The Highwayman


The Plot Of The Highwayman Novel

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Highwayman Their journey to London was not a long one, but in the night, it was a treacherous one. A rolling fog covered the land, one couldnt see twenty feet ahead, but in the still, quiet night, sound carried for a mile. They began their trek in the early evening, the sun had yet to dip below the horizon. The passengers needed in London, could not wait for the next morning.

The stage driver was the best to be found, his fee large, but his experience was priceless. He was accompanied by another man with a large rifle. The Rifleman had keen eyes and his ears were at attention, listening over the horses for oncoming riders; for the Highwaymen who prayed on the stages.

Long after the sun had set, not a sound had been heard over the consistent clip-clop of the horses. Their hooves hit the dirt road, broadcasting a message for nearly a mile of the nearing prey. The sound alerting all the nearby predators to keep a good watch, to be ready, for the prize will soon be in their grasp. The fog, like a blanket spreading it self out on the land, concealed all stars, the only light was from a lantern suspended above the stage driver. The passengers nervous, expecting to hear shots fired. The jumped at every bump in the road that the wheels struck.

Clutching their baggage close, they prayed that the night would pass quickly. The Highwayman, alerted to the approaching stage, was hidden by the road, and concealed by the fog, he was not yet able to discern the light from the quickly approaching lantern. Clutching his pistol, his only weapon, he planned to take all the that he desired from the stage. His family was at home, sitting by the fire. His late night occupation provided their home, food and clothing. During the day he works in a stable for the nearby English noble. Feeding and grooming their horses, only he knows the stable well enough to “barrow ” a horse. Not every night, but often enough for his family to live better than most. Passing through a small wooded area, the stage continued at its rapid pace, the horses sweating, pulling the large stage coach and its five passengers.

The Rifleman, ever intent, tenses, telling the driver to push the animals even harder. The two horses, running as fast as they can, try to comply, but they gain no speed. The passengers, jumping at every bump in the road, wishing the ride over, holding fast to the coach, expecting any minute for the stage to roll on its side. They were waiting for the Highwayman to strike. Behind a wall of fog that hides him from the stage, not making a sound, he waits. He is waiting for the right moment to ride forth. He knows that quickly he will see the light and the stage that brings it. And then they will be able to see him. His rifle is ready in his arms, ready to rise to his shoulder, take aim, and fire. The lantern throws ghostly shadows as the coach rushes by the surrounding trees. The experienced eyes of the Rifleman, watching everything as it flies by, waits for that movement, that shape, that does not belong. He listens to the sound of air rushing past, the sound of the horses, listening to their hooves as they strike ground and gulp for air in the night. He listens for the sound that does not meld with the others, the of beat of a third horse. He can see the light now, his anticipation building, his heart beating, over powering the sound of the stage, smothering the sounds of the horses pulling it. His pistol ready, in his shaking hand. His other hand holds the reigns, his feet ready to propel the horse onward, to overtake the stage. Waiting for the right moment, waiting to strike. The Rifleman waits, scanning the forest as it streaks past, his nerves building a lump in his throat. The Highwayman can now see the stage in its entirety.

The Rifleman ready, will see him. Now is the time to strike. He is surprised at the speed of the coach, the cargo must be must be important. The passengers pray that they complete the trip, curse the driver for the speed. Not knowing of the dangers out side, clutching to each other, they sit on the floor of the coach. Scared, they wait for the hellish ride to end. Kicking his horse, he bursts from his hiding place, flying toward the coach, his pistol raised, ready to fire. He banks from left to right as he intercepts the stage. The Rifleman raises his weapon, looks down the long barrel at the approaching Highwayman. Tracking left to right and aiming at the Highwayman, he glances at his pistol, then he centers his rifle on the Highwayman, and hesitates, knowing that he has only one shot. Though the pistol at his side reassures him, because should he miss, he is not out of the game. The Highwayman takes aim with his pistol. He looks down the barrel at the Rifleman, his weapon pointing back at him. He rides straight, aims, and fires. The bench explodes next to the Rifleman as a bullet drives it self in to the stage, closely missing him. He continues aiming at the bandit, looks him in the eye, breathes out, holds his breath, and fires.

The Highwayman does not feel the bullet enter his chest, so much as the force knocking him off his horse. He crashes to the ground, his horse riding away in to the night. He lays there dying, breathing in his last breaths, says a silent good bye to his family, and the air escapes from his lungs, never to return. The passengers huddling on the floor of the stage. The gun shots scaring them so much, they fear the worst. They begin saying goodbye to each other and to their loved ones, as death is imminent. The stage continues. The stage breaks through the forest on to the plains. The fog lifting, they can see the light of the soon to rise sun, though day is still hours a way. London is not far, they have completed their journey. The driver slows the horses to a gallop. The Rifleman sinks back in the bench, spent. The game is over. The passengers begin cheering that they have not been killed, and that they have reached London unhurt. Relieved and exhausted, they collapse on their benches.

