A Comparison of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and M.R. James' Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad

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A Comparison of Susan Hill's The Woman in Black and M.R. James' Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad In Susan Hill's introduction to 'The Woman In Black' she mentions M.R. James' short stories as some of the greatest ghost stories ever written. Her appreciation of James' writing is one of the reasons for the many similarities and differences between the two texts. Hill was greatly inspired by the setting of 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' and this results in her novel being a similar reading experience to James' story. One of the most obvious influences on Susan Hill's novel is the similarity between the title of M.R. James' story and one of the chapters in 'The Woman In Black',…show more content…
Both writers use the setting effectively to set down the mood of the story. The main characters in the stories are also very similar, both Parkins ('Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad') and Arthur (The Woman In Black) are young, curious and non-believers of anything to do with the supernatural. Parkins in particular makes his views very clear: "My own views on such subjects are very strong. I am, in fact, a convinced disbeliever in what is called the 'supernatural'-" It is obvious from this that Parkins feels strongly on the matter of the supernatural, as does Arthur. The similarities do not end there; they both harbour a desire to explore and in 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' it is this desire to explore which leads to the main element of the story, the unearthing of the whistle and visit of the ghost. In the novel, Arthur's tendencies to explore lead to him discovering the graveyard and the ghost. Also both writers use events in the story to shape the personality of the characters, for example, Parkins begins 'Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad' as a strict disbeliever of folk lore and ghosts but ends the story being forced to believe them after experiencing them himself. Also both characters are haunted by their experiences, Arthur specifically cannot escape the memories of the ghost and the

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