The Woman in Black - Character
Test your English Literature skills in this enjoyable quiz.

The Woman in Black - Character

This GCSE English Literature quiz asks questions about The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. The Woman in Black is narrated by its central character, Arthur Kipps. Other figures who feature in the novel are his employer, Mr Bentley, his friend, Samuel Daily, his fiancée, Stella, his wife Esmé and her children, the landlord of the Gifford Arms, and Keckwick, the driver of the pony and trap which conveys Arthur across Nine Lives Causeway. Mrs Drablow and Jennet Humfrye, who are both dead at the time of Arthur’s visit to Crythin Gifford, play important roles in the tale nonetheless. Because Arthur narrates his own tale, the audience perceives events and other characters through his eyes. Stella, for example, is a fairly shadowy figure, evoked whenever Arthur thinks of home and comfort. She appears in the novel only twice: once when she comes north to accompany Arthur home and then again at her tragic death.

Arthur is a self-reliant man in his business life, although he appreciates the presence of his family at home. This characteristic is ideally suited to a ghost story which involves the main character not really believing the dark hints and suspicions local people nervously share with him. Arthur’s only companion on the island is the dog, Spider, who provides him with some comfort when he confronts the terrors of the house.

Always pay close attention to the way in which characters interact in a work of fiction, or, in this instance, the way in which a narrating character represents others. With first person narration, our view of other characters and their motivations is limited to whatever Arthur himself knows, although he also has the benefit of hindsight since he writes down his recollection of the events surrounding his visit to Eel Marsh House long after these occur. Thus, although we can see that he himself has changed over time, we are not able to perceive such character development in others. Instead, we discover the mystery behind the ghost of the Woman in Black.

Answer the questions below to see how well you understand the characters in The Woman in Black.

Arthur Kipps is employed in which profession?
As a solicitor
As a doctor
As a teacher
As a clergyman
Arthur works for Mr Bentley's law firm, Bentley, Haigh, Sweetman and Bentley
"Then, my boy, go home and pack your bags, and take the afternoon train from King's Cross, changing at Crewe and again at Homerby. From Homerby, you take the branch line to the little market town of Crythin Gifford." What do these lines tell us about Mr Bentley?
He is older than Arthur
He is organised
He expects Arthur to follow instructions
All of the above
By calling Arthur, "my boy", Mr Bentley reveals himself to be rather paternalistic as a boss. The reader already knows this detail of his character from learning that it is at his suggestion that Arthur buys a house in the countryside
Who is Esmé?
Arthur's first wife
The longtime inhabitant of Eel Marsh House
Arthur's second wife
The bereaved mother whose ghost is known as the Woman in Black
Esmé represents the restoration of a sweet, feminine, domestic presence long after Arthur's loss of Stella
Puzzled by the landlord's abrupt behaviour after learning his business in Crythin Gifford, Arthur dismisses his remarks as "local tales and silliness which had grown out of all proportion, as such things will do in small, out of the way communities, which have only themselves to look to for whatever melodrama and mystery they can extract out of life." What do these thoughts tell the reader about Arthur?
He believes himself to be calm and rational, while the inhabitants of the small town are gullible and irrational
He is afraid that he shares the gullibility of the local townspeople
He admires the landlord and local townspeople for their levelheadedness
He believes the local townspeople to be more sensible than Londoners, with their love of melodrama
Arthur confesses that he "had the Londoner's sense of superiority in those days, the half-formed belief that countrymen, and particularly those who inhabited the remoter corners of our island, were more superstitious, more gullible, more slow-witted, unsophisticated and primitive, than we cosmopolitans"
Samuel Daily might be described as which of the following?
Mr Daily always seems to know what Arthur will need; he gives Arthur the dog, Spider, to be a reassuring presence on the island and also turns up to rescue Arthur when he is in serious danger and has almost become trapped in the tidal mud
Which of the following characters might be described as vengeful?
Mrs Drablow
Jennet Humfrye
Mr Jerome
Mr Daily
Arthur reads one letter in which Jennet Humfrye threatens to kill herself and her child rather than let him be taken away and Mr Daily reports that she threatened her sister with violence unless she could see her son. Her vengeful nature is revealed most clearly in her ghostly afterlife
The narrator describes Mr Jerome as bland, professional and courteous, with a "shuttered expression". What does this phrase mean?
Mr Jerome has long hair which obscures his expression
Mr Jerome wears his heart on his sleeve
Mr Jerome is an angry man
Mr Jerome does not reveal his thoughts through his facial expressions
Mr Jerome's blandness and closed expression serve as a protective feature since he must attend to the affairs of Mrs Drablow even though he has personally suffered the loss of a child through the Woman in Black's malevolence
What does the reader know of Stella's character?
She is friendly and caring
She is clever and somewhat stand-offish
She is cold and bitter
She is nervous and troubled
We do not know much about Stella's character, understanding much more about Arthur's feelings for her. She represents blissful domesticity: Arthur often imagines their domestic life together. When she comes to meet Arthur and accompany him back to London, her warmth and friendliness means that she is able to entice Mrs Daily to speak
When Keckwick returns to the island in the middle of the night after being delayed by the sea-fret, he says to Arthur, "I wouldn't have left you over the night, wouldn't have done that to you." What do these words display of his character?
He is chatty
He is warm
He is empathetic
He is cowardly
Keckwick comes out in the middle of the night because he knows how terrifying the island can be and does not wish Arthur to suffer. This means he empathises with Arthur's feelings, even though he hardly knows the lawyer and barely spoke to him on the outward journey to the house
How does Arthur respond to the events he experiences during his first few hours on the island?
He is overcome by horror, feeling both claustrophobic in the house and angry
He experiences an overwhelming physical response to hearing cries and screams and other sounds of the pony and trap sinking into the mud
He retreats to a bottle of brandy for comfort
All of the above
He berates himself for his "foolish independence and blockheadedness in ignoring all the hints and veiled warnings [he] had received"
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Characters

Author:  Sheri Smith

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