Cry of the Hunters, the final chapter of The Lord of The Flies by William Golding and The Black Cottage written by Wilkie Collins are two greatly contrasting accounts if the characters, setting and the qualities of the protagonists are looked at. But when the techniques that both writers use to create an intense feeling of fear and suspense are examined, it is clear that the work of both writers is similar, although nearly a century spans between the publications.
There are many elements required to create a suspense story, and both Golding and Collins use these and many linguistic devices in their stories. These elements include the descriptions of characters, a balanced mixture of simple and complex sentences, and a gripping unpredictable story line.
The characters’ predicaments and their surroundings play an important part in outlining how the protagonists may not be in the most favourable of situations. Bessie, the main character in The Black Cottage, may be familiar with her surroundings but she is confronted by two men described as ‘ugly looking’ and ‘menacing.’ These men are portrayed as being intrusive and a serious threat to Bessie’s well being because she is trapped in a cottage. Ralph, one of the boys from The Lord of The Flies, is also in an unfortunate situation. He is imprisoned on a sub-tropical island and realises the shortage of food is not the only threat to his survival; now the tribe of boys who were once his friends are hunting him down.
Although the characters’ circumstances are quite similar, Bessie possesses one particular quality that opposes the stereotypical image of most mid-century women. She is extremely tenacious, unlike Ralph who thinks to himself as he is running through the forest:
‘If only one had time to think.’
Golding’s use of this subconscious soliloquy shows that Ralph is panicking and is scared. Bessie, however, seems extremely calm and relaxed, and is able to make clever decisions about resolving her situation.
Deprivation of senses is a key element in both stories, which both writers capture well, notably Golding when he describes the tribe’s attack on Ralph as he shelters in the thicket. Throughout the savage’s brutal attack, Golding does not describe the fall of the red rock visually, instead he only writes about Ralph hearing what is happening. This detriment of Ralph’s vision adds a great amount of tension because Ralph, and the reader, are both unaware of the events that are taking place outside his burrow.
Wilkie Collins mirrors this when Bessie is alone in her cottage and Shifty Dick and Jerry are trying to penetrate her stronghold and steal the pocket book that has been left in her care. Bessie is also blind to what is happening outside of her dwelling, and all that can be heard is Shifty Dick and Jerry concocting a plan to get inside the cottage.
The two writers’ use of language is relevant and clever, but Golding’s descriptions of the tribe and Ralph add to the tension more than Collins’ adjectival phrases. The tribe members are described as ‘savages’ and there is a constant drone described as a ‘loud ululation’ in the background. This constant noise shows that the tribe is united and Ralph is on his own against everyone else, and it is made clear through Golding’s use of adjectives that Ralph feels alone and is desperate, adding to the tension.
Both writers disguise the actions of the assailants very discreetly, and the feeling of not knowing what is happening can increase the level of tension greatly. When Ralph is concealed in the thicket, cheering can be heard emulating from the top of Castle rock. Although the book doesn’t directly say so, the tribe seem to think that they have the upper hand, but the reason for this is unknown until the rock is released from the top of the mountain. The same happens in The Black Cottage, when ‘sniggering’ and laughing can be heard from outside the cottage.
Another key element that Golding uses is the semantic field of frightened animal imagery. Ralph is said to have ‘shied like a horse’ and is described as ‘leaping like a cat,’ which increases the already present feeling of desperation, and magnifies the concept of Ralph being hunted by predatory savages.