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‘The Darkness Out There’ written by Penelope Lively Essay

‘ The Darkness Out There’ written by Penelope Lively is a twentieth century story about a girl called Sandra who over a trip to an old lady’s house realises that appearances can be deceiving and learns not to be so prejudge mental to people. She learns to be more mature and less naïve. Old Mrs Chundle’ is a pre-twentieth century tale about a curate who through an encounter with an old woman realises that he did not live up to the good person he had always imagined he had been, and also he feels guilty as a result of his wrong actions.

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The beginning of ‘The Darkness Out There’ is a contrast to the title with descriptions of the country and also of the old woman Mrs Rutter. ‘Brushing through the grass, polleny summer grass that glinted in the sun. ‘ This is your first impression of the surroundings Sandra travels through and an example of the contrasting descriptions compared to the gloomy title. Sandra has a strong pre-conception of old people being innocent and sweet who deserve to be treated well. ‘They were really sweet, the old people. ‘ Her pre-conceptions are down to her innocence of being young and of her naivety too.

Sandra’s natural assumption is that she assumes she is doing a good job giving up her time for the old people who deserved to be assisted. However as soon as Sandra gets a glimpse of Packer’s End the author changes the feeling of the story to dark and gloomy descriptions of the area, ‘It was a rank place’ for example. This idea of the area given to the readers creates the impression that the ‘darkness out there’ in this story is Packers End and gives a false illusion or pre-conception that the story is morally and fully based around it.

The transition from the pleasant descriptions of the countryside to the of Packer’s End is quite blunt with one significant quote ‘the light suddenly shutting off the bare wide sky of the field. Packer’s End. ‘ This quote is effective because it shows the change in mood and description. It also shows that Packer’s End is the darkness out there in Sandra’s mind too. You get the impression of Sandra’s fear by the comments made like ‘she wouldn’t go in there for a thousand pounds’, which shows you the extent that she would go to in order to avoid approaching it.

There are also many descriptions describing Sandra’s impressions of fear of the area like ‘ the greyness you couldn’t quite see into the clotted shifting depths of the place. ‘ This quote not only shows Sandra’s fears but also describes the ‘darkness out there’ as if until you look closer you cannot tell what it is. This relates back to the pre-judgemental attitude Sandra has towards Mrs Rutter and Kerry at the start of the story. Sandra is scared of Packer’s End because of all the tales that people had told her as a child like the ghostly presence of German aircrew, and recently the story of the girl that was raped and attacked there.

Note that after many of the stories are told they end with ‘people said’. This suggests that Sandra does not really have an entire mind of her own and that people are influential in her thinking, which is probably why she is still afraid of Packer’s End. As a child she was, and still is, afraid of the ghostly place with wolves. But going into her teens it was mainly the Nazi plane and the rape that daunts her because they were more realistic things. Others again influence her on the supposed rape incident too.

There was this girl, people at school said…’ This quote gives evidence of her listening to what ‘people’ told her and she appears to be very gullible, which makes her more naïve of the real life and Packer’s End Sandra has an idyllic life as her dream for the future for example travelling to perfect places you can get. ‘She would go to places like on travel brochures and run into a blue sea’. As this shows she with other younger people dream of not the real world with financial problems and divorce but a flawless lifestyle where nothing could go wrong.

Sandra also dreams of having a perfect home and location and a handsome husband. ‘Two children, a boy and a girl. Children with fair and shiny hair like hers and there would be this man…’ This quote portrays the lifestyle that she would like and shows her assumption that it will happen. However Sandra overlooks any possibility that some of her ideas could become flawed. But on the other hand she does seem to take her future seriously however naïve she may be. Compared to Kerry Stevens’ realistic plan for life hers is like a dream because Kerry seems to have his feet firmly on the ground.

The writer uses Sandra’s ideas of her storybook future to further give evidence of he naivety, and by using comparisons to Kerry’s future further shows how much her head appears to be up in the clouds. Kerry Stevens does not make a good impression on Sandra in terms of appearance because he was not the best looking person and the writer shows Sandra’s judgemental attitude by her initial opinions of Kerry at a first glance. ‘Some people you only have to look at to know they’re not up to much. ‘ This quote shows her opinions of not Kerry but also of the way she views other people as well.

