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Book's analysis

chapter 1

chapter 2

chapter 3

chapter 4

chapter 5

chapter 6

chapter 7



The ghost story as a       genre

 Main themes

Beliefs in ghosts

Traditional stories

Inverted ghost story


Humorous devices


Suspense devices


Criticism of Americans



The Canterville Ghost Home

The World in a Book Home


Project coordinator:

Daniela Ianni

Graphic project:

Ernesta Cicini




The ghost story as a genre


The ghost story

The ghost stories belong to the part of the literature called horror literature; it has the purpose of scaring the reader of the story with situations that cause horror or fear.

The most used technique in this tales is the suspense, the slow insinuating of a doubt or of a frightening revelation in the reader.

The horror stories wereborn in the 19th century in the romantic period, because there was a growing interest for the fantastic and supernatural elements in the circle of the intellectuals.

The most important literary production of this period belongs to the English and Nordic writers, such as Edgar Allan Poe, in the gruesome field and Howard Philip Lovecraft in the fantastic one, that nowadays are considered the fathers of this genre.

Today the horror literature is contaminated by other kinds of production for example fantasy and splatter.

Among the current writers one of the most famous is Stephen King, who made a lot of best-sellers.

Another branch of the Horror story, and related to the ghost stories, is the gothic literature, that developed in the 17th century: it is featured by hollow settings, and the characters are often evil creatures.

The temporal setting is the Moyen age, a dark period in history; the places in which the stories are set are old castles and monasteries. The main themes are death, evil and ancient prophecies.

This literature of the 18th and 19th centuries gave birth to the gothic revival, with settings in Catholic countries, because the major writers of this stories are mainly English and so there is the clash between the power of the Pope and the protestant religion. The English population, in fact, believes that the protection of a king and of a parliament is more important than the one of  a religious power.

Some easy instruments to scary the reader are the darkness (the light doesn’t frighten), big and powerful objects, such as cannons, chains and lofty buildings; there are very strong noises and the missing of precision in the definition of the characters.


What a ghost is…

The main character of the ghost stories is the ghost of course (also called phantom). It is a legendary being. It is an incorporeal presence that is usually covered by a bed sheet or without head; it produces a clang noise and sometimes is surrounded by a strange light. Other features are the appearances during the night and in isolate places (castles or roads).

The word ghost in the past meant supernatural appearance, but now it has the meaning of the appearance of a died person. This is an element that  can be found in all the cultures.

The most famous example is the ghost of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that moves all the plot.


Other typical elements

In a horror story, but sometimes either in a ghost story, there are other typical characters, such as zombies, vampires and people victims of ancient curses; there are also demons and wicked animals, elements of black magic, and in the modern stories can be also found  alien creatures.

Regarding the films belonging to this category, the most important ones are Dracula, The mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hide, that derive from the gothic literature.


By Marco Dellutri and Alessio Sale, Karima and Amina