CBSE Class X English Support Material – Drama – A Shady Plot

-Elsie Brown
This humorous ghost story revolves around the three characters namely John Hallock, his wife Lavinia and the Ghost Helena. Lavinia suspects that her husband maintains a secret relationship with a girl and she says this with surety as she has seen him talking with her alone. She decides to break her relationship with him. Luckily she comes to know from the ghost itself that it is helping him write a ghost story. Now they reconcile with each other.

Jenkins, a magazine publisher asks the writer to give some story on super natural things. The writer accepts. The writer has no specialization in the ghost story writing. As he sits for writing about ghostly things issues like house hold matters crop up in his mind. Then he hears a voice and starts his conversation with a she-ghost as it were. The ghost says that she has come on his request through Ouija board to help him write a story. The ghost asks him to avoid calling through Ouija board. His wife calls him then and the ghost disappears and warns him about their strike.

His wife asks him why he is sitting in the dark. She brings an Ouija board to know about historical events to help him write a story. He does not like the idea and asks her to return the board aback and get something else in its replacement. His wife stares at him. He tries to write a story, but cannot do it. Then next Saturday he writes his story. When he comes back, his mind is churning and his house is brightly lighted. The room is filled with middle-aged women belonging to his wife’s book club. They are sitting with Ouija boards. He is scared that his wife may notice the ghost. When his wife asks him to join the Ouija board, he refuses. Somehow his wife comes to know from the Ouija board and the board operator namely Laura that John has betrayed his wife by having relationship with a girl called Helen. She decides to break the relationship, but luckily she comes to know from John that Helen is helping him to write a ghost story.

Solved:
I)Short Answer Question:

a) Why did John wish he were dead?
Ans. The ladies gathered at his house hadtroubled him. The chaos created due to the ladies’ conversation and the Ouja board disturbed him a lot. Moreover his wife doubted that he had an affair with Helen and threatened him that she would divorce him.
II) Long Question Answer:

Describe A Shady Plot as a ghost story, describing the supernatural and the atmosphere around which it revolves.
Ans. Helen, an owl-eyed and unattractive ghost plays a vital role in the story. She appears in parts, first her arm, then a leg, a sleeve and at last, a complete woman stood there. It does not create fear, on the other hand, the ghost appears to be a real human being, and helps the couple to reunite at the end, instead of creating trouble in their lives, as ghosts are supposed to do. Ouija boards are mentioned which are intended to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Ouija boards help to get answers to their questions. This story is different from other ghost stories as it does not send a chill down the spine. Here the ghost does not threaten, but creates inspiration and the best plot for writing a ghost story.

Questions

A) Answer the following in 60 words:

1. Why does the ghost appear before the writer?
2.How does the writer react when ghost appear before him?
3.Why does the ghost want the writer to stop his guests from using Ouija Board?
4.Why do Helen and other ghosts organize the writer’s inspiration bureau?
5.What happened when Hallock sat down his desk and waited for getting ideas for his ghost story?
6.How did the narrator react to the appearance of the ghost?
7.How was this ghost different form the ghosts the narrator used to write about in his stories?
8.What did the ghost tell about herself which didn’t sound that she was a ghost?
9.What did the ghost tell the narrator of her present assignment and what for did she request him?
10.What made Lavinia buy Ouija board? How did the narrator react to her doing so?What for did Lavinia buy the Ouija board for the narrator? How could he get help form it?
11.“My wife is never so pretty as when she is doing something she knows I disapprove of “What did she do which he unapproved of?
12.What happened when Laura Hinkle worked on the Ouija board?
13.How did the Ouija board make things easier to understand after Miss Hinkle asked it to explain itself more fully?
14.When did Helen, the ghost appear before the narrator?
15.‘It is all your fault. She glared at me” .What was the narrator’s fault as per the ghost? What for did the narrator blame the ghost?
14.Describe how Lavinia faced Helen, the ghost?
15.Explain the appropriateness of the title “A Shady Plot”
16.How does the narrator rate himself as a ghost story writer?
17.Why does the ghost appear before the writer?
18.How does the writer react when ghost appears before him?
19.Why does the ghost want the writer to stop his guests from using Ouija Board?
20.Why do Helen and other ghosts organize the writer’s inspiration bureau?

Long answer type

1..Describe the character of John Hallock.
2. A Shady Plot is a humourous ghost story Do you agree with this Justify you view.
3.Justify the title of the lesson “A Shady Plot”
4.There are no scenes of horror or thrill but still the story is interesting. What are the elements that make the story interesting?
5.Describe the first meeting between the narrator ad the ghost of Helen. How does she materialize and how does the narrator react to it?
6.Describe the meeting of the members of the Lavinia’s Book Club at her house with Ouija boards.
7.Describe the second meeting of the ghost of Helen with the narrator when Lavinia happens to be there.
8.Imagine the ghost of Helen writes a diary page about how it appears to help the narrator and what happens. Write the diary page on its behalf.
9.Imagine the narrator writes a letter describing how he gets the idea of a ghost story. Write that letter on his behalf.

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