The Woman in Black (1989) plot summary
In the early 20th century, Authur Kidd, a young solicitor, is sent to deal with the house of an elderly widow (Mrs Drablow) who has just died. He attends the funeral: As Mrs Drablow's coffin is being lowered into its grave, a woman in black is seen. Not long afterwards, a gipsy child is nearly killed as some logs fall on her, but Arthur saves her.
He then discovers that the house he has to deal with is on an island, reached only by a misty causeway, which is surrounded by marshes, and floods at high tide. One of the locals, Mr Keckwick, takes him there. After Mr Keckwick has gone, the woman in black suddenly reappears. She is an old woman with a wasted face, with very cold eyes, which radiate hate. She advances slowly towards Arthur, who turns and rushes into the house.
Later that evening, he hears the sound of a pony and trap approaching, the trap falling into the marsh, and a child screaming, but there is nothing to see. He then hears thumping coming from a room in the house, but the room is locked. He goes to fetch an axe, and when he returns, the door is open, showing that the room is a tidy nursery, and a ball is bouncing around. There is the sound of a child laughing.
The next evening, he hears the sound of the pony trap falling into the marsh again, sounding exactly the same as before. The same evening, Keckwick comes back. Arthur takes him up to the nursery, which although it was neat before, is now totally smashed up.
Arthur now has a nervous breakdown, and Keckwick takes him back to the village. Keckwick explains that every time the woman in black has appeared, a child has died somewhere, and that when the woman in black was alive, her only child had been taken away from her. On the day she was to see her child, that child fell into the marsh and died (the sound we hear), and her spirit has been seeking revenge ever since.
After Arthur has returned home, he hears the child's voice in his room, and starts talking to the child, causing the woman in black to appear with furious and terrifying snarls. (That is one scary scene!)
In attempt to exorcise the woman in black, Arthur burns all the documents relating to the house. We also learn that the house itself has been burned to the ground.
THEATRE PLAY VERSION:
In the early 20th century, Authur Kipps, a young man who works for a solicitor, is sent to deal with the house of an elderly widow (Mrs Alice Drablow) who has just died. He attends the funeral as a representative, and, as Mrs Drablow's coffin is being lowered into its grave, Arthur turns to see a woman in black has appeared at his side. Her face is white, gaunt, and wasted, but he can see her body is still that of a less than middle aged woman. He turns to see if anyone else has seen her, but no one else has batted an eyelid, and the woman in black storms out, disappearing into a hole in the stage. As he travels he soon discovers that the house he has to deal with is on an island, which is surrounded by dangerous marshes, where people have died, and can only be reached when floods are at low tide, and "frets" which can come in an instant from a clear blue sky. Everytime he tries to talk about Mrs Drablow or her house, people go silent, or try to leave the room, or rapidly change the subject. He soon learns no one will talk about it, and suspects that something weird or unpleasent is going on at the house. But he doesn't believe in ghosts. The only way he can get there is by pony trap, and one of the locals, Mr Keckwick, takes him there. He's the only man that will. After Mr Keckwick has gone back to the mainland , Arthur doesn't go straight into the house...he goes round the back, to an old, disused graveyard, and the woman in black suddenly reappears. He suddenly realises that she has very cold eyes, which radiate hate, anger and...madness. She turns on her heel, away from Arthur, and starts away, back towards the marshes. He chases after her, but he can no longer see her...but he can see for miles, and there's no where she could possibly hide around there. He gives up his search, and feels for the key in his pocket before rushign in, and switching on the lights.
Later that evening, he hears something outside and, (stupidly) goes to investigate. The whole place is suddenyl shrouded in fog, and he hears the sound of a pony and trap approaching. He tries to find it, but can't see it, but hears more noises, worse noises. Theres the sound of horses protesting, but the driver telling then to go on, and then a slight sucking sound, and you can tell the trap has fallen into the marsh. A child scream, and so does a woman, but there is still nothing to see. Frightened, he runs back into the house and tries to engross himself into his paperwork. But then something starts to make a thumping sound. It is a steady sound, but fast, and terrifying in its own way, chilling him (and the audience) to the bone. He follows the sound up a flight of stairs and discovers that it's coming from a room which can only be entered through a small door. He goes to open it but, wait the room is locked. He finds this strange, creepy. There is no bolt on the outside of the door, and no keyhole...so it can only be locked from the inside. But no one else is here! No one else can be here! Why would they? He'd only been here for a few hours yet he was creeped to the bone! And he had been planning to spend a couple of NIGHTS there? Staying over? Hah! Like hell...
He bangs and bangs on the door, but nothing happens and he leaves it, confused and scared, but still unsure whether or not he believes in ghosts (which kind of shows he's a bit of a div). He goes back to the mainland to collect his stuff so he can stay for the night, but asks whether he can have some company. He is told no, and asks why. "Because there are no young people here willing to take the job?"
"No one? No young man eager to earn a few extra pounds?" He is told firmly NO, and leaves it, wondering WHY there are no younger people around. He passes someone in the street, ah, a man (a rich landowner) he met on the train down here, who tell him that no one else goes there but MR Keckwick, and even he won't stay the night, so he can take the rich landowners dog, Spider. Before he goes back down to the house with Spider, he puts a letter from his fiancee into his pocket to comfort him. he returns to the house, and spends hours going through the papers and letters that Mrs Drablow has kept. He soon notices the dog wants to play outside, and lets him out, throwing a stick for him aswell. Then he hears the thumping sound again, and returns to the room, only to find the door is open this time. The thump noise is still going on, and he goes into the room, only to see a rocking chair just rocking on it's own, no one sitting in it, but as it rocks it hits the floor violently before being thrust backwards again, then backwards then forwards, then backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards... he stops it moving, and looks around. he is in a tidy children's nursery, toys lining the inside of a cupboard with unreal neatness. The toys must have been there for over half a century, untouched, yet they seem as if they have been played with only yesterday.
