"Night Fears", by L.P. Hartley and "A Superstitious Mans Story" by Thomas Hardy.

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Wide Reading Assignment: Comparing Two Short Stories


In this coursework assignment, I am going to compare two short stories. They are Night Fears, by L.P. Hartley, and Into The Unknown - A Superstitious Mans Story by Thomas Hardy. These Stories are written in different centuries, but are still in the horror genre. In this essay I am going to be comparing the two of the short stories. 'The Superstitious Man's Story' and 'Night Fears' could be both classed within the horror genre, but if you acknowledge certain factors of the stories, you will see that they are very different. One of these factors is the different time-scales in which the stories were written.

The Superstitious Man's Story was written in 1884 during the rein of Queen Victoria. The working class of that era were more susceptible to horror stories than in modern times because, in the past, religion was more established than science. Religious beliefs dismissed scientific views on the views of the supernatural. The audience of this short story, would of have believed in ghosts and spirits. Also the popularity of horror books in that time was because no televisions or entertainment was available. Since the audience believes in ghosts, the story would of have affected people more, if it were read in the past, then if it was read in the present. They would have been received as those scary at the time as religious views and superstitions were a way of life in the past, they would have been written for readers who get scared easily. Things have changed in modern times as scientific factors have altered the reader's perception. Scientists prove that there are no ghosts, spirits or any type of superstitious creature. This means that, as the horrors in the story are not real, and the story does not scare simply a fantasy, readers of today. Also, the violence that we observe on TV every day, makes immune to feeling scared.

The Superstitious Man's Story is a great contrast to Night Fears. Night Fears was written in 1924 by the author L.P. Hartley. It would of have been in between World War 1 and World War 2. The readers back then would of have been more immune to violence and horror than the audience of the Superstitious Man's Story, because the readers would of have observed the horror a nightmare of World War 1. Also people started to lose faith in religion as science had started to prove the superstitions were false.

L.P. Hartley was born in 1885 and died in 1972. L.P. Hartley was fascinated by the way different people experienced the world, and his novels and short stories often deal with the difference between reality and what people believe is reality. Night Fears was written in 1934, at the start of the Second World War. L.P. Hartley had often adopted Freudian views and to his work. Sigmund Freud had a profound effect on the way people thought about the way the mind has an effect on our actions. He invented the term 'the unconscious mind', which is different from the 'conscious mind' because it is beyond our control.

Things have changed to alter a modern readers perception of the story. After the Second World War people totally stopped believing in superstitions, as in the horrors of the wars and the horrors of humanity, or worse than the horrors of ghosts.

In a horror story I would expect to see the supernatural play a big part in the story. Death is also a usual scene in a horror story. They usually start off with something or someone normal, performing normal activities, then end with death by a supernatural cause. I would also twists in the plot, with language representing horror and surprises.

Each of these stories conforms to this expectation. The Superstitious Man's Story has a normal beginning and then an ending with death by a supernatural cause. Night Fears has a twist in its ending, where we see the character committing suicide and never knowing who the stranger was.

In this section of my essay, I will be looking...
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