The way the writer has shown Sandra’s judgemental side is to also show a contrast in the story to give evidence of change in her character later on in the story. Sandra has a good view of Mrs Rutter mainly because of the portrayal of the woman being ‘really sweet, lots of the old people. ‘ This is her pre-conception before she even sees the old lady. This gives us a good understanding of not only her judging character towards appearances of people but also portrays judgement of personality for the first time also.

Sandra thinks that Mrs Rutter is a very nice lady because of her friendly initial welcome to her, which is understandable because not only does the writer make Sandra think this but the reader also, perhaps to deceive us about Mrs Rutter’s personality and to make ourselves pre- conceive her character too. ‘A creamy smiling pool of a face in which her eyes snapped and darted. ‘ This quote gives the impression of a plump, harmless old woman, which the writer purposely wants us the reader and Sandra to think for the deception that occurs later on in the tale.

The writer encourages us, Sandra and Kerry also to feel sympathy towards her because of the fact that she is alone and her husband’s death in the war was very tragic. ‘He was in one of the first campaigns in Belgium, and he never came back. ‘ The way that Mrs Rutter describes his death creates sympathy naturally and the fact she has been alone for years makes you feel sorry for her further. The writer also creates more sympathy when we learn that she was childless and regrets it because she feels it a loss not to have had any.

It is more shocking to learn about what Mrs Rutter did because of the circumstances that her husband died in. You would have thought that considering he was gunned down in the same way as the German that she would have had more sympathy towards the man. However instead of giving him a chance to live, Mrs Rutter’s coldness and nastiness allowed him to suffer. At this point we see a change in the story where we the reader, Sandra and Kerry see her in a different perspective to what we initially thought of her apart from Kerry, who had a slight suspicion about of her to begin with.

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You can at this point refer to another novel, which sends out a particular message about people. In Lord of the Flies written by William Golding the main concept and moral to the story is that whoever we are there is the potential for evil within us all. ‘Dot said he wasn’t going to last long, good job too, three of them that’ll be. ‘ This quote shows how unconcerned they were about an injured man that they could save from death. The writer shows Mrs Rutter’s coldness by the way that the old woman narrates her story.

Mrs Rutter tells the story in a manner- of- fact way and is not bothered or affected by the events. This makes us disgusted because she does not see how inhumane it was to have done such a thing. ‘Tit for tat I said’. This quote gives evidence of Mrs Rutter seeing what they did as revenge or out of bitterness for the German’s killing her husband, which may be the motive for her horrific actions. This quote shows us that Mrs Rutter has no feeling of guilt or remorse and by showing us this, the writer makes us feel more horrified of what she and her sister did. The boy’s spoon clattered to the floor; he did not move. ‘

This quote gives evidence to us of Kerry’s stunned reaction to Mrs Rutter in the way that he was so shocked he could not move. He is also sickened by the fact that that Mrs Rutter thinks that it is something normal for a person to do. ‘You had this coming to you mate, there’s a war on. ‘ ‘It was what everyone said in those days. ‘ These quotes show that she thought it was humane and acceptable for anyone to do. She used this expression that people had said to justify her actions, but even though people said this would they have left a helpless man to die?

To show that Sandra has changed the writer illustrates the better points of Packer’s End to make her realise that it is not a bad place or most importantly ‘the darkness out there’. ‘Birds sang. There were not, as the girl the girl realised wolves, witches or tigers. ‘ This shows us her realisation that there is nothing to be scared of as she first thought. The writer also by her new view of Packers End shows that she is less naïve of the place and that she has opened her eyes to reality more. Sandra has also grown up in other ways by learning not to pre-judge people as she did with Mrs Rutter and Kerry.

She has realised that it is not appearances that matter but what is inside also, with Mrs Rutter perceived as being a sweet woman but revealing to be a cruel hearted and bitter woman. ‘You could get people all wrong, she realised with alarm. ‘ This quote gives evidence of her realising how wrong her pre-conceptions have been, and her concern of this shows also that she has grown up because of her recognition of this. The writer also emphasises her changes in character by her recognition also of Kerry Stevens not seeming as bad as he looks. ‘He had grown; he had got older and larger.