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Death in a Worn Path And The Jilting of Granny Weatherall

March 18, 2021 by Essay Writer

Death is not something to be feared, but faced with awe. Although, by nature, aging and death are merely facts of life; a loss of hope, the frustration of all aspirations, a leap into a great darkness, and the feelings of fear and anguish. Phoneix Jackson of Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path” and Granny of Katherine Anne Porter’s “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall” face these inevitable signs of aging and death.

Phoenix Jackson, an old Negro lady, haltingly struggles with her age while walking through the woods and fields on her way to town. “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far.” Phoenix Jackson walks a worn path and overcomes obstacles and adversity to reach her goal. “She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her.” The fact that she kept persistently tapping the earth in front of her could only indicate that she was visually impaired. She may not have been completely blind, but she had to have been substantially impaired to keep tapping her cane in a redundant manner.

“But she sat down to rest She did not dare to close her eyes and when a little boy brought her a plate with a slice of marble cake on it she spoke to him. “That would be acceptable,” she said. But when she went to take it there was just her own hand in the air.” This was just one out of many instances in the story where Phoenix talked to herself and had hallucinations. Talking to one s self in the forest is a definite sign of senility. Phoenix did not allow her disabilities to get in her way. Her memory fails her when she forgets the purpose of her nature walk. “My senses is gone. I too old, I the oldest people I ever know.”

As a dying person, Granny Weatherall is losing her powers of deliberate control over events, which she has evidently learned to master along with the various disappointments that life has dealt her but is also subject to a number of intense anxieties. “While she was rummaging around she found death in her mind and it felt clammy and unfamiliar. She had spent so much time preparing for death there was no need for bringing it up again.” In a semi-conscious state the feisty and irritable Granny reviews her life by remembering the important happenings, disappointments, crises, achievements, and feelings.

The author uses a style of stream-of-consciousness which renders the thoughts, memories, and associations of Granny s mind. This technique is especially well-suited to the story because it reveals Grannys alternating confused and clear thoughts during her final moments as she moves from lucid consciousness to confused semiconsciousness..

He just left five minutes ago. That was this morning, Mother. It s night now. The memories, thoughts, feelings, and images that strike Granny’s mind in the present when they happened in the past are her most significant experiences. Granny Weatherall is jilted when the final sign she’s been waiting for from Jesus never appears. “For the second time there was no sign. Again no bridegroom and the priest in the house . . . She stretched herself with a deep breath and blew out the light.” The light, which she blows out represents her life and as she descends into the darkness of death.

These stories have the power to stimulate profound feelings and an intellectual understanding of life and death

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The Historical Context of Early 19th Century and Interest in Criminals

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

In the early nineteenth century, an interest in criminals and the common highwayman arose in Europe. Many magazines in London, such as Bentley’s Miscellany, Fraser’s Magazine, and The Athenaeum featured sections that were reserved for stories about highwayman and their numerous adventures. The growing interest in the subject inspired many authors to write about the various exploits of popular criminals and highwayman.

Some prominent examples of this type of novel were Edward Bulwer’s Paul Clifford (1830) and Eugene Aram (1832); Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (1838-39) and Barnaby Rudge (1841); and William Harrison Ainsworth Rookwood (1834) and Jack Sheppard (1839-40). Several of these novels were based upon famous crimes and criminal careers of the past (Eugene Aram, Dick Turpin in Rookwood, and Jack Sheppard); others derived from contemporary crime (Altick, 1970, p. 72). Although many authors chose to base their stories on criminals, William Harrison Ainsworth’s Rookwood and Jack Sheppard are two of the best examples of the theme of ‘crime and punishment’ in the nineteenth century.

Ainsworth started his writing career as a writer of Gothic stories for various magazines. Gothic elements are included in Ainsworth’s novel: the ancient hall, the family vaults, macabre burial vaults, secret marriage, and so forth (John, 1998, p. 30). Rookwood is a story about two half-brothers in a conflict over the family inheritance. The English criminal who Ainsworth decides to entangle in Rookwood was Dick Turpin, a highwayman executed in 1739. However, echoing Bulwer, Ainsworth’s explanation for his interest in Dick Turpin (like Bulwer’s explanation in his choice of Eugene Aram as a subject) is personal and familial (John, 1998, p. 31). Though the basis of the novels seem similar, Ainsworth treated Dick Turpin in a different way than Bulwer treated Eugene Aram. Ainsworth romanticizes history, but basically sticks to the facts (as far as he knew them). Perhaps more importantly, Ainsworth does not pretend that the Turpin he invents is the real Dick Turpin, nor does he attempt to elevate Turpin’s social class status (John, 1998, p. 32). Ainsworth recalls lying in bed listening to the exploits of ‘Dauntless Dick’, as narrated by his father. Despite Ainsworth’s infatuation with the criminal, the real Turpin was no more interesting a character than an ordinary cat burglar. Besides highway robbery, his affairs included stealing sheep and breaking into farmer’ houses, sometimes with the aid of confederates; and he took a turn at smuggling (Hollingsworth, 1963, p. 99).

