He Went Out and Closed the Door Behind Him by Charles Green — an illustration for Thomas Hardy's "The Superstitious Man's Story." 1891. Lithograph, 12.1 cm high by 18.8 cm wide. Scanned image, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]

From Thomas Hardy's "Wessex Folk" (subsequently renamed "A Few Crusted Characters") in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (April 1891): 701. In this third plate for Thomas Hardy's nine framed tales Green has chosen to depict the chief event in "The Superstitious Man's Story," which is connected to "The History of the Hardcomes," the third story in the sequence, through the wife, Betty Privett, who did the ironing for the Hardcomes. Green here captures well the mood of an oral tale involving the spirit of cottager William Privett separating from his body. The artist has intensified the mysterious atmosphere by rendering the ironing wife's shadow ominously gigantic. After leaving the house, William's "shade" is seen going into the church at midnight, portending his death within the coming year — in fact, he dies just three days later.

Last modified 2 June 2008