Two’s Company – Sample Answer Part 2

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The poem contains a number of horror elements. However, the poet juxtaposes these elements with humorous elements as well, which subvert the horror elements and the fear which is usually constructed by these. It exposes the construction of fear through horror elements, which make use of preconceived notions to evoke a fearful response. This critiques the human tendency to fear what is unknown or commonly associated with things that are feared. In the case of the poem it is the idea of a ghost that is used to evoke fear. Other elements of horror used to create such an atmosphere are: rattling chains, a disembodied (horror films often use a voice without showing the body of to which the voice belongs to, which creates suspense and uncertainty) voice screaming, the clock striking twelve. All these elements are interposed with humorous narrative lines such as ‘come, come, it’s merely nerves…,’ ‘of course he knows that no one’s there, but no harms done by taking care.’

The interplay of these contrasting elements create a rather fascinating type of humour – the horror is displaced and the most significant line which breaks the stigmatization of the unfamiliar is when the ghost arrives at the scene (only with his voice, be it as it may), and surprises not only the character, but also the audience. But in the poem it is not in their usual manner of surprising the helpless audience. It is through breaking the stereotypical image of ghosts which is etched in the social conscience. We are made aware that we ourselves expected the ghost to be rather monstrous or destructive.

Therefore, even though humour has been used as the primary tool and tone of the poem, it questions many stereotypical perspectives about alternative perspectives, beliefs, customs, traditions; in short, it encourages the readers to curb their narrow minded clinging to their own culture as the one that has got everything right.  


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