His anger eclipsed his acne…’ This quote shows Sandra looking at Kerry from a different perspective to the scruffy, dodgy type that she previously thought he was. Sandra overall has discovered that the darkness out there is not Packers End but the cold-heartedness and evil that is present within some people. Referring back to William Golding’s point that ‘the potential for evil is within us all’; the evil was within the innocent looking Mrs Rutter. As a result of these events and changes in character she has become less naïve about things unlike before, which may change her overall attitudes to life and become more wary of the real world.

In ‘Old Mrs Chundle’ our first real impression of the woman is that she is quite stubborn and a grumpy old lady, and when approached by the Curate she quite unwelcoming. ‘A sour look crossed her face’. This quote gives evidence of our initial opinion of her and the writer shows her character to be like this through her actions and expressions rather than through her looks in the ‘Darkness out there. ‘ ‘I tell ‘ee ’tis two pence and no more! ‘ This is an example of this where she seems rude and stubborn through her actions here when talking to the Curate. Old Mrs Chundle is a pre-19th century text and is reflected in the language used and the actions of the characters. ‘ I suppose ’tis the wrong sort, and that ye would sooner have bread and cheese? ‘ This quote shows the different style of language used in the story with ‘ye’ instead of you and ’tis used instead of it is.

Also the actions of the characters in the story reflect the older period when it was written. ‘The lunch hour drew on, and he felt hungry. Quite near him was a stone –built old cottage of respectable and substantial build, he entered and was received by an old woman. This quote gives evidence of an out of character action in today’s society hence showing that this was written pre-19th century. No one today would do that and would instead go to a fast food restaurant or to their own homes for example. There is a contrast in our first impressions that we get of the two old ladies in both stories. Mrs Rutter appears to be a nice, old woman, whilst Mrs Chundle seems to us rather rude. Thomas Hardy has done the same as Penelope Lively in creating a sort of perception for us of a character and then deceives us later in terms of who turns out to be the changed persona and who we pre-conceive.

In this case the changed persona is the Curate and our pre-conception is of Mrs Chundle. The Curate seems very shocked at how Mrs Chundle could lie to him and pre-judges her motives for doing this. ‘Wicked old woman. What can she think of herself for such deception? ‘ But despite this he still tries to get her to church as a challenge and because its his sort of responsibility. ‘I think it was a culpable, unkind thing of you. ‘ This shows the determination of the Curate by confronting her on the matter.

Mrs Chundle agrees to attend church firstly because of the trouble that the curate is willing to, with the ear trumpet for her to attend church. After the trumpet failing he comes up with a sound tube system to again enable her to hear the sermon. The writer makes us feel that the Curate is a good man by illustrating the trouble that he went to for Mrs Chundle to attend church. ‘At great trouble to himself. ‘ The way that the Curate tries everything to help her, the writer shows that he is quite devoted to helping the woman when no one else has ever attempted to.

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The writer shows the change in the Curate’s character by his ignorance of the old lady in the sermon. He blocks up the tube after her bad smell lingers up the tube towards him. ‘Desperately thrusting his thumb into the hole’. This quote shows that the Curate is being very intolerant and has at this point no concern about the old woman, only himself. The Curate is also shown to be self conscious about himself because he has blocked up the pipe probably to avoid further embarrassment towards himself in church. To the Curate’s total dismay Mrs Chundle is very overjoyed by her ability to hear clearly. I shall come every Sunday morning reg’lar, now, please God. ‘

This shows her new enthusiasm about church, and the writer illustrates this by using strong words in her dialogue for example ‘Please God’. After Mrs Chundle attends church regularly the writer shows a transition in the Curate’s character. ‘I cannot stand this I shall tell her not to come. ‘ This quote shows how rude and inconsiderate he is becoming after his encounters with Mrs Chundle. We also see the Curate setting out to reverse what he had been doing just to stop Mrs Chundle bothering him.

He becomes very selfish because he is only considering the consequences of removing the pipe on his part and not hers. For example he simply thinks of no embarrassment at his sermons and no bother, not that the old woman would be unhappy, lonely and not be able to attend something that she enjoys. ‘ I’ve promised to go and read to her but I shan’t go. ‘ The writer also illustrates the Curate to be a very angry man by showing how he puts off a simple task of going to see Mrs Chundle and again does not consider how rude it is towards the old woman. He was described as being ‘vexed’ about the matter viewing it as an ordeal for himself.