Although Turpin appears in a considerable part of the novel, he really has no effect on the plot. He stole a marriage certificate, but the incident was not important to the plot. Although Turpin does not have much to do with the plot, he helps the novel celebrate the life of a highwayman. Ainsworth’s Turpin was essentially innocent and good-natured, though courageous and slightly rash. He was very chivalrous and attractive in the eyes of the lady. An example of Turpin’s personality is shown in an incident in Rookwood when he goes to a party at Rookwood Hall under the alias of Mr. Palmer. He makes a heavy wager against the capture of himself to a lawyer/thief catcher. Unreal as he was, Turpin undoubtedly was the cause Rookwood’s success. Rookwood went into five editions in three years. This fact shows that Ainsworth’s enthusiasm with criminals found its favor with the public. The success of Dick Turpin in Rookwood repeated in Ainsworth’s Jack Sheppard (1839); in both cases the fact that the criminals were given a crude vitality and individualizing speech entirely denied to other characters was taken to indicate the approval of their actions (Horsman, 1990, p. 88). The novel was separated in three ‘epochs’, 1703, 1715, and 1724. Its plot is less complicated than that of Rookwood. It is the story of two boys that are brought up as brothers: one (Thames Darrell) virtuous and one, (Sheppard), good hearted but mischievous. Jack Sheppard, like Rookwood, was written as a romance, but not in a Gothic setting. Unlike Rookwood, the whole story centers around Jack and his antics.

Throughout the novel Ainsworth stuck to history as best as he could. The real Jack Sheppard was born in 1702 and hanged at Tyburn on November 16, 1724, at the age of 21. He became a carpenter’s apprentice when he was 15. The record shows that he never committed a crime until the age of 20. One may wonder why Ainsworth chose a character with such a short career in the crime business. The answer lies in the fact that the real Jack Sheppard was known for his daring escapes from incarceration. First, he escaped from a small prison called St. Giles Round-House. After he was reincarcerated, he and Edgeworth Bess (a supposed romantic interest of Sheppard at the time) escaped from Clerkenwell. The feats that probably made Sheppard most famous was his two escapes from the famous Newgate prison. These escapes were the ‘meat’ of the story. Ainsworth very rarely went into detail about the actual robberies, but described the escapes in great detail. For example, he escaped from Newgate the first time by slipping through a crack in the bars of the jail. One of the peculiarities of the event was that only one bar was removed for the escape. Questions have been raised whether or not it is possible for any human, besides a child, to fit through a gap that small.

After the escape, Sheppard was caught and returned to Newgate 11 days later. On October 15, he made his most famous escape of all, this time from a deeper part of the penitentiary. Sheppard was left unattended during the evening. He slipped his unusually small hands out of the heavy irons that bounded him, removed an iron bar fixed in a chimney, and worked his way to freedom through an incredible series of locked doors and walls. After he had escaped, he hid, but he left London only once. Jack went to see his mother, while on her death bed she begs him to leave the country, but Jack refuses to leave. After she dies, Jack goes to her funeral, and in front of everyone bows at his mother’s grave. He is apprehended by authorities and never escapes from prison again. The personality of Jack Sheppard won the hearts of readers everywhere. Upon completion of the novel, it was dramatized at an incredible rate. Eight versions of the novel were produced in London–an unheard of number of dramatizations of that time. As a serial in Bentley’s Miscellany, Jack Sheppard ran for thirteen months, through February 1840. Bentley issued the book in three volumes in October 1839, shortly after Ainsworth had completed the novel. The sales were tremendous. Jack Sheppard sold 3,000 copies in a week. Exactly why there was so much enthusiasm for these types of novels is a matter for wonder. Ainsworth’s novels had, it is true, the elements to make a popular success: a spotless hero and an underdog to sympathize with, both pitted against a fearful villain; a glimpse of aristocracy, a suggestion of sex, hairbreadth adventures, and plenty of virtuous emotions (Hollingsworth, 1963, p. 140). Rookwood and Jack Sheppard are prime of the ‘criminal’ theme that was popular in the early nineteenth

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