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‘The Signalman’, by Charles Dickens; ‘The Battler’ by Ernest Hemingway – In what way do the two authors create and maintain interest and suspense in their stories?

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'The Signalman', by Charles Dickens; 'The Battler' by Ernest Hemingway - In what way do the two authors create and maintain interest and suspense in their stories? Richard Smith 5? Charles Dickens' 'The Signalman' starts by introducing the main character (a railway signalman). Another character is also introduced: the narrator. Dickens describes the signalman as a 'dark sallow man' and as having a 'dark beard' and 'heavy eyebrows'. Dickens portrays the signalman as a dark and ominous figure, at first. However, he then sheds further light on the character. Dickens portrays him to be lonely and afraid of something. This is shown in the way he 'turn[ed] himself about and looked down the Line' when the narrator calls to him. It is as if he is expecting something unusual. The narrator is curious and helpful character. Dickens gives us no physical description of him, but we are given the impression that he is a retired man who is interested in new technology: such as the railway. Dickens uses setting very well to create atmosphere, as at the two characters' first meeting. The deep railway cutting is described as 'dark' and 'gloomy'. Dickens uses an almost Gothic-styled description. ...read more.


Also, because Hemingway has him as a young teenager he is somewhat vulnerable: like the signalman in Dickens' story. The way Hemingway describes Nick's appearance - he looks to have been beaten up, which adds to the feeling that he is vulnerable: His 'pants were torn and the skin was barked. His hands were scraped and there were sand and cinders driven up under his nails'. Hemingway uses a railway line in a dark forest as the setting for the meeting between the two characters. This is similar to Dickens in that he used a deep and dark railway cutting; Hemingway describes it as 'dark and a long way from anywhere'. The language used by Hemingway indicates that it is an ominous place: one, which we would not want to be lost in. He repeats that it is 'dark' and 'black' the same way Dickens did with the railway cutting. The forest seems remote and mysterious; it is near a 'ghostly swamp'. There is a sense of urgency about Nick. Hemingway tells us that 'he must get to somewhere', it seems it does not matter where. When Nick finally meets Ad, it seems he is more like the narrator in Dickens' story. ...read more.


Another thing about Bugs is he is 'gentle' in laying Ad back down next to the fire after he has knocked him out. He is 'gentle': almost graceful. This was a characteristic that Hemingway greatly admired in a man: grace under pressure. Also, the strange relationship the two men have is very interesting. Bugs seems to look after Ad: he makes and buys his food; protects him; and generally keeps him in line. The relationship is strange because usually black people and whites would not have such close involvement. This tells us that Bugs must get something out of their being together, for example: with the laws concerning blacks, Ad would have been able to do things Bugs could not. Hemingway is showing his moral standings on colour prejudice here: he believes that the American stereotype of black people was wrong. In 'The Signalman', Charles Dickens explores human nature more than the ethics of a situation. The point of Dickens' work is to illustrate that new technology and science have a definite place in the new industrial world, but there will always be an element of the supernatural. Both writers use the same basic techniques and effects to get their massage across. They create suspense, maintain it until a point and then let it go after a climax of excitement. ...read more.

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