He is shown once again by his actions in this story to being a very selfish man and inconsiderate of other people’s feelings. The writer builds up the guilt the Curate should feel after Mrs Chundle’s death by putting the emphasis on Mrs Chundle’s circumstances of death. She became ill partly because perhaps she did not want to let the Curate down after all the trouble that he had went to for her. ‘ She harried overmuch, and runned up the hill. ‘ ‘It upset her heart. ‘ This quote shows the trouble that Mrs Chundle had gone to, to get to church on time so she did not miss the Curate’s sermon.

The writer also creates the guilt by the way that Mrs Chundle did not assume that he did not come for bad reasons as she said that he was so loyal to her. This creates guilt by the fact that Mrs Chundle thought so well of him. ‘You were so staunch and faithful in wishing to do her good. ‘ This quote emphasises how well she thought of him and how loyal she considered the Curate to be, and it also shows that she had no doubt at all that he was being unkind towards her in any way. The writer finally emphasises the point of guilt concerning the will by the words that Mrs Chundle said to the woman as she handed over the will to give to the Curate. He’s a man in a thousand. He’s not ashamed of an old woman…’ This quote gives evidence that Mrs Chundle considers him very considerate and kind, when told this the Curate must have felt not only guilt but also moved too.

This is because of the way that she thought of him so highly. Also the amount of possessions that Mrs Chundle had left the Curate shows a lot. Firstly it made him realise that he was the only friend that she had and did not have much in her life at all. It also shows that he must have meant a lot to her for her to leave him with everything that she owned. On opening it he found it to be what she called her will, in which she’d left him her…’ This quote shows the extent at which she had given him in return for the good ways she had thought that the Curate treated her. The way that Mrs Chundle died and the will for example, are used by the writer to make us assume that the Curate will be guilty, shocked and upset over her death. This is also because of the way that he treated her. However judging by the ending the Curate does not seem very flustered by everything and is very calm apart from a tear in his eye.

The writer uses ‘like Peter’ to compare what the Curate has done with Peter before the death of Christ. The correlation is that they both betrayed Mrs Chundle and Christ, which is effective because Hardy shows the extent of the Curate’s unkindness further. ‘And as he went his eyes were wet…’ This quote shows to us that the Curate is moved in some way by what has happened. Although he prays we assume for forgiveness and Mrs Chundle, will he change for the future or does he consider that a prayer of repentance will be good enough and he will no longer feel any more guilt? ‘ He rose brushed the knees of his trousers, and walked on.

This quote at the end does suggest that now he has prayed for his sins that he can carry on normally, and that the Curate has not really learnt his lesson. At this point we as the reader are expected to be and are very sympathetic towards Mrs Chundle and only contempt towards the Curate. Therefore you can clearly see that again the writer has created a reversal in character feeling, because we liked the Curate at first as he went to all the trouble for Mrs Chundle. However he reversed in to a rude and inconsiderate man. Whereas we initially thought Mrs Chundle was rude but she turned out to be a kind and thoughtful woman.

In ‘The Darkness Out There’ and ‘Old Mrs Chundle’, both writers have created a good effect of deception where the Sandra and we the reader are surprised in the change in character of Mrs Rutter, Mrs Chundle and the Curate. As a result of the encounters with these two old women, both of the main characters have changed in different ways. During the story the curate changed from being a kind-hearted man to being rude, selfish and ignorant towards Mrs Chundle. The Curate like Sandra was also naïve himself because he could not realise how his bad actions were affecting the old woman.

He does change a little because he realises what his duties are as a Curate and in future how far he should take them, like not interfering so much with others. Sandra has changed her view on life by being more realistic about things rather than having her head up in the clouds so much. She is also less naïve about people and has learned not to be so pre-judgemental about people and that looks can be deceiving. The writer shows Sandra’s change in character by comparing her views of Packers End before and after she has changed in attitude to emphasise the fact that she has grown up more.

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'The Darkness Out There' written by Penelope Lively Essay
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' The Darkness Out There' written by Penelope Lively is a twentieth century story about a girl called Sandra who over a trip to an old lady's house realises that appearances can be deceiving and learns not to be so prejudge mental to people. She learns to be more mature and less naïve. Old Mrs Chundle' is a pre-twentieth century tale about a curate who through an encounter with an old woman realises that he did not live up to the good person he had always imagined he had been, and also he fee
2018-05-23 21:36:51
'The Darkness Out There' written by Penelope Lively Essay
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