What is the major theme of The Woman in Black by Susan Hill?

Expert Answers
belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 2012 film The Woman in Black is actually based on a novel with the same title, written by Susan Hill in 1982. The novel is a straightforward ghost story, concerning a lawyer who attends to the affairs of a recently-deceased woman and is haunted by a mysterious ghost.

Throughout the book, the overriding theme is vengeance. The ghost is that of the dead woman's sister, who had her son taken from her because she was not married at the time of birth. While becoming close to her son, who never knew that she was the real mother, she witnessed his death in a carriage that fell into a marsh. Her trauma at his death led to her own, and then she returned to haunt the village. According to legend, her appearance heralded the coming death of another child; at the end of the book, when the lawyer is riding in a carriage with his wife and son, she causes the horse to panic and the lawyer's wife and son are killed.

Her need for revenge is past the point of specification; the lawyer was never involved with her affairs, or with her family except to close her sister's files. Instead, she is a creature of mindless revenge, with only one goal, and no care as to who suffers. It is suggested that she has killed many children over the years, and that the follow her in the afterlife.

Further Reading:
Read the study guide:
The Woman in Black

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question