The Functions of Ghost Stories
A ghost story is a piece of dramatical fiction that joins the supernatural or the belief in the supernatural with reality. The idea of ghosts i.e., the supernatural, refers to a being that is unexplainable in scientific doctrine. There are those who live their lives searching for proof of the afterlife while others prefer to watch or read a fictional ghost story than to contemplate the supposed reality of ghosts. The stories that are written for both the page and screen examine the relationship between the living and the dead through their sometimes terrifying situations with each other. Along with the examination of a particular relationship, ghost stories also serve several different functions. They have been used to as comfort to those whose loved one(s) have died, as cautionary tales, to explain the mystery of death, to investigate a historical perspective, to depict the need for revenge and to provide pure entertainment. Through numerous publications and productions, the functionality of the ghost story is explained. For example, in The Sixth Sense, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the characters, both dead and alive, learn how to cope with either their death or a loved one's death. The American classic, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" impresses two social ideas: the belief in the supernatural and the simple idea of solitary walks through a wooded area. In Clive Barker's "The Book of Blood," the ghosts seek revenge against a dishonest medium. The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson seeks to inform its audiences of the supernatural through its strange and twisted plot. The justice system of the afterlife is explored in Charles Dickens' classic novel, The Christmas Carol. Ghosts serve as jocular shadows of what they once were in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Ghost stories are not a modern works. In the time of such great thinkers as Virgil, Homer and Pliny, visitations from the afterlife or Underworld were looked upon as helpful, even benevolent. Antiquity tells that the afterlife is more significant than the pre-death experience. The descriptions of antiquity's ghosts are much like ours today: My son,' she answered, most ill-fated of all mankind, it is not Proserpine that is beguiling you, but all people are like this when they are dead. The sinews no longer hold the flesh and bones together; these perish in the fierceness of consuming fire as soon as life has left the body, and the soul flits away as though it were a dream (Odyssey XI). The ancient ghost stories talk, as ours do as well, of "unfinished business." For example, in the Sophocles epic play, Antigone, Antigone fights for her brother's right to a proper burial. She knows that if he is not buried properly, he will live a half-life and never reach eternal happiness. There were also two categories of ghosts: benevolent and malevolent. Of course, these two categories exist today. The ancients believed that the benevolent ghosts are here to avert danger or offer prophetic advice while the malevolent ghosts are the evil spirits that plague the world with strange happenings. M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 film, The Sixth Sense is an incredibly moving picture. After the assault and suicide of one of his ex-patients, a child psychologist Malcolm Crowe is left resolved to help a boy, Cole Sear, who is plagued by the same affliction as the ex-patient: they both can see dead people. As the plot thickens, Crowe himself finds to be dead as well and Cole is the only one that can see him. Several characters in this movie have issues coping with death. Cole Sear is nearly paralyzed with fear of his sixth sense, driving his mother to her wits end. In the first half of the movie, Cole separates himself from his mother and his classmates; seeking solace in Crowe. With the help of Crowe, Cole learns to appreciate his gift and learns its purpose: to help the ghosts move on. It is the scene with Kyra Collins that Cole really...
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