Elizabeth Gaskell's short story "the old nurse's tale" is set in 1852 and is based on revenge. The story has a moral that makes the reader think about the consequences of their actions and is set in an old manor house. The story keeps the reader wanting to know more and is excellently written, the perfect ghost story. Rosamond's nanny (nurse Hester) tells the story. Therefore it is written in the first person. The use of the first person narration makes the story more believable because Hester expresses her feelings and thoughts to the reader, she is a very open and honest character unlike some of the others in the story.
Hester lets the reader know how she is feeling and what she's thinking. This gets the reader more involved in the story because they can relate to Hester emotions. Which she expresses very realistically. Hester seems down to earth and normal like us. This also helps to make the story more believable. The story is set in an old manor house.
As a result of both Rosamond's parents dying at the beginning of the story, Rosamond and her nurse move in with Rosamond's aunt, whose father once owned the house. Elizabeth Gaskell describes the house as being surrounded by "a large wild park" and has a two-mile drive to get from the front gate to the house door. This description makes the house seem isolated away from any real civilization and the use of the word wild makes the land surrounding the house seem dangerous and full of creatures. The house has lots of halls and passages that make the reader think of it as a maze and therefore the characters could easily get lost.
This leaves an unanswered question of whether they get lost or not? Which makes the reader want to read on. The house was first described as "dark and gloomy" making the atmosphere within it sinister. The trees surrounding the house are said to be so over-packed against the front that the "branches dragged against the walls." This helps create the right atmosphere of a good ghost story because it makes me think of tree branches swaying in the wind casting creepy shadows. The ghosts add effect to the story because they are the main part of the plot. There are three ghosts, Miss Maude, old Lord Furnivall and Maude's baby. Maude's baby is a very powerful phantom because she beckons Rosamond to her almost killing her.
This frightens Hester because they are a threat to Rosamond. This adds fear to the story because the reader doesn't know what the ghosts are going to do to young Rosamond. On one occasion when Rosamond hears Maude's baby crying she follows the sound out into the icy snow and she sits under a tree if a passing farmer hadn't of found her she would have almost certainly froze to death. I think that the ghosts want revenge and now Rosamond has gone to the house, they see this as their last chance to get it. As the reader we pity Rosamond because of her life so far, she has been orphaned, then sent to live with relatives she's never even met and she is young and sweet.
The ghosts revenge frightens the reader because they don't want anything to happen to poor sweet Rosamond and the reader wants to protect her. At first the residents of the manor were in denial about the ghosts but then a fellow servant explains everything to her. Elizabeth Gaskell uses tension and suspense to create an effective ghost story. She does this by telling you a little about the story at anyone time, holding back certain details. This adds suspense by making the reader want to read on. In the middle of the story Elizabeth Gaskell tells us that the east wing of the house is never opened.
This makes the reader wonder why therefore adding suspense. One of the servants shows Hester a picture of Maude Furnivall, but the picture is turned to face the wall. This makes Hester question why, intensifying the suspense. When Hester asks another servant about the portrait but the servant is very secretive this leaves the reader with yet another unanswered question. Lots of unanswered questions are an effective way of creating tension because it makes the reader not want to put the story down. The story begins tragically with both Rosamond's parents dying.
The sense of tragedy is not limited to the beginning all the Furnivall's have had a magic existence. Suspense is built up until the very end where Elizabeth Gaskell ends in a very dramatic climax. Elizabeth Gaskell describes Miss. Furnivall and Mrs. Stark as "dark", "dull" and "cold." Both of these women have very secretive natures and act as if they have something to hide.
These characters add a sense of mystery to the story. This helps create an effective ghost story. Rosamond is an orphaned young girl she is very innocent and playful, and has a way of connecting with the reader to make them like and pity her. We sympathize for Rosamond because both her parents died when she was very young. Elizabeth Gaskell explains to the reader the family history of the Furnivall's.
This is good because it clears up a lot of the unanswered questions. She reveals the jealousy that once existed between the Furnivall sisters. She also makes the reader realise that the old lord's ghost playing the piano is all to do with what happened many years ago. Elizabeth Gaskell builds up tension through out the story and at the end it all explodes out. The end is very is very dramatic and is excellently written.
The writer re-enacts what happened all those years ago. Elizabeth Gaskell describes the re-enactment in great detail. I especially like the use of the simile that lord Furnivall's hair was "streaming like a blast of a furnace." This makes the reader think of his hair as fire and it captures the intensity of the moment. At the end of the story the east wing finally opens solving another of the readers unsolved mysteries. As the story ends the ghosts gain much more power and Hester is left struggling to hold Rosamond back from going to the baby. This makes the reader worry about what might happen to Rosamond.
As the story is revealed, the reader is shocked about Lord Furnivall hitting Maude's child and how Grace is forced to face what she has done. Hester is very startled by what she sees therefore the reader is too. Miss Furnivall later dies after being so startled seeing what she's done. The story is ended with the moral "What is done in youth cannot be undone in age." I think this is a vary hard hitting message and really makes the reader think about their own life.
By making the reader realise what you are younger will always be with you, you won't be able to forget it.