Boekverslag : Susan Hill - The Woman In Black
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Woman in black

Susan Hill

The background of the story

The story takes place in Monk's piece, Eel Marsh House and Daily's House (all in Crythin Gifford), around 1950 in autumn and winter.

All the story charaters have got a different personality, and they all belong to different social groups.

The background is very important to the story, because when you don't know it, it's hard to understand the story.

The genre of the story

It's a ghost story. The woman in black, one of the characters, is a ghost.

So it's clear that the story isn't realistic.

I think the theme of the story is the change of the main character under pressure of the woman in black.

The characters


Arthur Kipps„_ lawyer, married with Esme, unworried but became more realistic by the events in Crythin Gifford.


Jennet Humfrye„_ The woman in black, full of grief and hatred, because of the dead of her child for which she blames her sister (= Alice Barlow)

Samuel Daily„_ A sincere, hearty and rich man; Arthur meets him in the train.

Stella„_ was Arthur's former wife

Esme„_ is Arthur's wife, she doesn't ask him many questions.

Mr. Jerome„_ lawyer in Crythin Gifford, silent man, lost his child thanks to Jennet

Keckwick„_ coachman, concerned about Arthur, the father of the drowned boy.

Spider„_ the dog with whom Arthur goes to Eel Marsh House at the advice of Samuel.

Mr. Bentley„_ He's Arthur's boss, afterwards he feels guilty for what Arthur has experienced and therefor acts nicer.

The landlord of Gifford Arms„_ A hearty man, does his best to make Arthur's stay in his inn comfortable.

Summary of the story's events

Arthur is send to Crythin Gifford as to sort out the papers of the late Mrs. Darblow, because she has a will. The next day he goes to Mrs. Darblow's funeral with Mr. Jerome. He sees for the first time The Woman In Black. He tells Mr. Jerome and clearly he almost collapses, but when Arthur offers to help he's fine.

The day afterwards Arthur is brought to Eel Marsh House by a trap. Again he sees the Woman In Black. He follows her, but she dissapears. He goes to the Nine Lives Causeway. Suddenly there is the mist and the sound of a pony and a boy drowning in the marsh. He goes back to the house and find a door which he can't open. He falls into sleep and is woken by the ringing of a bell. It's Keckwick who he doesn't understand because he thought it was him and his trap who had drowned. He leaves the house. Back at the Inn he writes a letter to Mr. Bentley.

Then Samuel advises him to take his dog Spider with him for company. Arhur begins to work at the papers. He falls into sleep and later in the night he awakes by a sound out of the nursery which is still locked.

The next day Arthur leaves the house and again he hears the drowning and then he realises that this has something to do with ghostly events.

Inside the house he goes to the door which had been locked , opens it and sees where the sound comes from: a rocking chair, while nobody sits in it!

The morning afterwards he's there again and senses a great sadness. At night, Arthur walks the dog and outside, he hears a ghostly whistle and Spider rushes into the marsh. Arthur saves him and is exhausted. He goes back to the house and visits the nursery. Everything was in state of disarry.

Finally, Samuel tells him the whole story. Arthur gets sick and together with Stella

he goes back to London. They have a child. After a year the Woman In Black took revenge: a trap bangs into a tree and both his child and kid die.

The title

I think the title was well-chosen, because that was what the story was all about.

My personal opinion

First of all I want to say something about the critiques on the back of the book. It says this book is heartstoppingly chilling, written with great power.

I think that's highly exaggerated. Okay, it;s true that she describes the events very precisely, but for me it wasn't enough to let me tremble with tension or fright.

The stile in which the story was written was very good, it gave a good look at how Arthur felt about the events. Also it is very nice to see Arthur change from a naive young man to a man with more realism in himself. This was the first time for me that I've read a ghost story, and I think I will read some more! If I had to advise a book to anyone I guess it would be this one.
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