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Ghost Stories Essay

1573 words - 7 pages

Ghost stories are a truly timeless form of literature, the ghost, like death, has no end. Stories of the supernatural date back to early ancient manuscripts involving mythology, legend, and religion. The past few centuries have seen the supernatural flourish in Gothic romanticism through tales of fantastic creatures, demonic forces, and parallel dimensions (Scarborough). Interest in the other-worldly has provoked many stories involving the interaction between the living and the returning dead. The well-engineered ghost stories of M.R. James seem to arouse these eerie skin tingling feelings. Techniques aimed at involving the readers awareness James's narrative and folkloric superstitions in ...view middle of the document...

James's systematical illusion of victimizing of the reader uses seemingly simple techniques to invite the reader into the drama. By attaching the reader to the main character, Jame's can begin to manipulate the reader on a more personal level. With an epistolary intrusion he can establish an impression of realism (Bray 5). Allowing the reader to see the note at the same time as the character it places the reader in the character's position, a psychological trick that leaves out the narrators thoughts, feelings, and impressions,allowing the reader's consciousness to become fused with the character, while simultaneously awakening more realistic emotional responses. Small attention to detail, removal of intricate descriptions, and light interjection, allows the reader to use their imagination; which is a strong tool used to evoke emotions like fear and apprehension.
For a strong basis of realistic reasoning James's stories involve professor’s or highly educated men. The use of these character's gains the readers trust and believability. One is encouraged by the notion that an educated man will not fall victim or be easily mislead. However, he uses this understanding as a weakness and possible reasoning for the supernatural occurrences. The main character, Williams, dismisses ideas of superstition and irrational judgement which, in James's ghost stories, may provoke the manifestations. The clash between what is plausible and what is transpiring is perhaps where the tension begins to build and the essence of the plot revealed. Williams mentions his distaste for the mezzotint and remarks on the indifference of it ($$$). Possibly sparked by his cynical attitude slight changes in the mezzotint begin to materialize. At first Williams believes that he has merely missed some details and his rationalizing keeps the reader engaged. With the appearance of a distinct creature Williams places the mezzotint in a drawer. The reader is now fully engaged and “ are ourselves intruders into a work f language . . . and which has now only to unravel its snaky coil [and] involve us totally in the narrative of which, in the so-called real world, we should have no part ” (Mulbey-Roberts 237); the seed of terror has now been planted.
The eerie description and aversion to the creature may lead one to feel “pleasantly uncomfortable”(James 220). These intrusions of the supernatural and uncanny do not detract from the story, on the contrary they seem to intensify and establish reactions from the reader's imagination. The use of the supernatural and the uncanny has been used in Gothic literature for centuries, the use helps describe and designate realms of unnatural forces or immaterial beings. These metaphysical elements are rooted in the fear that what can not be explained can not be controlled. Because James's stories involve the essence of this form, the plot revolves around the interaction of the undead or unexplainable with the living, wittingly or...

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