The folllowing sample essay on The Darkness Out There Analysis discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
Both authors use their titles as a way of drawing in the reader by making them ask questions right from the start. Lively chose the title “The Darkness Out There” and this poses the question, “What is “The Darkness? ” The word darkness foreshadows that the story is about the unexpected and evil.
In the same way, Thomas Hardy’s title “Old Mrs Chundle,” immediately begs the question “Who is Old Mrs Chundle? ” Already the reader is picturing an old lady in their mind and wants to find out more about her. Like Lively, Hardy engages the reader by posing questions through the title.
Titles are a very effective way of engaging the reader right from the outset. Also, both authors use stereotypes to engage the reader.
Lively stereotyped the three main characters, Sandra, Kerry and Old Mrs Rutter. Sandra has been stereotyped as a “girly girl” who likes a “good giggle. ” Kerry is depicted as “one of the lads,” he has “explosive acne” and “black slicked down hair. ” Finally Mrs Rutter is also stereotyped as “a dear old thing. ” The effect of Lively stereotyping her characters engages the reader even further. The reader is able to easily identify with the characters and in this way quickly becomes involved with them.
As well as stereotyping the characters Lively chooses to stereotype the surroundings.
“She walked through the flowers, the girl, ox- eye daises and vetch cow parsley. ” This helps to build up the scene of a warm summer’s day with a girl skipping innocently through the fields. What this does is build up the stereotyping ready for when she reverses them at the end. I will go into this in further detail later on in the essay. Hardy also stereotyped his characters. Old Mrs Chundle was a stereotypical old lady, living on her own, cooking meals for passers by.
However the Curate, in complete contrast, is a typically respectable old chap of a higher class. We can tell this when old Mrs Chundle says “I don’t want to eat with my betters” and the language he uses such as” Why my good woman. ” Also the way he insisted on paying Mrs Chundle for his meal “I should feel much happier if you would. ” Once again, this helps the reader to picture the characters more clearly in their mind. As in The Darkness Out There, Hardy moves away from the stereotype of the Curate’s character curate slowly throughout the story.
Firstly the Curate is described as “The Kind Hearted Curate” who invites Old Mrs Chundle to his parish for service “And you’ll come, if I put it up at my own expense? ” Later he turns the character round from a caring, friendly Curate to somebody who less than charitably complains about her cabbage breath. “I shall tell her not to come. ” Finally at the end of the story, when Mrs Chundle dies, Hardy uses the line ” brushed the knees of his trousers, and walked on. ” The brushing of the trousers symbolises the brushing away of any remorse or guilt for betraying his duties as one of “Gods People. ”
Another technique used by Lively throughout the story is to allow the reader to witness Sandra growing up and experiencing puberty. This is shown this by the use of the structural device Packers End. At the beginning of the story Sandra fears Packers End. When she was younger she feared the area because of “witches, wolves and tigers” But then we have an idea of her stage of puberty when her attention turns to “rape. ” Another reason we know Sandra is growing up and entering adolescence is because when they are in Mrs Rutter’s house, Mrs Rutter complimented her on her appearance “The girl blushed….
She touched secretly, the soft skin of her thigh; she felt her breast poke up and out at the thin stuff of her top” This adds to the reader alignment of Sandra. We also experience her emotions when on line 173 she shows her first sign of compassion by saying “That’s Terrible! ” This technique allows the reader to identify with Sandra and become involved with her. Both authors use morals to enhance the meaning of their story. Lively uses many different morals. Her first one is that things aren’t always what they seem. She shows this by reversing all the stereotypes at the end of the story.
She does this by reversing the characters of Kerry and Mrs Rutter. Mrs Rutter was a stereotypical old lady, which was reversed when we learnt that she left a German Fighter Pilot to die. Kerry’s character grew in maturity throughout the story. When we first met him he jumped out to scare Sandra, ” he rose from the plough beyond the hedge” and through Sandra’s thought process we were give the line “you only have to look at people to know they are not up to much. ” to when he took it upon himself to leave Mrs Rutters house in disgust.
