Elizabeth Gaskell Questions and Answers
by Elizabeth Gaskell

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In Gaskell's short story "The Old Nurse's Story": How does Gaskell describe Furnivall Manor? What are the uncanny elements of this new home for Hester and Rosamond? How does the story employ the elements of a Victorian Gothic novel, including an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, the combination of feeling threatened and having a fear of the unknown, supernatural events involving ghosts and other creatures coming to life, some events that are natural and some that are supernatural, high overwrought emotion (anger, sorrow, surprise, terror, emotional speeches, breathlessness, panic, and female characters experiencing fainting, screaming, sobbing, terror, abandonment), and women being threatened by a dictatorial male character? Does the story have a moral? Consider jealousy, pride, revenge, anger. Is this story relevant today? Explain.

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Elizabeth Gaskell , who wrote “The Old Nurse’s Story” in the mid-1850s Victorian era, combines just the right amount of creepy elements to make the story a legitimate Victorian gothic ghost story. In the beginning of the story, Hester, the narrator of the story, is lead to believe that Furnivall Manor will be a “very grand place” and a “very healthy place” for the child, Miss Rosamond, to live in. However, when Hester and Rosamond arrive, they come upon “the gates of a large, wild park…with rocks, and the noise…and gnarled thorn-trees, and old oak, all white and peeled with age.” Furnivall Manor turns out not to be majestic and beautiful, but unattended and forlorn. Branches drag against the walls of the manor and the garden has not been cared for in years. The furniture and fixtures inside look like a house that that has been lived in for 50 years without any renovation. The physical description of the home is uncanny because two young women, about to begin their...

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