KDE – 9En1 English – Woman in Black – Atmospheric Language

Due: Thursday, 25th September

Read the following extract from The Woman in Black (attached – click on the following link, to download the PDF file: The Woman in Black, pp.65-66

Explain how language is used to create a change in the atmosphere.

(Select a quote and then analyse its effectiveness.)

All: You should select at least three phrases / sentences to examine, commenting on how the author has used language to add to / change the atmosphere.

Challenge 1: Spot the Simile.  Find the simile hidden in the extract, and evaluate (judge) its effectiveness.

Challenge 2: Suggest one aspect of the author’s writing that could be improved.

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10 thoughts on “KDE – 9En1 English – Woman in Black – Atmospheric Language

  1. Jonah

    In The Woman in Black the writer uses effective negative adjectives to give an emotion of fear. “Her face, in its extreme pallor, her eyes, sunken but unnaturally bright, were burning with the concentration of passionate emotion which was within her and which streamed from her. “ In this sentence the author uses complicated and exaggerated adjectives to describe this mysterious woman who is haunting him. Words like “Pallor,” and “Sunken,” really build upon the mood the narrator is trying to create.
    Susan Hill also uses long sentence length and dramatic pauses to show the reader how to read this effectively. “Earlier, when I had looked at her, although admittedly it had been scarcely more than a swift glance each time, I had not noticed any particular expression on her ravaged face, but then I had, after all, been entirely taken with the look of extreme illness.” When the narrator speaks of this ominous figure he uses dramatic pauses almost after each word to create suspense. This makes the reader slow down and take in what is going on and it also add tension to the scene.
    The author also uses similes to add description to the scene. “Indeed I had never in my life been so possessed by it, never known my knees to tremble and my flesh to creep, and then to turn as cold as stone, never known my heart to give a great lurch, as if it would almost leap up into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil, never known myself gripped and held fast by such dread and horror and apprehension of evil.” These two similes “And then to turn as cold as stone,” and “As if it would almost leap up into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil,” give the reader a sense of how terrified and shocked.

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  2. Jonah

    In The Woman in Black the writer uses effective negative adjectives to give an emotion of fear. “Her face, in its extreme pallor, her eyes, sunken but unnaturally bright, were burning with the concentration of passionate emotion which was within her and which streamed from her. “ In this sentence the author uses complicated and exaggerated adjectives to describe this mysterious woman who is haunting him. Words like “Pallor,” and “Sunken,” really build upon the mood the narrator is trying to create.
    Susan Hill also uses long sentence length and dramatic pauses to show the reader how to read this effectively. “Earlier, when I had looked at her, although admittedly it had been scarcely more than a swift glance each time, I had not noticed any particular expression on her ravaged face, but then I had, after all, been entirely taken with the look of extreme illness.” When the narrator speaks of this ominous figure he uses dramatic pauses almost after each word to create suspense. This makes the reader slow down and take in what is going on and it also add tension to the scene.
    The author also uses similes to add description to the scene. “Indeed I had never in my life been so possessed by it, never known my knees to tremble and my flesh to creep, and then to turn as cold as stone, never known my heart to give a great lurch, as if it would almost leap up into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil, never known myself gripped and held fast by such dread and horror and apprehension of evil.” These two similes “And then to turn as cold as stone,” and “As if it would almost leap up into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil,” give the reader a sense of how terrified and shocked the narrator is.

    Reply
  3. Lucy Branton

    1st sentence:
    “It was one of what I can only describe – and the words seem hopelessly inadequate to express what I saw – as a desperate, yearning malevolence; it was as though she were searching for something she wanted, needed – must have, more than life itself, and which had been taken from her. And, towards whoever had taken it she directed the purest evil and hatred and loathing, with all the force that was available to her.”
    This isn’t really a sentence, I must admit, but it still captivated me, nonetheless.
    What was it about this sentence that captivated me though?
    Well, I think it was the varied mood. It changes so rapidly, so hastily, almost like the phrase: “In a blink of an eye”. The mood is set: distressed, distraught, desperate, making it also almost piteous. Then: “In a blink of an eye”, the mood changes. The purest detestation, revulsion and disgust that you would never have imagined possible surfaces. This change is almost shown in the alteration of pace. When the mood is distressed, the pace is slower. The pace is slower because of the pity that you may feel when reading that part. Almost like a lead balloon is dragging you down. Then, fury flares up, accelerating the pace, making you feel not quite anxious, but wary for the character, wanting to do something, but not knowing what.
    The way that Susan Hill could improve her writing in this paragraph? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps she could have given us a bit of a hint as to what she was yearning for- maybe in the form of an expression on The Woman in Black’s face- a sense of what she’s lost, maybe a possession, a lover, a loved family member. Just a hint though, so it fuels our curiosity, but doesn’t give the whole book away half way through. Also, it would have been nice if we got a description of her looks too within that paragraph, so we could imagine her, but then again, it fuels our curiosity if we don’t know.

