This essay will begin to look at the stories, The Darkness Out There’ and The Red Room.’ Both of these stories seem to hold at first glance similar themes but closer reading and analysis show the reader that there are different attitudes to the main theme fear.
This essay will try and take the main ideas and compare the differences in attitude towards ghosts, fear of the supernatural and the state of mind of the main characters through the author’s use of language.
The emotion fear, is found quit differently between the two stories, The Darkness Out There is set in an area in the woods, its an area where people do not want to go alone this means that people are scared of the area. However, The Red Room The Red Room, is a room in an old house, it’s a room that frightens people hence, people do not want to go into the red room.
The people living around each place have their own myths and stories of the supernatural. In The Darkness Out There, little children made up stories that there were witches and wolves at Packers End. Even the main character, who doesn’t believe in witches and wolves anymore, but is still frightened of it for other reasons such as rapists / killers which are defined as prowling blokes / gypsy type blokes. Adults however tend to believe that they could hear German’s talking on their radios and that voices came out of branches. In The Red Room however only, the old people that live in the house have stories to tell they believe that the red room is haunted.
A major similarity between both stories is the fact that no one has actually seen any of the things that the people are afraid of. However, the attitudes in response to the myths for both characters are completely different. In The Darkness Out There, the main character is also frightened of the myths told and believes them whereas in THE Red Room, H.G. Wells has portrayed the main character as not scared and he uses phrases such as it would take a very tangible ghost to frighten me’ and if I see anything tonight, I shall be so much the wiser. For I come to the business with an open mind’ to describe his bravery.
In The Darkness Out There the history of Packers End is told by Mrs Rutter, the writer has chosen the history to be told by an elderly woman to young children this is aimed to frighten the children more, she also
shows confidence if your nervy you get bothered about things like Packers End’ and is not scared of the area, which may also be intimidating. However, in The Red Room old people that have lived in the house tell the history. The main character does not seem to believe them and feels that the old people are trying to enhance the spiritual terrors of their house by their droning insistence. He thinks the human qualities seem to drop from old people day by day and feels that they make him feel uncomfortable and would rather be in the red room for his own comfort. His overall attitude to fear is disbelief. This may be due to the time period in which the book was written. The main characters feelings may be due to the lack of belief in general to ghosts in that period of time.
The descriptions of both places have been well described and it feels as if the author is using language and words to show fear. In The Darkness Out There the area is described as a rank place with crumbling rusty scraps of metal and cloth.and bones, whereas in The Red Room the room is described as the author enters it: chilly, echoing passage’, furniture belonged to another age, an older age, an age when things spiritual were different from this of ours, an age when omens and witches were credible and ghosts beyond denying’, the ornaments and conveniences of the room about them were ghostly – the thoughts of vanished men, which still haunted rather than participated in the world of today’ and basically the character was shown to be in a state of considerable nervous tension as a result of looking at the room.
In The Darkness Out There Mrs Rutter tells them the truth about what really happened at Packers End. The children didn’t like what they heard, they started to dislike Mrs Rutter once they had found out what she really thought, phrases such as what’s to be scared of? Its over and done with, good riddance to bad rubbish’ and he must have been a tough so and so that jerry, he was still mumbling away’, showed that the Sandra was in great discomfort and had to leave the house. In The Red Room however, the main character finds out what lies in the red room by first hand experience. Although he had fixed his mind to believing nothing supernatural was present, he found the echoes very unpleasant, and after midnight all his candles started to go out one at a time, which makes the us believe that there may be a actual ghost in the room. The main character was terrified the darkness closed upon me like the shutting of an eye. Wrapped about me in a stifling embrace, sealed my vision, and crushed the last vestiges from my brain’. In the morning when he says
that there is neither ghost of earl nor ghost of countess in that room’, it doesn’t really make sense since there were no other reasons that H.G Wells writes on how the candles went out the way they did.
As an ending both authors have similar views in that fear itself is more powerful than the appearance of ghosts. In The Darkness Out There the author tries to explain this by saying there was a darkness that was not the darkness of tree shadows and murky undergrowth and you could not draw the curtains and keep it out because it was in your head’ and other things like one minute your walking in the grass, the next you glimpsed darkness, an inescapable darkness’ but the final line that shows that the author I using language to convey darkness is the darkness was out there it was a part of you and you would never be without it, ever.’
The Red Room, is similar in that it also states that there is nothing more scarier than your own fear of something, the worst of all the things that haunt poor mortal man, said I and that is, in all its nakedness – fear’ and there is fear in that room of hers – black fear, and there will be – so long as this house of sin endures’.
I think that H.G Wells has done a better job of showing us attitudes to fear than Penelope Lively, because of the language and words used, he shows that the fear of the supernatural can even affect non-believers.