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Comparison of Horror Stories Assignment

In this essay I will try to compare and contrast the way in which tension is built and a sense of Horror achieved between The Body Snatcher and The Lottery. In the Body Snatcher the tension is built up very well. It starts with the setting of a horror scene, which is an out of the way local pub where one would not be surprised if was horror to take place. The use of tone setting words help to emphasise the way in which words can affect the overall picture of the story and the way in which horror is built.

It also sets out the scary image of a dark and mysterious figure sitting in the corner. It also comes in with the classic horror clichi?? of the action being set ‘One dark winter night’! This has been a traditional device to build up a sense of suspense and horror. We are already alerted to the probability of something unsettling happening. The older horror stories like the body snatcher tend to build the main characters up as being very dark, mysterious and also that they have split personalities, alter egos or weird monstrous forms that they may turn into at any time.

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Shape shifting has been a well-used device in horror stories for centuries. The language used in the body snatcher is quite old fashioned, with examples such as the apparent lack of knowledge towards medical terms and theories that are nowadays well known facts. This gives a strong historical feel to the events taking place. The story gives out a strong sense of the apprehensiveness felt towards the medicine practice in the 1800’s, this distrust is evident in this book.

The villains are just trying to expand their medical knowledge and increase their power over nature by dissecting human beings. The story also unfolds strong themes of menace and warning about the evil that occurs in man’s heart. The evil is the fact that people can commit such crimes with no mercy, no feeling and most obviously no sense of morals or rights or wrongs. The writer builds up the tension of the story very well in the line that precedes the arrival of the two Body Snatchers; ‘The ghouls had come later than usual, and seemed to want more than usual to go’.

The writer also yet again injects a moment of horror in a descriptive medical way with the discovery of the body, ‘ by marks he identified the girl he had jested with the day before. He saw, with horror marks upon her body that might well have betoken violence. ” This moment the writer cleverly shows that the snatcher has a moment of moral questioning or maybe just his so far non-existent conscience kicking in. Adding atmospheric descriptive words like dark, cloudy, windy, and bitter cold and frosty further emphasises throughout the tension of the story.

All these words give you a sense of a terror this prepares you for to the crime that will follow the setting of the scene. The introduction of one of the main characters like Gray is also done in a way to build tension and also to add a horrific mysterious edge to each of the characters, He does this by describing Gray as a stranger, a small man, very pale and dark, with coal black eyes’, a scary image, which intensifies the build up of tension.

The writer then further shows the apprehension felt for the medical profession by making Fette’s say ‘We medicals have a better way than that, when we dislike a dead friend we dissect them. The writer tries to indicate the fact that at times the sense of morality raises its head of the body snatchers, for instance when He writes, ‘A horrible sense of blackness and the treachery of fate seized hold upon the soul of the unhappy student. My god! , What have I done, and when did I begin.

The shape of the story is a short story with punchy horror twists, unlike the lottery where there is quite an intriguing enigma installed from the start and the only twist coming at the end. The events unfold exceptionally predictably in the Body Snatcher and you can see every twist coming a mile off, compared to The Lottery where there is a major suburbia shattering twist. This style of predictable horror stories was characteristic of the 1800’s through to the 1900’s, but nowadays the horror stories are packed with more unpredictable twists

The Lottery was written in 1881 but it was refused publication for three years due to immoral questions raised by the story. There were also questions raised about the pursuit of personal gain and clearly greed. The Lottery’s theme is of a perfect America suburbia town that is not all that it seems. Its surreally happy surface is the way that it establishes tension in contrast to novels written in the 1800’s that seemed to constantly involve medical freaks and killers.

The lottery on the hand has been deliberately written so that the perfect town image that the town people portray is simply a mask for wicked and dastardly crimes that go on behind the fai?? ade. The beginning of the Lottery immediately establishes an enigma that is just dieing to be solved in the readers mind. The enigma revolves around the contents of the much-published box and why would everybody dread the draw of a small towns local lottery. In comparison to the Body Snatcher the Lottery lacks the chilling, atmospheric and creepy horror settings.

I think this change in horror setting and genre is mostly due to major influences on the writers at the time, so in 1800’s it was medical development and invention, leading to the twentieth century where readers demand less predictable story lines and more twists and also more realistic situations. Having started with the writer setting up the mental image of a perfect house in a perfect neighbourhood it makes the horror all the more unexpected when it finally arrives.

The tension is built throughout the story by the way that you know this perfection cannot last, and you are anticipating the moment that it shatters. And that soon or later it will be broken, and by the sounds of it will probably be by the Lottery. I think the lottery is much more written for twentieth century readers I think this is because of the way the plot unravels and that it is more realistic than the monsters and ghouls of the past century! The horror is more psychological then horror out there. The writer also builds up the tension by writing stuff in the story like ‘there’s always been a lottery!

This implies the fact that this is some annual ritual that has took place for years before. The characters are not built up as much as in the body snatcher and they have not been given dark and mysterious personalities. Instead the writer in the lottery has instead chosen to concentrate on the plot and also the building of tension of the drawing of the lottery. The lottery raises the moral question that if you are conditioned into doing something it seems morally acceptable, like stoning someone to death for instance!

The church also played a greater part in peoples lives in the 1800’s and early 1900’s century unlike today where I think religion has taken more of a backseat to peoples busy lifestyles. This reliance on the church meant that the Body Snatcher was morally incorrect in most Christian’s eyes, and that even to read this story would be a sin against god. The horror in the body snatcher is very much to do with the darkness of mans heart, greed and the apparent need for an increase in knowledge that all humans possess.

The atmosphere of the Lottery was very tense and edgy in comparison to the body snatcher where there is more emphasises on setting a dark cold and gloomy atmosphere. In conclusion I think these are two very different stories, this mostly being a reflection of the time they were published and so to make clear comparisons would be difficult considering the different nature of the books, but to make theme comparisons is not as difficult. But I do think there is a clear contrast in the way tension is built up between the two stories. One might be described as a gothic, horror style and the other as a psychological thriller.

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