The Woman in Black
by Susan Hill
The Woman in Black Theme of Memory and the Past
The Woman in Black is one long trip down memory lane, but it's not the memory lane that happens to be lined with rose bushes and chirping birds and lazy afternoons at the beach. It's more a memory lane that's lined with boggy marshes and skeletons. Not so pleasant. The whole tale of the woman in black is one that will live forever in Arthur's memory, for better or for worse (hint: it's totally for worse).
Questions About Memory and the Past
- What is the relationship between Arthur's current life and his past life and family?
- Is Arthur the only character living in the past? What's the difference between the way Jennet lives in the past and the way Arthur lives in the past?
- Why can't Jennet let go of what happened to her? Is there any way she could find peace except by murdering children?
- Is Arthur still haunted by the events that happened to him as a young man?
Chew on This
The woman in black could represent anyone who is so stuck in the past that he or she can't move on with life.
No matter how much Arthur tries to leave the past behind—both in the sense of his personal past and a historical past—it always catches up to him.