    2nd sentence:
    “Indeed, I had never in my life been so possessed by it, never known my knees to tremble and my flesh to creep, and then to turn cold as stone, never known my heart to give a great lurch, as if it would almost leap up into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil, never known myself gripped and held fast by such dread and horror and apprehension of evil. It was as though I had become paralysed. I could not bear to stay there, for fear, but nor had I any strength left in my body to turn and run away, as I was as certain as I have ever been of anything that, at any second, I would drop dead on that wretched patch of ground.”
    Again, this isn’t really a sentence, but it still grips me with mixed feelings I can only hope to grasp hold of and examine.
    The mood from the last sentence (okay, paragraph then!) was angry. Now, it has jumped right up the ladder, farther from anger, now to fear.
    The worst part about fear is that when you write it (only if you write it well, mind you), the reader is gripped by it too. “It was as though ii had become paralysed.” Is the sentence that enthrals me the most. It almost makes me paralysed, makes the reader not want to let go of the book, keep reading, totally engrossed in the story. Imagination takes over, emotions take over, and pure fear takes over. The emotions that take over are so strong, you become a character. Fear, no, emotions- emotions so pure and raw- is what makes the atmosphere. The more engrossed you are in the story, the stronger the effect it has, the more it messes with your emotions.
    I love the description in this paragraph- the dropping dead on that wretched ground, the pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil the turning cold as stone. All these phrases are exceptional descriptions, but I feel that there is something missing that I can’t quite fully put my finger on. I also like the “so possessed by it”. The it just fuels my curiosity once more, but I wouldn’t tell Susan Hill to hint at what it is, because, again, that would spoil the book. So, as an improvement comment, I would tell Susan Hill to create more of an atmosphere, to maybe pick out some of the features that make the narrator feel like that, so we can begin to understand a little about why the narrator is so afraid.

    3rd sentence:
    “Who she was – or what – and how she had vanished. Such questions I did not ask myself. I tried not to think about the matter at all but, with the very last of the energy that I could already feel draining out of me rapidly, I turned and began to run, to flee from the graveyard and the ruins and”… The sentence ends there.
    So what’s the atmosphere in this sentence/paragraph?
    Well, it gives me the creeps. In other words, I get the attack of the shivers. They crawl their way slowly up and down my spine, pausing once in a while to sharply tickle a particular spot in my back. Who is she? I never asked myself this question before, but now the narrator mentions that matter, it fuels my inquisitiveness. What is she, for another matter? Where did she come from? Not knowing is what scares me the most. These unanswered questions make me (pretending to be a character here) want to run to her and ask all these questions, but at the same time cower in fear, in apprehension and trepidation. Just thinking of attempting holding a conversation with The Woman in Black, makes me want to go dig a hole and hide in it! Now that we have felt the narrators fear, concerning The Woman in Black, we feel it too, like The Woman in Black is a real life person/being.
    Maybe as an improvement Susan Hill could describe, again, why the narrator felt such a need to flee from the graveyard. This doesn’t fuel my curiosity. It just irritates me now, that because I don’t know, it feels like I am going to get a jump-scare, and I hate jump-scares. However, some people might think that this improvement isn’t valid, that it’s just my opinion, so, in case of this, I have a different improvement comment: say why the energy is draining from the narrator; how the graveyard scares him; is he having a sensory overload?;what is he feeling in terms of atmosphere?

    Challenge 1: Spot the simile-

    I think that:“In my chest like a hammer on an anvil” is the simile in these two pages of The Woman in Black.

    Challenge 2: Suggest one aspect of the author’s writing that could be improved-

    I tried to include that in my analysation of the selected sentences/paragraphs.

    Reply
  4. katie.s

    Susan Hill uses language to change the mood in her novel ‘the woman in black’. By using the phrase ‘ I was angry, yes angry!’ she changes the atmosphere from being tense and scary to being dark and filled with anger.
    There is a simile in this piece, ‘never known my heart to lurch, as if it would almost leap up into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer’. The similes let on how scary and shocking the scene is, and that the narrator is very very scared, petrified even.

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  5. Katie L

    In the book “Woman In Black” by Susan Hill, language is used to change the atmosphere the narrator is living in. She does this by using a variety of different types of language and grammar; I will go through exactly how Hill achieves this form of tension.

    The very first technique I picked out is Hill’s use of varied sentence length. These varified sentences are usually used to create tension and add suspense; this makes the reader want to continually know what’s happening to the narrator. In page 66, Hill explains that: “It was the woman who moved. She slipped behind the gravestone and, keeping close to the shadow of the wall, went through one of the broken gaps and out of sight.” In my opinion, when the sentences are structured as so, if symbolised the character’s heart beating. It stops. Then it suddenly starts racing and flowing in. Loads. Of different. Timings.

