The Woman in Black

by

Susan Hill

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The Woman in Black: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When Arthur awakes in the morning, he feels weary and ill—his nerves and imagination are on edge. He rises from bed, takes a hot bath, and begins feeling a little bit better. As he eats breakfast, he reflects on the previous evening. Coming back from the marsh, he swore he would have nothing more to do with the Drablow estate at all, and would return to London at first opportunity. Now, in the light of day, he does not feels inclined to run away.
Things are always more frightening at night—in the light of day, Arthur second-guesses the intensity of his fears and the depths of his trauma, and tries to convince himself that things at Eel Marsh House weren’t all that bad, and that to run away would be cowardice.
Themes
Gothic Horror Theme Icon
Isolation and Trauma Theme Icon
The landlord comes to clear away Arthur’s dishes, and Arthur apologizes for coming in so late the previous evening. The landlord says that Arthur’s late arrival was better than “an uncomfortable night anywhere else.” Arthur tells the landlord he wants to take a long walk; the landlord suggests Arthur borrow a bicycle, and Arthur is cheered by the idea of bicycling. First, however, he wants to speak with Mr. Jerome about sending an office boy to Eel Marsh with Arthur so that he does not have to face the manor alone again. Arthur vows to return to the house only to sort through the papers inside, returning well before dark and not exploring the grounds any further under any circumstances.
Despite the wild horror he experienced the previous evening, Arthur believes that he can work up the courage—and manipulate time in his favor—and visit Eel Marsh House once more. He is determined to complete his work, out of his own sense of pride and out of an obligation to his employer and his firm alike.
Themes
Gothic Horror Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Isolation and Trauma Theme Icon
Arthur arrives at Mr. Jerome’s office and knocks at the door. Mr. Jerome answers; it is clear from the look on his face that he is not pleased to see Arthur, but lets him in nonetheless. Arthur explains that there is a massive amount of paperwork inside the Eel Marsh House, and that in order to prevent taking up residence in Crythin Gifford for a long time, he requires some help sorting through it. Mr. Jerome tells Arthur that he cannot help him—he is on his own at the office. Arthur inquires whether there is any young man in town who wants to earn some money by assisting him, but Jerome insists there is no one suitable.
Arthur wants to casually ask Mr. Jerome for some help up at the manor, but has underestimated the power of the horrors there to intimidate the town into paralysis and fear. Eel Marsh House’s reputation has isolated it from the rest of town—no one will even set foot there for fear of whatever deep terrors lie within it.
Themes
Gothic Horror Theme Icon
Isolation and Trauma Theme Icon
Arthur tells Mr. Jerome that he understands what Jerome is getting at—there is not a soul in town or out of it willing to spend any time at all at Eel Marsh House “for fear of encountering what [Arthur has] already encountered.” Arthur reveals that he saw the woman in black again, and asks if the graveyard outside of Eel Marsh House is the Drablow family plot. Jerome’s face has taken on a sickly gray pallor, and Arthur understands how seriously Jerome is affected by any mention of the woman in black. Arthur considers asking Jerome to tell him more about her, and about what horrors Jerome has seen or heard of at the house, but decides against it—he knows that when he returns to Eel Marsh, he will have to rely on his own senses, and nothing more.
Arthur attempts to call Mr. Jerome’s bluff, in a way, and reveal the horrors of what he has seen as a way of leveling with the man—but Arthur soon realizes that taking this tack only isolates him from Jerome even more. Jerome is seriously, deeply disturbed by any mention of the woman in black—and this terrifies Arthur, who believes that he must return to the manor and face it, even if it means encountering the woman again and subjecting himself to his own worst, most morbid fears.
Themes
Gothic Horror Theme Icon
The Past Theme Icon
Isolation and Trauma Theme Icon
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Arthur takes his leave, and Mr. Jerome expresses the hope that Arthur will not encounter the woman in black again. Arthur, putting on a show of carefree cheerfulness, urges Jerome not to worry about him, and hurries from the office.
Arthur senses how deeply perturbed Mr. Jerome is—but to properly acknowledge Jerome’s fear would be to acknowledge his own, and jeopardize his mission.
Themes
Gothic Horror Theme Icon
Isolation and Trauma Theme Icon
Arthur returns to the inn and composes a letter to Mr. Bentley. He reveals that he has discovered a hoard of papers in the old house and will be in town for longer than expected—perhaps the whole week. He makes an offhand remark about Eel Marsh House’s “bad reputation,” and warns Mr. Bentley that this will make it difficult to secure any help. He puts the letter on a table in the lobby, with outgoing mail, and then takes the landlord’s bicycle out for a ride.
Rather than writing to Mr. Bentley to express the sense of distress he feels and ask for help, Arthur acts like everything is all right—if a little tedious and vaguely spooky. This demonstrates his reluctance to admit even to himself the magnitude of horror he has faced down in Crythin Gifford.
Themes
Gothic Horror Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Isolation and Trauma Theme Icon
Arthur cycles out of town, intending to go straight to the next village over to have lunch at another country inn. Once out of town, though, he cannot help looking back at the beautiful marshes, which hold a strange allure despite the horrors he knows lurk within them. Arthur understands that his emotions have become volatile and extreme in the short time since he arrived, and wonders whether his friends and family will notice the change within him when he returns to London.
Arthur attempts to lighten his day—and his mood—with a jaunt through the countryside, but is psychologically pulled back to the marshy, damp, eerie world of Eel Marsh House. He knows that an irreversible change has taken place within him, and on some level fears that this will isolate him from the people he knows in London upon his return.
Themes
Storytelling Theme Icon
Isolation and Trauma Theme Icon