The Story of the Rippling Train

“The Story of the Rippling Train” by Mary Louisa Molesworth

“The Story of the Rippling Train” by Mary Louisa Molesworth retells the audience the story of a woman, whose ghost came to her ex-lover to say goodbye before the death. In the 19th century, the phantom stories were quite popular, and a substantial number of writers applied them in their works. They presented the protagonist as a detached reporter of the past events. This story is not an exception, as it presents Mr. Marshall revealing the audience his last meeting with a previously beloved woman. Mary Louisa Moleswroth’s story is totally different from the others, because it includes the connotations of tenderness, devotedness, and a true love. She presents her wraith story from the female point of view. Despite the fact that this narrative is a ghost tale, it discourses the readers about the theme of eternal love and connection, which exist between the beloved people for their whole life.

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In the course of this research a cause and effect writing style was chosen. The main objective was to understand that the defect was caused by certain actions depicted in the work, and trace the author’s logic.

In “The Story of the Rippling Train,” the ghost of Maude Bertram appears to say goodbye to her beloved man, and makes the last attempt to remind that man about her previous beauty. The phantom comes not to frighten, but show the inner feelings and desire to see the man. The text then reveals that a ghost came in the unchanged appearance, though in reality, the woman was seriously disfigured due to an accident. Her right part of the face was distorted. When the wraith came to Mr. Marshall, she has shown him the left part only. This fact is essential, as it demonstrates the deep psychological analysis of the female logic. Women always try to remain beautiful for their beloved people. The ghost’s appearance in this story was a method, chosen by Mary Louisa Molesworth, aimed at persuading the audience that true love exists, and may be preserved during the whole life. Mr. Marshall dated with Maud Bertram many years ago. The destiny has divided them, but the woman did not forget about him. During her last days, all her thoughts were concentrated on this individual, and so later she visited him in the form of the ghost. Being a romantic woman, Mary Louisa Molesworth was sure that the true love was eternal. Her work proves to the audience that these feelings have no borders and that it is able to pass through time and space. The manifestation of the phantom in her literary work, is the approval of the author’s belief that woman can do anything to see her beloved man. The desire of the Maud Bertram to see her ex-lover was so strong, that she sent her mental image to Mr. Marshall, and managed to say goodbye to him in such a strange and intriguing way.

The writer made her rhetorical appeal to the audience through the emotions, or pathos. In this story, the ghost plays the significant role, as it is the expression of the female love. Author tried to demonstrate the audience that human inner feelings are truly powerful, and that they may appeal to others. Literary work is the recording of human thoughts and emotions. The emotional appeal of this story is evident in the line “I am sure she really did love Uncle Paul very much – much more than he had any idea of” (326). In this line, Mary Louisa Molesworth reveals the readership the main idea of her work.

She expresses her vision that love is able to overcome all the obstacles on its way, and the borders of the physical world amongst other things. While conducting the analysis of the emotional appeal, the concepts of love and death have to be considered. The death plays an essential role, because it signifies the end of the mysteries and understatement. The script does reveal the readers the details of the Maude Bertram’s and Maul Marshall’s love story and neither it discusses the peculiarities of their break up. However, the notion of death shows the readership the extent of feelings, which Maude Bertram felt towards her lover. In the course of the narrative, the author demonstrates the fact that despite their segregation, she still thought about him. Moreover, before the death, her minds were filled with this person to such an extent, that her figure appeared to him. The concept of love also plays a vital role in this work. One should pay attention to the fact that Maude Bertram came to Mr. Marshall just to look at him and remind about their past relations. She did not frighten him, but expressed her deep sadness. This was also the manifestation of her true love. Despite the fact that they have broken up long ago, she managed to preserve her feelings, but not the offense. She did not want to accuse him of forgetting about her. The phantom appeared to wake his memories about their past feelings. It is a very sentimental and touching moment. It has to be assumed that despite the fact that it is Victorian ghost tale, it has a positive and a bit nostalgic effect on the readers.

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The work is deprived of fear, but is rather filled with the feeling of sweet sorrow. Author seems to grieve because of the fact that Maude Bertram and Mr. Marshall splitted, and did not manage to tie their lives together, despite the existence of the strong mutual love, which they have experienced. As a result of their past mistakes, Maude Bertram died thinking about Paul, and he did not get married. One can say that they have ruined both of their lives. Application of pathos added to this work shades of meaning, and assisted the audience in grasping the message sent by the author.

The work is interesting, as it also includes the human appeal to logic. It could be stated that the ghost of Maude Bertram applied logic in order to affect the conclusions that the audience would draw upon finishing reading. She was speechless. For that reason, the task of the readers was to guess the reasoning behind her appearance. The fact that the ghost did not utter a single word created a necessary atmosphere of the work. In such a way, the protagonist manipulated other characters. She produced a food for thought to them. Later, after the revelation of the whole situation, people understood that her sad appearance and silence were the signs of farewell. The use of logic produces an essential effect on the readers. They fit the parts of the puzzle while reading the story, in order to form their general understanding of its gist and the mission of the ghost’s appearance. Linking all the events together affects the readers’ ability to ground their hypothesis and make the necessary conclusions. Logos assisted in making the argument more convincing through the application of logic in the meaning of the work. Logos also added the sound perception of the details to it.

It should not be forgotten that this story had a timeliness that appealed to Victorians, as it included the love story and the shades of mystics, as well as supernatural forces. Victorian time was a period of the re-invention of the past European cultures. The insight into the past heritage brought to that temporal period the popularity of the oral stories about phantoms. The history included mystic scenes, as it was common on the old ages to practice magic and healing. The historical context of wraiths was connected to the cultural and social instability that existed at that point in history. In the Victorian times, the stories were re-made and connected to the social and moral issues. It is also to be emphasized that Victorian period was marked by the explosion in commerce and technologies, which exploited spirit forms and beliefs as a mass entertainment. It was the time of an imbalance, caused by the progress of science and old religious beliefs. Mixed together, they woke the human interest towards the supernatural forces. “The Story of the Rippling Train” applied the features, which were popular at that temporal period. The timeliness of the work made it popular among the readers at that time. It could be even noted that Mary Louisa Moselworth managed to stream into the popular trend and to attract a lot of attention towards her work. Currently, the work also generates much interest because of its intriguing content, the masterful writing style of the author, and its Victorian times’ format. The kairos also played the essential role in making the argument more convincing, it related the temporal period to the content of the story.


In conclusion, it should be stated that “The Story of the Rippling Train” exerts a groundbreaking effect on the audience due to its accurate choice of details and the completeness of the general picture. Its author, Mary Louisa Molesworth managed to create the work that suited to the Victorian times’ ghost trend, but made it different from others through the application of female logic and efficient emotional appeal. Despite the fact that this story occupies only a few pages, it demonstrates and describes to the audience the eternal concepts of love and death. The peculiar feature of this ghost story is the absence of fear and the application of sweet sadness. The author figured out a way to create an atmosphere of nostalgia and wistfulness. She applied the image of a phantom to show the readers the power of female love. After reading this story, readers start indulging into the logical considerations in order to understand the connection which existed between the beloved people. It might be supposed that author has achieved her main objective, as readers start evaluating the feeling of love and the events, connected to it. Molesworth has confirmed the readership that this feeling has to be valued, because in the end of human life, love is the only thing, which truly matters.


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