    The second technique is the repetition of the word ‘never.’ On page 65, the narrator is building up tension- “Indeed, never in my life have I been possessed by it, never have I known my knees to tremblr and my flesh to creep, and then turn to stone, never known my heart to take such a lurch.” This shows again, like I explained in the previous paragraphs – it gives a vision of him feeling anxious and horrified by this mysterious figure. It gives you the sense that his heart is beating in an irregular time because he’s lost all sense of feeling, emotion and control.

    The final technique I spotted is the use of description. On page 65, the narrator describes how he feels and looks with the woman in black in his presence. My evidence for this paragraph is: “In the greyness of the fading light, it had the not the pallor of flesh so much as bone itself.” This gives the feeling that his vision is going wary and all he can see is his limbs breaking down into bone.

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  6. louis benjamin

    Susan Hill uses a lot of emotion in the way she wrote, such as when she said “angry, yes I was angry” the narrator is sort of reassuring himself that he is angry and nothing else.

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  7. bronwyn.j

    “i had not noticed any particular expression on her ravaged face” I think this sentence kind of gives the character a personality even though we haven’t yet been introduced. You can guess that although she is terrifying, she holds no emotion in her facial expressions. Also the use of the word “ravaged” is unique and not a word you would use everyday. So the language she used helped to create an atmosphere.

    “her eyes, sunken yet unnaturally bright” The sentence its self totally contradicts istelf. An gives off the seance that she is not normal, there is something different about her. Normally when you think of sunken eyes, you think of tired, dull eyes. And then the fact that they are also unnaturally bright just proves it.

    “who was she- or what- was she” the use of questioning but also the punctuation adds to effect. The use of the dash adds extra information, creating suspense which therefore creates an atmosphere.. I like this sentence because it even gets the reader itself, question, which i think is actually a really good effect to have, because the questions, i think, also add to a hook. The reader will want to read more to find the answer.

    The similes, “And then to turn as cold as stone,” and “As if it would almost leap up into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil,” are effective because they show how scared the narrator is. Giving a real seance of the emotion you might feel if you were in their position.

    I don’t think i could improve the pages. Susan uses a variety or punctuation and advance vocabulary, as well as different English techniques such as simile and imagery to create effect.

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  8. Yaz

    Susan Hill is clearly trying to make the atmosphere very haunting and Gothic. She implicates that The Woman Inn Black is a sinister character, she petrifies every person and controls their thoughts and feelings to go blank. You are completely uncontrollable of yourself. I find that quite daunting that I could not control my movements or thoughts.

    Her power is a way of showing that she is intimidating and should be feared, she disgusts people. She seems to almost crave something, the fact that she paralyses brains and controls them makes you think “why does she do this?” “what does this achieve for her?”.

    Her face, in its extreme pallor, her eyes, sunken but unnaturally bright, were burning with the concentration of passionate emotion which was within her and which streamed from her. “ This sentence completely gives you the imagery of how she is presented. Her eyes sunken but naturally bright?? This gives me the idea she is mental.

    Her eyes seem tired but still wild and bright because she wont give up, she wants to win. What does she want to win? It also explains that her eyes were burning with concentration of a passionate emotion, this basically spells out that she craves something or lost something that she used to have and felt passionate about, loved?

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  9. keeley

    In the woman in black, Susan Hill uses a lot of very emotive language to support the internal feelings of the characters. An example of the emotive language used would be the description of her appearance comparing it to her surroundings and other peoples feelings.

    The simile that I spotted in the woman in black was, ‘Indeed, I had never known my knees to tremble and my flesh to creep, and then to turn as cold as Stone, never known my heart to give a great lurch, as if it would leap into my dry mouth and then begin pounding in my chest like a hammer on an anvil…’

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  10. Jenna

    “Her face, in its extreme pallor, her eyes, unnaturally bright, were burning with the concentration of passionate emotion which was within her and which streamed from her.” This quote, in my opinion is very powerful because her eyes were ‘unnaturally bright’ which I thought meant that there was something not quite right with the woman in black. It also stated that she had a ‘passionate emotion’ which means that she feels very strongly about something he loves that maybe she lost or that left her but she can’t let go.

    “It was one of what I can only describe – and the words seem hopelessly inadequate to express what I saw – as a desperate, yearning malevolence; it was as though she were searching for something she wanted, needed – must have, more than life itself, and which had been taken from her.” This is quite powerful because it’s the first hint that the woman in black is quite evil because it uses the phrase ‘yearning malevolence’ which I think means that she’s longing for revenge, to make someone else feel how she feels – ‘desperate’ and ‘searching for something she wanted, needed – must have, more than life itself, and which had been taken from her.’ Which makes me think that a relative or close friend had been murdered or kidnapped.

    “For the combination of the peculiar, isolated place and the sudden appearance of the woman and the dreadfulness of her expression began to fill me with fear.” The situation in this quote immediately changed from curiosity to fear. Could this be because of the woman in black? If so why does she want people to be scared? What will she do if people see her?

    Reply

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