"What Was It?" by Fitz-James O'Brien_
The story "What Was It?" was written by Fitz-James O'Brien, who combined elements of mysticism and real facts in his books.
In the story we also deal with other questions: What do you consider to be the greatest element of terror? What might it [a King of Terrors] be?
They bring us to the subject matter - fear, which is the fruit of our mind, imagination. So the narrator highlights the man-against-himself conflict, when a person's mind gives birth to his/her fears against his/her own will.
As for the structure of the work, it begins with the exposition, for the author gives background information about the house, which "has enjoyed … the reputation of being haunted". This image is supported owing to the garden, "which is now only a green enclosure used for bleaching clothes", "the dry basin", "fruit trees ragged and unpruned".
The movement of Mrs. Moffat's company to the house is also a part of the exposition, then series of complication come: "Our dinner conversation was supernatural", thus its participants live in the presentiment of evil.
The second complication is "What do you consider to be the greatest element of terror", as this question provokes reflection. A case of comparison in the sentence "I feel as if I could write a story like Hoffman", who is famous for his fairy-tales, increases the mysticism of that evening.
The examples of intensifier in the sentence "The room was in total darkness", "of personification in "The confounded themes touched on by Hammond in the garden kept obtruding themselves on my brain" and "They still crowded upon me", of comparison in "I was lying still as a corpse…" and the unusual graphic writing in "A something dropped" lead the reader to the moment of heightened tension.
So the climax is: Then I turned to look at my captive … I saw nothing! "I saw nothing!" is the cry of the terror-stricken soul.
There is one more sentence which is rather interesting from the point of view of form and content: "This thing has a heart that palpitates - a will that moves it - lungs that play and inspire and respire."
This parallel construction hints that this thing lives inside a human being.
The story ends with the denouement: "At last it [the Mystery] died."
So the idea is that everything depends on a person if he/she gives birth to his fear or "manacle" it and becomes free from it. And the narrator's answer to Mrs. Moffat proves that: "We decline taking this creature [fear] with us. Remove it yourself if you please. It appeared in your house [mind, imagination]. On you the responsibility rests.
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