The inclusion of the superstition of Midsummer adds to the suspense of where William actually was on Midsummer night. The grieving within the story is when William goes out of his way to avoid the spring because this is where his son drowned – this shows that the theme of grief in ghost stories is prevalent, no matter when written, people will always grieve for loved ones who have died. Similarly in “Harry” when Mrs. James comes to the realisation that Christine has disappeared she feels grief, this emphasises her love for Christine and how a parent would grieve over a lost child.
Grief is also the motivation for Harry’s haunting his sister. Symbols are like signposts for the readers. This is because it makes you stop to think. In “Harry” the shadow of the white bushes symbolises the gap between life and death. Harry is within this gap and is desperate to resume his life with his sister or have his sister in death. Harry’s spirit is in purgatory because of the fact that he is so fraught to love his sister again. The white roses are used to symbolise Harry’s spirit because he died amongst white roses and whenever Christine saw Harry she was near a rose bush.
Rosemary Timperley uses the colour white, which is symbolic because it is generally referred to as a ghostly colour. White is also symbolic of purity and innocence. The white bushes are used to lead you into thinking of the supernatural. As it is white and pale it also symbolises Harry being dead and him being in a different world. At the end of the story when the white roses turn red, a symbol of danger and Mrs. James feels Christine is in danger. The shadows of the rose bushes symbolise the paranormal world. We already know that Mrs. James has a fear of shadows “She was in the shadow of the bush now.
It was as if she’d walked out of the world of light into darkness” and the shadow is a symbol of a place of darkness where people do not understand what is happening. The main use of symbolism in “Harry” is the unexplainable act of the rosebush turning red. This symbolises how Mrs. James has been affected by the loss of Christine. “I fell through the redness to blackness to nothingness,” this expresses the suspense she goes through and how she slowly broke down after discovering Christine had disappeared. Red could also symbolise a violent death, such as the one of Harry.
Thomas Hardy uses symbolism in the form of a “miller-moth” which symbolises the soul of William flying up into the air, or returning to God to be reunited with his son. Also the spring is a symbol of unification between the father (William) and his son, as the spring took his son’s life but now shows the reflection of his face after his (William’s) own death. Dramatic twists at the ends of stories often make the reader realise something that was totally unexpected, and by doing this, the reader is forced to read the whole story. In “Harry” Rosemary Timperley ends her story with an unsolved mystery of the whereabouts of Christine.
Harry picks Christine up from school and she is never seen again. The twist is how he returned for his long lost sister. The reader is left in suspense and wonders how Harry crossed over from the dead to the living world. Rosemary Timperley creates tension and suspense near the end when Mrs. James is frantically screaming and rushing back to school to pick up Christine. The writer knows that the readers are by now gripped by the unfolding story and cleverly heightens the danger towards a conclusion, which we can make educated assumptions about.
We care about the child and fear for her safety thus we dread the inevitable ending. Whereas Thomas Hardy concludes his story with William, being seen in two places at once, one was at the spring where his son had previously died, so the reader is lead to believe that he is going to be reunited with his son. It is not very tense, however it is emotional. This is because of the superstition of Midsummers Eve. As a reader I felt that “Harry” was a successful story. It was an enjoyable ghost story.
Rosemary Timperley’s clever use of the typical conventions of ghost stories creates a lot of tension; this tension was used hand in hand with our fear of death and the unknown to create suspense in the story. The ending of “Harry” is also effective because it is a repetition of the beginning of the story. This literary technique gives a silent explanation to what seemed to be a strange statement at the beginning “Such ordinary things make me afraid. Sunshine. Sharp shadows on grass. White roses. Children with red hair. And the name – Harry. Such an ordinary name.
” Although the ending is effective, it still leaves the reader wondering what happened to Christine. This leaves room for a sequel, but I feel this story alone is as effective as it needs to be. Overall I felt that “The Superstitious Man’s Story” was more effective than “Harry” because it was an interesting ghost story with many superstitions related to the era in which it was written. Thomas Hardy linked the conventions of time and superstition in the story. On Midsummer’s Eve the ‘ghosts’ of people who will die within the next three days can be seen entering the church but not leaving it.
The significance of time is that the ‘ghosts’ are only seen on Midsummer’s Eve. With these two conventions going hand in hand within the story, atmosphere and suspense is easily achieved. The last sentence of the story “On inquiry it was found that William in body could not have stood by the spring, being in the mead two miles off; and it also came out that the time at which he was seen at the spring was the very time when he died” creates efficient atmosphere and leaves the reader puzzled as how William was seen at two places simultaneously and leaves them pondering possibilities of supernatural events.