hear babies crying and mothers weeping. A graveyard is situated near Farthing House and somehow the weeping and sobbing attracted Aunt Addy’s niece.
Once the graveyard was in her sights, she not only heard one baby crying, but hundreds; the reason is because the house was also formerly a home for illegitimate babies.Farthing House is also set in a residential home in little Dornford. The Cedar Room is a room feared by many people because they do not really know what is happening at strange times. Once again, the author, Susan Hill uses the graveyard for a stereotypical Ghost story. The atmosphere is also very gloomy and dismal. The reason is because the Cedar Room is isolated and dark; the atmosphere around Cedar Room is unknown.
Therefore, the setting of this modern story has many similarities with the Red Room. For example the times are similar in terms of day and night and both stories are set in the dark. Both stories are set in the rooms of the house or castle, to create alarming suspense and isolation. Horror books are written in the dark because in some cases people are frightened of it. People will not feel safe and secure unless they are convinced tat darkness is safe.The language in Farthing House is very different to that of the Red Room. It is easier to understand than that of the Red Room.
The reason for this is because Farthing House doesn’t use words like, ‘Custodians’.Again, the language portrayed in the story establishes a sense of irony and danger. The language describes every detail in the Cedar Room.
“I may have had odd frissons”. The Cedar Room is described as mystifying and eerie. The story has epistolary.
This is when the story is written in a letterform.The images in the story are not created from the poetic techniques like in the Red Room but by description and detail. The description represents the story’s mood and atmosphere. “There was a clear star-pricked sky and a thin paring of moon”. This is a description of the sky’s complexion and infinite beauty. The effect of these images mean that the story must be powerful and realistic, it is vivid, for example the candles mounting on the walls.The differences however are also pronounced.
They are the castle and the residential home. These are two different constructions. The stories are also both written in different times, for example the Red Room was written in 1896 and Farthing House was written in 1992. Farthing House is not created from poetic techniques but from an epistolary point of view. The characters from the Red Room were very mysterious old inhabitants with withered arms. Whereas, the residents in Farthing House are kind and polite. There is a slow arising tension in Farthing House and there are no names mentioned in the Red Room.ConclusionWell’s view in the Red Room is to be feared of something you know doesn’t exist.
He is trying to tell us that it is easy to be frightened of old myths and legends. You don’t know what to expect in the dark and gloomy atmosphere and anything could happen. His moral is, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.On the other hand, Hill’s viewpoint in Farthing House is to challenge your fears and explore them. She is trying to tell us that you can challenge your own fears if you put your mind to it. You don’t have to be scared for eternity. Hill’s moral is, Ghosts still exist even though we think they have vanished.
Ghosts represent the supernatural in the two stories, however, they are very differently represented. For example, the supernatural represented in the Red Room refers to candles mounting on walls in little patterns and their flames flickering on and off. Farthing House’s representation of supernatural is the crying of babies and women who don’t exist. This refers to more of Ghosts because you can actually feel and visually see the babies and women.I think the representation of supernatural in the Red Room is more successful than that of Farthing House because we can actually imagine realistically what would happen in a situation like that of Farthing House. You wouldn’t really expect the lights to suddenly flicker on an off without some kind of warning. But with babies crying and women sobbing, you can just picture it in your head and say you have seen Ghosts.
So, for this reason I would prefer the Red Room. The language and imagery is also very realistic because this creates danger and suspense for the characters with anonymous names.I feel Ghost stories are still relevant to a twenty first-century audience because people want pleasure and entertainment in hearing frightening stories because they don’t know what to expect. They want to relive the feeling of being scared.