In what ways do they reflect the times in which they were written and the tastes of the particular audience? Throughout this coursework I will be comparing the texts, “The Darkness Out There” and “The Black Veil”. I will look at the similarities and differences both texts have in comparison and comment on the way they affected the audience of their particular times. “The Darkness Out There” is a typical fairy story written in the mid fourties by Penelope Lively. The story doesn’t tell us this but we can assume the date with the mentioning of such items as an “Aero Bar” and a “Blue Escort”.

The story begins with Sandra a young, pretty girl on her way to Old Mrs Rutters house to help her for the day, on her way she meets “slitty eyed” Kerry Stevens a fellow member of the Good Neighbours Club sent to help Mrs Rutter aswell. Kerry doesn’t “go much for her” and can see that she isn’t all that she seems while Sandra thinks she’s just a normal, old lady. Mrs Rutter tells Kerry and Sandra about how her and her sister left a German pilot to die. Both are disgusted and shocked, Sandra realises a lot about herself and how she has experienced “an inescapable darkness”.

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In contrast, “The Black Veil” was written by Charles Dickens in the year 1800, we can tell the date this text was written by things mentioned such as “hanging” and the date actually being mentioned in the opening lines. “The Black Veil” is about a young surgeon who encounters his first patient as a ghostly figure in a “black veil”. The figure asks the surgeon to help her for someone else but can only be treated the next day. After many questions from the confused surgeon he agrees to treat the person, only to find he that he is presented with a dead corpse, hanged for stealing.

He is changed forever from then on and progresses as a successful surgeon in helping people. “The Darkness Out There” and “The Black Veil” both have plots which exploit features of horror and mystery. Both have the spooky settings: “Packers End” and “Walworth”, a death either past or present in the story, a concealed truth and a sinister character “Mrs Rutter” and the woman in the “black veil”. All these features add to the mystery and excitement of both texts which keep its audience reading. Lively and Dickens develop their stories differently in changing the atmosphere at certain points and when they introduce new characters.

Dickens develops his plot comfortably, he first sets the scene and introduces the main character then develops the plot by having a ‘mysterious women’ pay a surprise visit to the surgeon. Lively’s opening paragraphs describe Sandra gradually this could be an intentional choice to keep the reader guessing about who Sandra is. Lively then chooses to make “Packers End” the place of mystery in the story and to have Old Mrs Rutter change within the story as a progression of her character from “good” to “bad” as she tells Sandra and Kerry a dark secret from her shaded past.

This makes a great impact in the story and makes the moral to never judge people by the way they look as “looks can be deceiving”. The audience that “The Black Veil” is aimed at is an educated and older generation, I found its vocabulary complex and difficult to understand. The story has long sentences suggesting a greater amount of time needed to read the text. In the 1800’s, people didn’t have the many technological advances that we have today such as television or computer games, they only had books for entertainment, Dickens is meeting the expectations of his audience with his detailed and lengthy descriptions.

This maybe why the many melodramatic moments in “The Black Veil” were also used in an attempt to keep the readers interest. On the other hand, “The Darkness Out There” is aimed at a younger more modern audience as its text is simple, its sentence structure is less complex and therefore is easier to understand than “The Black Veil’s. This may also be because of the time it was written, after the Second World War more and more people were consumed with the effects of the modern times and the devastation of the war features it brought so people had less time for reading.

My personal favourite has to be “The Darkness Out There” as it appealed to me more with its modern, simple, understandable language and had children around my age featured in it. However, “The Black Veil” kept me in suspense and was a lot more exciting as I was constantly kept from knowing the full facts until the story progressed, keeping me reading on. The tension and suspense starts in “The Black Veil” with the presence of a mysterious figure “shrouded” by a “thick black veil” entering the surgeon’s surgery the tension rises as we have no idea about the “apparition” described to us.

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