The Woman in Black

by

Susan Hill

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The Woman in Black: Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After a four-hour jaunt to the next town over, Arthur returns to Crythin Gifford feeling positively aglow. He feels like a new man—he is not just ready, but eager to face down the Drablow house again. In his defiant mood, he is hardly paying attention to where he’s going, and nearly steers his bike straight into Samuel Daily’s motor car.
Arthur has, over the course of a few short hours, convinced himself that he is powerful and capable enough to return to Eel Marsh House and conquer whatever lies within it.
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Samuel Daily lowers the window and asks Arthur if he has been out to Eel Marsh; Arthur proudly answers that he has. There is a brief silence between the two men before Arthur begins insisting that he is “enjoying” the challenge of cleaning out the house. Daily warns Arthur that he is “whistling in the dark,” and invites him over to dinner at seven o’clock that evening. He urges Arthur to get instructions to his house from the landlord, and then sits back as his driver pulls away.
Arthur, fresh off an enjoyable bike ride to the next town over, feels emboldened when he runs into Daily again. He is proud to share the “challenges” he has faced at Eel Marsh House—and at the same time, no doubt subconsciously desperate for connection with a familiar face in light of the fear and horror he has recently experienced.
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Back at the hotel, Arthur begins making arrangements for the next day or so—he asks for the landlord to ready a basket of food for him to take over to Eel Marsh, and procures from town some tea, coffee, bread, biscuits, and matches himself. He purchases a torch lantern and heavy rain boots, wanting to be prepared for anything. When he tells the landlord that he plans to spend tomorrow night and the night after at Eel Marsh, the landlord is silent; Arthur knows that they are both remembering the frenzied state in which Arthur returned to the inn just the previous evening.
Arthur has a fastidious, almost manic excitement about him as he prepares for his grand return to Eel Marsh House. Arthur is going to do things “right” this time—he is bringing along provisions and emergency supplies, and has convinced himself that he is capable and prepared for anything. The quiet moment of shared understanding with the landlord, however, reveals that there is a voice inside Arthur that knows better—a voice he is not listening to.
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Arthur arrives at Samuel Daily’s house for dinner and is impressed by the imposing estate. He thinks that both Daily and his wife seem “ill at ease” in their grand home—they clearly do not come from money, and now that they have a lot of it, they seem unsure of what to do with it all. Nevertheless, they serve Arthur a delicious meal, and Arthur himself feels very at home. Daily is downright gleeful as he recounts the tale of his “rising fortune” to Arthur over dinner, and Arthur begins confiding in Daily about his own life back in London.
Daily himself is a stock character of the Victorian Gothic genre; a kindly, wealthy benefactor of sorts who guides the protagonist along his way. Hill uses Daily to represent the ease Arthur could enjoy if only he would give up on Eel Marsh House; Arthur, though, will of course return to the manor, even against the advice of the wealthy, powerful, and knowledgeable mentor figure Samuel Daily.
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After dinner, Mrs. Daily goes up to bed, and Arthur and Samuel Daily drink port and whiskey in the study. As Daily pours Arthur’s first drink, he warns Arthur that he’d be a “fool” to go on with his business at Eel Marsh. Arthur replies that he’d never “turn tail and run” from a job, but Daily grows serious, asking Arthur if he experienced anything strange at the house. Arthur launches into the full story of his experience the day before, but concludes that he is more than prepared to return to the manor—and to encounter the ghost of the wasted-faced woman in black again.
Daily wants to warn Arthur of just how bad things are at Eel Marsh, and even attempts to belittle him to keep him from returning. Arthur, though, will not abandon his pride. As he recounts the horrors he faced at the manor, he is almost bragging to Daily, attempting to assert the fact that he remains in control of the situations there.
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Related Quotes
Unable to change Arthur’s mind, Samuel Daily offers to have his driver bring Arthur back to the inn; Arthur says he prefers to walk. Daily tells Arthur to take his dog, Spider—a small but sturdy terrier—back to the manor with him in case of trouble. At Daily’s command, Spider sticks close to Arthur’s heels and follows him all the way back to the inn. In a strange way, Arthur is looking forward to tomorrow.
Arthur has had a pleasant day today, away from Eel Marsh House and even from Crythin Gifford—this, along with Daily’s hospitality, comfortable home, and offer of Spider, has lulled Arthur into a false sense of security. Hill uses his contentment and even excitement to build further upon her readers’ sense of dread.
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