In H. G. Wells’ story, the big, old building that the character enters is Lorraine Castle, and it is a building which is stereotypical of 19th century ghost stories. H. G. Wells’ story appeared in 1896, when ‘Gothic’ ghost literature was often made, and this story sticks to the structure they had. The setting the storyteller uses adds to the affect of ‘spine tingling’ it should have as one of those ghost stories. Lorraine Castle is empty, echoing and deathly silent because the people who owned it, a Duke and a Duchess, have left 18 months ago after many bad spiritual things happened there.
For example, the murder of one of them in this bedroom that has been nicknamed the ‘Red Room. ‘ The storyteller describes Lorraine Castle as ‘chilly’ with ‘cowering shadows,’ and dark, heavy furnishings such as ‘a porcelain Chinaman on a Buhl table’ and ‘a chintz chair. ‘ This ‘supernatural’ language he uses helps show how the setting is sombre and ‘spooky,’ the sort of building which one would surely think there was a ghost in. In Susan Hill’s new story, the building is big and old, but it is still full of life and love, because it is now a home for older persons called Farthing House.
This story was in the ‘Good Housekeeping’ magazine in the 1990’s for housewives, and in contrast with the first story, Susan Hill makes the effort to move on from the stereotypical ghost story. The language she uses shows this, because it is ‘super normal. ‘ For example, she describes Farthing House as busy, with cats and dogs and ‘a spicy smell of baking. ‘ It is spacious, ‘settled and serene,’ as are the people who are in the home. It is hard for us to believe thee will even be a ghost in this story, whereas in H.
G. Wells’ one, it was easy. It is light and good, and surely not one thinks, the sort of house to stage a ghost story in. This is not right, it is before the surprise Susan Hill creates for us, in which the reader finds out about Farthings House’s situation, that it was a home for poor women and their babies and many of them passed on. The major character in H. G Wells’ ghost story is a young man, who is ‘eight-and-twenty’ years old. However, we do not get his name, nor even why he in Lorraine Castle.
From the things he says, like ‘I assure you, it will take a very tangible ghost for me to fear,’ he seems confident yet cocky and ‘too big for his boots,’ From the things he thinks, he seems a little cynical and clever, he talks to himself about the science of why there cannot be any ghosts and he thinks up some stanzas of ‘Ingoldsby’. From the opening lines of H. G. Wells’ story, the reader does not like this character because he is so self-centred, but by the time the story closes they may feel sympathetic to him because of what happens to him
When he is in the ‘Red Room,’ he is slowly frightened by its feeling and by the ‘shifting penumbra’ of the candles he has. The character speedily finds he was wrong not to be fearful, because the candles wink out one by one. In the times of this story, he would have needed the candles because they had no electricity to shield off the night. The man says ‘This won’t do! ‘ and ‘What’s up? ‘ He is fast and furious as he tries to keep them on, but his enemy wins. Then he thinks of the fire, it ‘staved off the shadows from me,’ but this blinks out too, ‘like the shutting of an eye.
He tries to exit the ‘Red Room,’ but knocks himself out. This character was nasty, and because one will have disliked him, one might not identify with him as much and the H. G. Wells’ story would have a lesser affect. The minor characters are not friendly but nasty, ‘crouching’ and ‘spectral. ‘ The storyteller says ‘there is to my mind something inhuman in senility,’ and the three caretakers are hideous and unsightly. There are two men and one woman, and they are unwelcoming and mostly silent.
They state random things such as ‘It’s your own choosing. ‘ In contrast, in the second story, the Matron who meets Mrs. Flower is very nice and welcoming. She says ‘I’m sure you’ll like it,’ she smiles and has a talk with Mrs. Flower. However, the reader feels that she knew about the ghost in the bedroom, from ‘was there a touch of relief in her voice? ‘ One will be shocked because the caretakers, who were so hostile before help the man on the day after his encounter with Fear. The person who is the storyteller in Susan Hill’s ghost story is a woman, middle aged because she has a family and a daughter.
She is an average middle class woman, and this is shown by what she is reading, ‘Sense and Sensibility. One would like Mrs. Flower from the outset of this story, because she is down-to-earth and helpful. She is doing a letter for her daughter, who is pregnant, because she feels the need to share her ghostly encounter with her. She is sensitive too, and is worried about her Aunt Addy, so much so that she travels one hundred miles to see her. Mrs. Flower is asleep in her bedroom, but is awoken because she has heard a baby crying. She sits up and watches a woman in an ’embroidered nightgown,’ who is standing by the window. The ghost then stops crying, and exits. Mrs.
Flower feels she should help the ghost and though she is frightened she follows her, her breath in ‘haws of white’ in front of her face. She cannot move any further, and she stumbles back ‘soaked in sweat,’ and is soon asleep. So she even sympathises with the ghost who haunts her ‘Cedar bedroom’, and because she was nice and likeable, one would empathise and identify with her more and so the story may have a greater effect. Though H. G. Wells creates his suspense with the ‘Gothic’ ghost story idea up to a climax in the ‘Red Room,’ Susan Hill uses hints and strange happenings to create her suspense.
For example, Mrs. Flower has got to the home, and says ‘I was shrouded by a sense of melancholy,’ but ‘maybe I had caught a cold. ‘ In the first story, suspense grows and grows, but in the second story the author creates suspense, takes it away and shrinks it and then lets it out again, up to the story’s finish. I think it is ironic that H. G. Wells’ story, which seems to be a true ghost story, has no ghost in, whereas Susan Hill’s story, which seems to be a false ghost story with no ghost, does have one in. Therefore, though they both have a twist and a turn in them, I prefer the one by H. G. Wells.