Fritz : use of imagery and suspense to add the element of horror


Fritz: by Satyajit Ray

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Question: Discuss how does the use of imagery and suspense   add to the element of horror in Fritz.

Answer: Use of imagery to create horror-

           The master storyteller Satyajit Ray has used imagery in such a way so as to bring the story visually to life. He has harmoniously blended different images to create a feeling of creepiness associated with such an unusual ghost story.

  •       Visual Imagery :

         Firstly, the author has used the ancient town of Bundi in Rajasthan for the setting in the story , instead of famous tourist spots like Jaipur, Udaipur or Chittor.

      Secondly, the main characters in the story stay in an old circuit house built during the time of the British, an apt place for creating the atmosphere for a ghost story. Some of the examples of visual images used to describe circuit house and the town of Bundi are –

 #”The rooms had high ceilings and the skylights had long, dangling ropes which could be pulled to open and shut them.”

# “The only reminders of modern times were the electric poles. Otherwise it seemed as though we were back in old Rajputana.”

Auditory  Imagery :

      The examples of auditory imagery in the story are following – 

# “A slight noise woke me a little later.” 

#  ” The first time I heard a shuffling noise near the window. ” 

# ” There was something eerie about the silence that afternoon. All we could hear was the noise made by a few monkeys sitting on the gulmohar tree across the cobbled path.”

Use of suspense to create horror :

Satyajit Ray has build up suspense and mystery in the story to create horror. He has done so in the following ways –

     *  At the beginning of the story narrator Shankar is puzzled at Jayanto’s choice for the trip to Bundi. Later Jayanto told Shankar that he had visited Bundi, thirty-one years ago when he was a child of six years. It was his memories about the town which drove them to that place. 

      They stayed in a Circuit House built during the time of the British and it was the same place, where Jayanto had stayed with his parents during their visit thirty-one years ago. 

     *  Jayanto is described in a sad and pensive mood when they arrived in Bundi. Shankar says – 

“I noticed Jayanto had turned rather quiet after arriving in Bundi. Perhaps some of his memories had returned.”
     At first he could only recall his visit to the place with his parents. But suddenly he goes in a class mode and remembered everything.

  *Jayanto first recalled a deodar tree at the far end of the compound but could not remembered the memories related to that tree. Then the mystery of deodar tree was solved after some time when he recalled the doll ‘Fritz’ .
     The doll was brought for him from Switzerland by his uncle. The man who sold the doll, told Jayanto’s uncle to call the doll ‘Fritz’ as it would not respond to any other name. It was a unique – ” twelve – inch – long figure of an old man, dressed in traditional Swiss style. Apparently, it was very life like.” 

        Jayanto became very obsessed with the doll that he gave up all other toys and began to spend all his time talking with Fritz.

   Then Jayanto remembered how the doll was destroyed by two stray dogs in a tug – of – war with First. Then he burried it under the same deodar tree he remembered earlier. That was the end of the deodar mystery.
    After telling the story about Fritz, Jayanto became more restless. He woke up at night and told Shankar that something had walked mover his chest. Shankar consoled him by saying it might be a cat or rat. Then Jayanto showed him “tiny ,brown circular marks” on the cover of his quilt. He believed that Fritz had come back to life and visited him and the marks on the quilt were it’s footprints.
       Shankar being a rational man dismissed it as a bad dream. It  seemed that Jayanto believed in supernatural elements and was very much haunted by the memories of Fritz. He could not even enjoy his holidays.

      On realising Jayanto’s obsession with Fritz, Shankar suggested him to get the earth below the deodar tree dug up and find if something was left of Fritz.
    On digging the ground ,to their horror ,they found a human skeleton, pure white in colour and twelve – inch – long, exactly the size of Fritz.

    The author has left the story open ended for the readers to conclude whether Fritz was a ghost or some kind of a supernatural being , who died an unnatural death or a figment of Jayanto’s imagination. Further it raises  suspicion if Fritz was actually a ghost, as hinted by its seller that it would respond only to the name ‘Fritz’ and that is why it turned into a human skeleton. 

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