Charles Dickens describes ‘A Christmas carol’ as ‘a ghost story for Christmas. ‘ In what ways can the novel be considered a ghost story? And why is it an appropriate tale for Christmas? Nearly all conventions of the ‘ghost story’ genre are the same. The typical opening for a ghost story would be for there to be either a dramatic beginning in which somebody dies and then later on in the story comes back as a ‘ghost’ to haunt a victim. Another possible beginning would be that we are introduced to the main character/ghost and the ghost has come back maybe to finish some un-finished business.
The author may also open the story wish a legend to do with ghostly sightings or mysterious goings on. It may also be based upon a description of the main character/victim that is to be haunted or the place in which the ghost will appear first. In a typical ghost story the setting would be, in an old mansion, graveyard, church, deserted town/village or house. The atmosphere would usually include things such as eeriness, suspense, cold, dark, damp nights, maybe a full moon, and silence wit creepy noises in the background area.
Maybe trees swaying and doors banging, stairs creaking and wind chimes in the background. This is to create a feeling of suspense and make you want to know what happens next. The weather would normally be very stormy with thunder and lightening with rain or fog. These elements make it creepy and the thunder and lightening is dramatic so it could be a sing of what is to come. The dark is linked in with night time, which brings up the idea’s of the fear of things that can not be seen which makes normal things such as a tree seem frightening as they are shadowed and may only be seen faintly through fog or mist.
Also if a fog is around then you would mainly see silhouettes/outlines of things such as people and tree’s in the distant this could also seem worrying. The characters would normal consist of a ghost/ghoul, a sceptic and a believer a main victim and maybe their friends/family. When a lot of people think of ghost stories they think of things that scare them. A lot of people would associate characters such as strangers, mad scientists, somebody who would with hold information, and a hero.
These types’s of characters bring questions to our minds and would worry us as why would somebody with important information not want to say anything? Or a mad scientist chasing you around at night would surely scare you. In a typical plot line for a ghost story you would expect to have events that happen to create a sense or fear and suspense to make you wonder what is going to happen next and make you read on. It would also normally include foreshadowing maybe a death before hand and as a result somebody being haunted. It could include a series of hauntings and deaths and could be based upon a legend of years before hand.
The ending of a ghost story is normally one of two options; a closed ending in which the ghost is found/or has fulfilled it’s duty on earth and can leave, or an open ending in which the ghost is not found and the haunting will carry on. In a lot of endings the ghost is revealed to the victim/believer to be somebody they know and then all becomes clear about the ghosts purpose of being there. Older ghost stories concentrated more on being plain ghost stories frightening people rather than the modern ones with more guts and blood in.
The older stories were just ‘tales’ in which a ghost haunted people by maybe making strange things happen, they did not go into the depth of the ghosts having a purpose to be there which the modern day stories do. The older stories were mainly from books and spoken. The horror element was a greater fact and things that today we would have laughed at would have been seen as true “horror. ” They were a lot more superstitious then to. The hero would always win in the end and it would be a totally closed ending.
Whereas modern day ghost stories can be viewed on television, at cinema’s can be listened to on the radio but still also read from books. They have less impact in today’s society and a lot do not fit in with the typical conventions of a ghost story as they have been mixed in with other genres like comedy and science fiction. A lot are also made into a series not just one story. The Sixth Sense’ is a modern day ghost film with a lot of the typical features of a ghost story. The basic plot outline is that there is a psychiatric doctor who has had many cases but on one he has failed.
One night one of his patients he treated once returns to his house and shoots him down. After this the story line becomes confusing as it suddenly cross’s over to the life of a young boy and his mother. The young boy claims to see “dead people,” this lead’s us to wonder is it just a desperate cry for attention or is there really such thing as another life? One day whilst the young child is at a friend’s party ‘bullies’ lock him in a cupboard. Whilst in the cupboard the children outside hear noises and begin to “freak out” and the child’s mother is alerted.
The door is jammed shut but from the inside noises are heard to make us believe the child is being “attacked”. When the child is finally let out he is covered in scratches and bruisers but no body can explain them as nobody else was in the cupboard, he was alone. It is at this point we are lead to believe the words he speaks are true and that he really does see “dead people. ” Malcolm the doctor is called and he tries to help Cole confront his fears. Cole is attacked at many periods during the film and has various scars mentally and physically.
In one scene we are shown his school as an old town building where criminals were tried and hung. It is as if we are in Cole’s memory because as he walks along the corridor we see ghosts with various cuts and slashes in them with lots of blood. It is quite a violent scene. As a helpless messenger Cole is terrified by threatening visits from those with unresolved problems (ghosts) who appear from the shadows, Confused by his paranormal powers, Cole is too young to Understand his purpose and too terrified to tell anyone of his