Later, he is reading letters, to a "My dear" or "my dearest Alice", and signed from a Jenette Humphrey's. They are all about what sounds like a child. "I will never give him up! No one can make me I am proud to have him as my son..." but the tone soon changes to this: "I suppose it is for the best. For his own sake. but remember, he wil never be yours! He is mine! Mine I tell you! Mine! Oh, I am sorry, I don't know what came over me. just take care of hime as if he was your own..." He is completly bewildred as puts them down again. Later he wakes up after the dog starts barking at what seems like nothing, but he eventually gets up. He uses a torch to try and see what's making the dog act weird, and he can't see anything, and so sits down. he hears the slightest hint of a dress swoop behind him, and he raises the torch...and it just catches the flash of the woman in black's face. He drops the torch, and it goes out. he can no longer see the woman, and so goes to light a night light that he saw earlier, inside the child's room. He steps out, and goes to try and find the woman, still not believing in ghosts, but we see something, in his shadow is a hand, a hand that seems to reach out towards our Mr Kipps in a terrifying way. Just as it gets near him, he dorps the candle, and it goes out, and Spider runs out of the house. Arthur watches as the dog starts to fade into a quickly appearing fog, but then seems to see the dog in distress. He run out onto the boggy grounds, and sees Spider is rapidly sinking in the quicksand like substance. He grabs the dogs neck and finally manages to pull her to safety. He relaxes on the ground, comforting the scared dog, when he hears a hears the sound of the pony trap falling into the marsh again, sounding exactly the same as before. He is petrified when the he hears another pony trap coming towards him this time. Would it drown right next to him? Would he be able to do nothing but watch them drown? Or...were they coming after him this time? But it's alright in the end. It's Keckwick, the pony trap driver, come to take him back to the mainland, not wanting to leave him here over night. Arthur thanks him, but says he just has to get his things. He says he won't be long. Arthur packs his things, and then spots a bundle of letters on the floor that he hasn't read yet, so he looks around, almost to see if the woman in black is watching him, and puts them in his pocket. He gets up, and starts to leave, but is no sooner near the door when he hears a noise...the noise of a child's music box, singing it's lullaby to the freaky night air. He turns to the door, it's closed again, and he put his hand on the door handle, to open it, and a blood curdling scream as soon as he touches the door handle. He flinches, but still manages to touch it and open it. He walks in the room, and the chair is, yet again, thrashing wildly as it did before, and he looks around the room. The first words that came into his mind are probably unrepeatable, as he sees that the room, which was previously so neat beforehand, is now totally smashed up. Everything looks like it has been thrown around, toys strew on the floor, material hangin over everything, as if the act has been commited during serious hate...anger...and madness.
Arthur is now having a nervous breakdown as he runs back out to the pony and trap, and Keckwick takes him back to the village. Mr Dailey, the wealthy landowner, explains her story. The woman in black is Jenette Humphrey. Her sister is Alice Drablow, who was married in Eel House (the house on the marsh). Jenette had a child out of wedlock, which was a social crime in the days when this story is set, and she was pressured into putting her son up for adoption. Alice and her sister adopted him as their own, and (at first) didn't allow Jenette to see him. Eventually they did, on the conditions that she was never alone with him and that she could never tell him who she was, or let slip that they were related in any way. Mych to many people's suprise Jenette and her son grew close, and they looked so alike you could tell from a glance that they were mother and son. Their bond compelled Jenette to take him away with her, and she planned to do that, when he was six years old. As she waited, on that day, to see him and talk to him, she watched from a window in Eel House, wanting to see the trap take them home after a day out. She continued to watch, but could do nothing as a fret suddenly appeared so that the driver and the horses could see nothing in front of them. The ponies became uneasy, and the driver urged them on, but they had already started to sink into the murky marshes. The boy and his nursemaid, the driver, and the ponies, along with the boy's small dog, all drowned, while Jenette watched, helpless from the window, knowing that if she ventured outside then that was it. She was sure to die. It was said that the sound haunted that same spot (and the womans ears) forever after. Ms Humphrey's went mad, blaming the death of her son on her sister for allowing them to go out that day, hating her for it, and wanting revenge. Jenette soon developed a disease which left the skin on her face looking white, and gaunt, the skin taught as if stretched upon her face when it was far to small. It is unknown whether this was due to her madness, stress, or the disease, but she died of heart failure. As soon as she died, the hauntings began, and everytime that the woman in black has appeared, a child has died somewhere, which is why the village is so empty of young people. The people do not speak of the woman in black because their experiences with her have always lead to child deaths...usually their children aswell.
After a while, we feel that the rich landowner has finished talking about the woman in black, and Arthur falls into a deeps sleep, and that's when we bring you to the scariest (in my curled-up-terrified-in-a-ball opinion) scene in the entire play. We suddenly see the rocking chair again, and it's rocking again, violently. Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump goes the chair...but it's different this time because the woman in black is sitting in it, not blinking, looking almost dead. You could think that she was if she didn't suddenly get up off the chair in a VERY scary manner, and then suddenly stop to look at you as you watch her silohette on the shadowey stairs, going towards the small door, into the children's nursery...
And he wake. Thankfully, because me and the person next to me were gripping each others hands so tightly that I reckon we broke a few of each others bones, it stopped and he woke up. He decides not to go back into the house and leaves it there. Thank god. At least...until it has to go onto the END of the story....
See yah ( i saw this on wednesday) and its scared me just to write about it. Byes! Kenn4eva!
Submitted by Batty