“Dunno `bout you, but I’m going. By doing this she also shows that people’s perceptions solely based on appearance are likely to be wrong. Penelope Lively also tells her reader to fear the unknown. She does this by using Packers End. Lively doesn’t let the reader gain much knowledge about Packers End, which will create fear within the reader. Lively also refers to light and dark a lot throughout the story. They are both metaphors. Light representing good, and dark evil. “The dark reach of the spinney. ” Which creates the feeling that there is something sinister lurking in the woods.
Polleny summer grass that glinted in the sun” this shows to me that she evokes the feeling of an innocent fresh summers day. This builds up the fear of the “darkness” in the mind of the reader. Thus poses the question to the reader, “what is the darkness out there? ” This is another way of engaging the reader used by Lively. In the last paragraph we see Sandra coming to the realisation of “the darkness out there”. This is shown by the quotation ” birds singing and next you glimpse darkness. ” The word “glimpse” suggests that the darkness is always there but it’s lurking, in hiding.
Also the last two lines are extremely effective for revealing the true meaning of the story. “She walked behind him, through a world grown unreliable, in which flowers sparkle and birds sing but everything is not as it seems, oh no. ” The phrase “not as it seems” sums up that Lively is suggesting that you could be facing the “darkness” everyday of your life but you may not realise it until its too late. By describing the world as “unreliable”, Lively shows that in Sandra’s eyes the world has lost it’s innocence, in comparison to the stereotypical setting seen through the eyes of Sandra in the opening.
Hardy uses a similar moral to Lively. His moral is that perceptions of people based on appearance may be misleading. This is shown when the Curate betrays Old Mrs Chundle, even though she looked up to him and thought of him as “one of Gods people. ” Line 297 shows this by saying “The curate went out, like Peter at the cock- crow. ” This is comparing the Curate betraying Old Mrs Chundle to when Peter betrayed Jesus. Hardy also used the narration of the story to engage the reader and enhance meaning. Throughout the story, right until Old Mrs Chundles death the reader’s sympathies lie with the Curate.
The narrator uses lines such as “The Kind Hearted Curate” and “Zealous young man” to build up the empathy. I think Hardy used this method, as he wanted to exploit the misconducts of the church. By building sympathy up with the Curate and then reversing it when we found out he betrayed Old Mrs Chundle Hardy adds extra impact to the remorse the reader has for the loss of Old Mrs Chundle. In The Darkness Out There by Lively, Lively use a third person narrator. “She walked through the flowers” She does this to create distance with the reader. Thus the reader feels they are observing the story unfold from a distance.
However, after line 83, the narration switches from third person, to witnessing the story through the eyes and thought processes of Sandra. “Some people you only have to look at to know they’re not up to much” Using this method aligns the reader with Sandra and enables them to witness her growing up. This engages the reader further by making them want to find out what happens to Sandra. Hardy used pre-twentieth century language, as this was spoken at the time he wrote the short story. “Curate” “hither” and howsomever,” helps the reader to establish the period in which the story is set.
This pulls the reader in, as they can now easily picture a time and a setting in their mind. Local Dialect or Non- Standard English is used in both stories as a way of engaging the reader. In Old Mrs Chundle, Hardy uses local dialect for the character of Old Mrs Chundle. This helps us to learn more about her. For example ” ‘Tis taters and cabbage, boiled with a scantling o’ bacon. Would ye like it? ” gives us a much clearer idea about the character than, “It is potatoes and cabbage, boiled with a little bacon. Would you like some? ” This is also however a complete contrast to the language used by the curate.
“Yes, my good woman. This tells the reader that he is of a higher class. This also enables us to understand that there was a social divide at the time the book was written. Lively uses slang in the same way as Hardy does Non- Standard English. Both Kerry and Sandra use slang. “Stupid so- and- so and “what’d you like us to do” are just a few examples. This enables the reader to learn more about the age of their characters and also know that they have been brought up in a more urban area. This enables the reader to align and relate to the characters. Building a relationship between themselves and the characters is a method of drawing in the reader even further.
In conclusion both Hardy and Lively use a variety of techniques to engage the reader into their short stories. I found both very good and thoroughly enjoyed them. The first time I read them both, I preferred The Darkness Out There. However, after reading them more thoroughly, I preferred Old Mrs Chundle. I loved the way Hardy threw in little words and sentences that didn’t seem like much but really had great impact on the story. For example “brushed the knees of his trousers, and walked off. ” Both authors are very effective in engaging the reader.